Serve Faithfully - God Can Use You!
by Arnold Stobbe with Naomi Epp
It was during the difficult days of the "Dirty Thirties" that Arnold walked as a 7 or 8 year old boy down a dirt road to a small country schoolhouse. Half a mile later, two young neighbor girls joined him for the remaining three long miles. As they entered the little white building, the teacher greeted them and instructed them in what to do. Arnold didn't understand a word he said! The teacher spoke a different language! Later as older students began reading from their books, he realized he didn't understand them either. How could he ever learn to read this strange language!! It was English.
Several years later, Arnold parents moved to a different farm, and Arnold had to go to a new school and get to know a new teacher. The school had 12 students ranging from Grades 1 - 8. Arnold was now in Grade 3, the only student in his class, and 11 years old. During his second year in Grade 3, a girl from Grade 2 was assigned to sit beside him for some of the subjects. How humiliating! he thought. To make matters worse, by the time he was in Grade 5, other boys his age were three grades ahead of him. Reading was a frustration for him. I'm dumb, he concluded. I can't wait to quit school.
Although he was never highly educated, Arnold had a servant heart. Seeing this, God used him to bring love and hope to people in his church, in his family, and in the many, many relationships he has developed over the years. He had experienced God's love and forgiveness as an eight year old boy and longed that other people would come to know God, too.
While still a teen, Arnold made a list of missionaries that he knew and then inspired the other teens in his youth group to each choose a missionary and write a letter to him or her. Many letters went out from that youth group. In the years that followed, Arnold served God through the hundreds of letters he faithfully wrote to bring encouragement to many missionaries.
The country church that Arnold attended had no running water. During church functions such as weddings, funerals, and Thanksgiving dinners, water was needed for drinking and washing dishes. Eager to serve as a young man, Arnold had a list of people willing to haul water, and faithfully phoned them in turn so there was always water for church functions.
After Arnold married and had a growing family, his church was asked to help with a Vacation Bible School, VBS, for children in town for one week each summer. Not being asked to teach the Bible lessons did not deter Arnold from getting involved. He went farm to farm in the country, and house to house in town, inviting children to the kids' meetings. Some of them he gave a ride into town. During the VBS, if a child needed help putting together a craft or was unruly during a lesson, Arnold was there to help. Since the desire to see the children come to know God burned in his heart, he served faithfully in every way he could to give them an opportunity to learn about God.
Arnold longed that his family, as well those in the community, come to know and follow God. On July 29, 1954, he had married Helena Bargen. In the years that followed, they had 5 sons and 5 daughters. If a child got up early enough, he or she would see his Dad sitting at the small desk in his bedroom reading the Bible and praying. Usually Arnold would wake the children and later call them down to breakfast with a final, "Everybody up! Everybody down!"
After the family was seated at the table, Arnold read a passage from the Bible, a devotional from Our Daily Bread, and prayed with the family. Seeking to instill into his ten children a love for God's Word and God's work, in the evenings he would lead his family in a time of memorizing Bible verses, reading letters from missionaries, and praying for them. God also lead Arnold to a plan in which he could save money so that all his children could attend four years of Bible College if they so wished.
Around the time that Arnold's oldest children were finishing high school, someone was needed to teach the middle aged children God's Word during the weekly Wednesday evening prayer meeting at church. No one wanted to do it. Reluctantly, the church asked Arnold, "Will you teach this class?" Again willing to serve, he consented, and for two years he studied God's Word and taught the young people each Wednesday.
Then the pastor moved to another community. When a young pastor was hired, he proved to be a great encouragement to Arnold. Some newcomers began attending the church, and Arnold was asked to teach them. Not surprisingly, he was asked to teach the Bible to an adult class a few years later. As God opened opportunities to share God's Word, Arnold was faithful to use these times to lead others into a closer walk with God.
Some years later God gave Arnold a deep desire to see the people in the town of Hafford come to have a close relationship with God. Faithfully he visited a couple who was open to God's Word.
About two years later, he organized a Bible Club for children and went door to door to invite children to the Bible Club. Later, he led services for the adults. Having a desire to see more people come to know his Savior, he was faithful to do his best to serve where needed. [READ about this in # 7. A New Church in Town.]
The very next day after a man from North Battleford took over leading the services in the Hafford church, Clifford, a native from a neigboring reserve, came to talk to Arnold. He asked Arnold if he would lead a Bible Study in his home. "What do you think, Helena?" Arnold asked his wife who was listening from the kitchen.
"You don't have to go to Hafford on Wednesdays now," she replied.
"Yes, we'll do it," Arnold told Clifford.
For some time Arnold lead the Bible study. Then one day, a pastor from another town showed up and took over leading the Bible study. Three weeks later while driving to Clifford's home, Arnold said to Helena, "If that pastor is there, and if I get the feeling that he wants to continue, I will tell Clifford that we are sorry to stop coming, but we feel they are being well served." The pastor was there. Arnold let Clifford know his decision. Clifford was shocked and sorry to see them not return to the Bible study, but God had something else in mind.
The very next day was a Western Tract Mission Board meeting in Saskatoon as the Director had resigned for health reasons. Soon Arnold became responsible for all the responsibilities of the mission except finances, which he was not good at. There were papers to fill out and sign. Needing a title, he called himself Acting Director.
For ten years Arnold served faithfully as Acting Director. Then at one board meeting, Arnold asked if Joe Homontowski could be the Assistant to the Director. The Board agreed and asked Arnold to be the Director.
Now at 82 years of age, Arnold says, "I am very thankful to the Lord for using someone like me, who had a very low self-esteem, a dummy in school, failing Grade 5 - now to head up a mission. Please don't give up on yourself or on anyone else. If you commit your life to our Lord Jesus Christ, that will make all the difference in the world!" You never know how God will use you if you are faithful to serve Him!
Other testimonies by Arnold Stobbe:
I Would Like That JOY!
The Burn Patient Who Laughed
Overworked, BUT - God Said...
"Visit in the Hospital? . . . Not Me!"
Our House is on Fire!
A New Church in Town
Going to Heaven?
Working with Western Tract Mission
Back to Index of Hope Testimonies
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