I Would Like That JOY! by Arnold Stobbe with Naomi Epp
Arnold, left front, with sister and brothers
Clip, Clop! Clip, clop! The hooves of the two horses thudded against the dirt trail for 45 minutes as the horses pulled a wagon carrying my parents, my younger sister and brothers, and me. Each Sunday morning, whether it was sunny, raining, snowing, or freezing cold, our family bumped along in either a wagon in summer or sleigh in winter in order to attend church. My parents believed in God. Faithfully, they read God's Word to us each day. They longed to grow in their relationships with God, so they joyfully drove their team of horses to church each week.
One Sunday afternoon when I was eight years old, the people from our church drove their wagons down to a nearby lake, Long Lake. There the lay pastors [No paid pastors in those days.] waded into the water with about six other people. To show that they wanted to leave their old lives of sin and live new lives of faith in God, these six people were baptized in the water. As they splashed back to shore, their faces beamed with great joy that shone from within. They have something that I don't have, I thought. I would like that joy!
Soon after our family arrived home from the lake, my parents told me to go and bring the cows home for milking. Being eight years old and the oldest of my siblings, it was my responsibility to walk the half mile across the field to the pasture where the cows grazed and chase them home. That day my feet dragged. I had no joy! Miserably, I plodded along. What's wrong with me? I wondered. I'm not sick. My parents love me. Why am I feeling so miserable? Then the beaming faces of the people who had been baptized flashed through my mind! That's it! I know I am a sinner. I need to confess my wrongdoing to the Lord Jesus Christ. As I neared the pasture, I saw that the cows were down a deep ravine.
Before descending, I knelt beside a fence post and prayed, "Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for dying on the cross for me. Forgive my sins, and make me Your child." I felt a heavy load fall off my shoulders. Looking back, I couldn't see anything, but, I knew that my sins were forgiven. Quickly, I scampered down into the ravine and ran after the cows. I chased them home with joy in MY heart!
Now that God had forgiven me of my sin, He showed me that I needed to apologize to people whom I had wronged. My parents had a maid, and I had teased her by pulling her apron strings. In obedience to God, I went and asked her to forgive me. What joy I felt after I made things right!
God's Word is true. God says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." (John 1:12). I believed in Jesus, and so I was now God's child. In another Scripture, God says, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" (Galatians 4:6). On the basis of God's Word, I knew that I now have the Spirit of God living in me.
Studying at school was very hard for me. No one believed in me. As a result, I felt that I was stupid. Our school in the country went up to Grade 8. Students who wanted to go on to high school had to go and live with people in other towns. I looked forward to the day when I would turn 15 and be old enough to quit school. Then, I thought, I will work hard and become successful.
However, within a month of my 15th birthday, the life of our family changed! One April day, my dad and another farmer were putting sheaves into the straw cutter to make feed for their cattle. There was a chunk of ice at the end of one sheaf, and my Dad reached over to remove it. Suddenly his glove got caught in the rollers. Inch by inch, the straw cutter chopped up his hand and went up his arm. Quickly, my Dad's friend threw the belt off both the engine and the straw cutter in order to stop the cutter. By then my Dad had lost his right arm almost up to his elbow. With only the use of a left hand and constant pain in his right arm, my Dad hired a young man, Dave Nickel. As the oldest son, I was now needed to work on the farm, and I was thankful to quit school.
Within the next few months, God spoke to me to get baptized. However, before doing so, I needed to decide which church I wanted to belong to after my baptism. Is my parents' church the right one for me to join? I thought. No! There are hypocrites. So I looked at other churches. Do they teach the truth according to the Bible? How can I decide which church to join? I observed the lifestyles of the people in the various churches. Then I thought, With which people would I like to take the Lord's Supper? This helped me to decide to worship with the same people with whom my parents worshiped.
So that summer when I was 15, our church again went down to Long Lake. This time it was some other young people and I who had the joy of demonstrating our desire to follow God by being baptized. In His Word, God says, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) After our baptism, we young people joined the church. Knowing that I belonged to a group of God's children filled me with joy.
Although I appreciated the teaching in my church, by 18 years of age I also really longed to be able to go to Bible School. My parents wisely asked me to wait until I was older. During the next few years, some improvements were made to our family farm - a 32 volt power plant, a milking machine, and a motor to pump water. Finally, when my brother John finished Grade 8, he stayed home for a year to milk the cows and feed the cattle. With joy in my heart, I left for my first year of Bible school in September of 1949. However, that next year, John went to another town for high school, so I was again left to take care of the farm. Thankfully, a year later my youngest brother, Ed, was able to do the chores, so once again I could study God's Word at Bible school. As a child, I had wanted joy, and through my teens and into my twenties as I obeyed God, He gave my JOY!!
Other testimonies by Arnold Stobbe:
Overworked, BUT - God Said...
The Burn Patient Who Laughed
"Visit in the Hospital? . . . Not Me!"
Serve Faithfully - God Can Use You!
Our House is on Fire!
A New Church in Town
Going to Heaven!
Working with Western Tract Mission
Back to the Index of Hope Testimonies
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