Stewart and his late wife Joyce used to spend winters in Sun City AZ where they were active in bridge clubs and writing classes. It is here that they met Bruce and Sonya Campbell who own a farm in Washington IA. They invited Stewart and Joyce to visit some time. Stewart took them up on this offer albeit late in life. They would be returning to Iowa from Sun City the day before our arrival so it was a quick turnaround for them to be receiving guests.
Sonya’s family was from Sweden and Bruce’s family was Scottish. They met in college. It was fun to hear about their heritage, families, the life on the farm, and their strong faith. Bruce heard felt God’s call to teach farming to the people of Ukraine. One day while out in the fields pondering the plight of the people of Ukraine, he heard God’s voice with a simple request “Why don’t you do that, Bruce?” He and his family have a active farming ministry in the Ukraine and have even shipped large machinery to teach them farming techniques.
All Christian’s have a story about when Jesus became real to them. It is called your testimony as you testify to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Here is Stewart’s story: The Methodist Church in Mulvane had week-long revival evening services during a week each summer. Stewart’s father, Otis, was not able to attend since he was working at the gas station but he encouraged the rest of the family: his wife Nellie, daughters Dorothy and Doris and son Stewart to attend each night. One evening, eight year old Stewart asked his mother if he could sit up front with his friend. She agreed but asked him to behave. Stewart had a brand new pocket knife and he was fiddling with it. Somehow “unintentionally” (His exact words!) he carved his initials into the pew. He started to listen to the words of this itinerant preacher. He was talking about sin and begged people to repent.
He thought that the preacher was speaking directly to him. He knew that he had sinned against God by defacing his house. He felt great guilt and remorse. So, when the altar call was offered, he raced to the altar to ask for Jesus’ forgiveness. However, he knew that his sin would be discovered by the church custodian who would then tell his mother. It was a really long week until Sunday. He was really nervous about going to church the following Sunday. He revisted the scene of his crime BUT low & behold his initials had vanished. There was no sign of sanding or repairing or replacement, etc. He had personally witnessed the miracle of having your sins erased. “Oh Happy Day, O Happy Day, when Jesus Washed my sins away.” He’s been a believer in Jesus Christ and has served him ever since!!!!
Stewart loves to use his love of music and playing his trumpet to honor God. There was a very popular song called The Little Brown Church in the Vale during his younger days and is sometimes found in older hymnals and was made famous by the Weatherwax Quartet. There have been over 75,000 weddings performed in this church. After the ceremony, the couple pulls the rope to ring the bell. It symbolizes pulling together throughout the ups and owns of life. He wanted to visit that church and play his horn there. Enjoy!
Come to the church by the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the vale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.