Faith Stories

God Walks These Hills With Me by Lorraine Barkdoll

Singing For God by Vivian Strunk

Faith Testimony by Marin Fisher

A Glimpse of God by Mindy Lohman-Hinz

God Answer's Prayers by Kathy Stevens



God Walks These Hills With Me


 “All believers, come here and listen, let me tell you what God did for me. I called out to him with my mouth, my tongue shaped the sounds of music. Blessed be God: He didn’t turn a deaf ear. He stayed with me, loyal in his love.” — Psalm 66:16-17, 20


After my sister‘s untimely death in September 1992, my family went through many months of court trials, delays, and postponements. This meant a number of trips to Gulfport, Mississippi for George and I. On one such occasion, the trial was postponed after we made the trip to Mississippi.

One of our nephews needed to meet up with his family in Arkansas, so we decided to drive him there. After that we decided to relax a few days and take in a show or two in Branson, MO before heading home. We managed to get tickets to the Mel Tillis Show. During the show, Mel sang a beautiful song entitled, “God Walks These Hills With Me.” After the show, I purchased one of the tapes entitled “Beyond the Sunset.”

Some months later, we headed again to Gulfport for more of the trial. I was feeling a little anxious over all that was going on. I remember asking God for strength to get our family through this nightmare. On this particular trip, we decided to cross the Smoky Mountains to get to I-85 in Georgia. It was a beautiful, cloudless, Sunday morning and I decided to play the Mel Tillis tape. Just as we reached the very top of the Smoky Mountains, something unforgettable happened. The song, “God Walks These Hills With Me,” started to play:


“God walks these hills, these beautiful hills
Where my soul is always free
What a comfort to know, I’m never alone
For God walks these hills with me.
Yes, God walks these hills with me.”


That was one of those special moments that I will never forget. As I listened to the words of that song, somehow I knew our family would be okay. I knew we were in God‘s care and that he would help us through the days ahead.


But the story doesn‘t end there. About three years ago, George and I sent to see Mel Tillis and his daughter Pam at a show in Lancaster, PA. After the show, I had the opportunity to talk to Mel and share my story with him. I told him what his song meant to me at a very difficult time in my life. He told me that he got the song, many years ago, from singer Red Foley. Then to my surprise, Mel sang the song to me in the theater lobby.

We never know what or who God will send to help us through our troubled times. We encounter God‘s presence in many different ways. Each time I play this song, I am reminded of that special feeling I had on top of that mountain, and how God took care of my family in our time of need.


Dear Lord, thank you for comforting us and walking the hills of life with us. May we always remember that we are never alone, that you will give us strength to get through life's tough times. All we need to do is call on you. Amen.


~ Lorraine Barkdoll




Singing for God

Singing to the Glory of God for 65 years has been a major portion of my spiritual life. When I became a member of the Senior Choir of Christ‘s Reformed Church, I was the youngest member. We wore black robes and mortar boards as most women at that time wore hats when attending church.


Walk with me down memory lane as I recall some of the music we sang both in this church and other communities. In the early years as a choir member I well remember at our Christmas Eve midnight service we sang several Christmas carols in the catacombs below the sanctuary where the music could be heard by those attending the service. The trapdoor in the Narthex was open, we climbed the stairs and processed down the center aisle carrying candles, singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” which was the traditional processional hymn for many years. During those years the church was always filled; sometimes additional chairs were added.


Our Director of Music was professor Charles Cassel who held this position from 1920 until his retirement in 1956. Professor Cassel also directed a church choir in Waynesboro, PA, and for a number of years our Senior Choir joined this choir to present a Lenten Cantata at both churches. One of my favorite cantatas is “Olivet to Calvary” by J. H. Maunder.


One of the highlights in my memory book is the time our combined choirs, Senior, Chapel and Children sang for the Installation Service of Dr. Frederick Eyster who was elected to serve as President of Potomac Synod. This service was held in Coffman Chapel at Hood College, Frederick, MD. A total of 90 voices presented Mozart‘s “Gloria in Excelsis” from THE TWELFTH MASS. It remains one of the most ethereal anthems I have ever sung. This anthem has been presented several times over the years for special services at Christ‘s Church.


Many anthems I have sung over the years have had deep meaning to me. Some of my favorites are “He Watching Over Israel” by Felix Mendelssohn, “My Eternal King” by Jane Marshall, Ludwig van Beethoven‘s “Hallelujah Chorus” from THE MOUNT OF OLIVES, “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson, “Advent Cry” by Joseph Martin, and “Fierce Was The Wild Billow” by T. Tertius Noble. Dr. Noble came to Hagerstown in the 1960‘s and directed a massed choir of 125 voices in which our choir participated.


On Mother‘s Day 1967, our 30 voiced choir presented Franz Schubert‘s MASS IN G MAJOR with a 13 piece orchestra. Some persons wondered if we would have a good attendance on this particular day. The concert was well publicized and many families in our church and community attended — the sanctuary was filled.
Several other programs come to mind as I look back over the years. Our choir members proved they could not only sing but act as well when for fellowship programs portions of “Fiddler on the Roof” were presented; another evening takeoff of favorite television programs with commercials were presented.


During my daily devotions, many times I read scripture which reminds me of anthems we have sung. Sometimes I break forth and sing the words I remember.


As I retire being the oldest member of the now Chancel Choir, I feel so richly blessed that God gave me a talent I could share. Someone asked if I would miss the choir. Yes, I‘m certain I will particularly in sharing the joys and sorrows of the members who have been “family” over the years. I will be a member of the singing congregation sitting in the pew in which my family worshipped when I was growing up.


Over the past few years we have lost a number of choir members. There are 33 red robes in our robing room. Wouldn‘t it be great to see all of them used?


I would like to share a portion of scripture taken from “The Living Bible”: I Peter 4:10 “God has given each of you some special abilities. Be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God‘s many kinds of blessings.”


Music is an important part of a worship service. If you enjoy singing, why not use your talent as a choir member to glorify God?


~ Vivian Strunk



Faith Testimony

As I looked back on my life, I saw many things that would eventually change me for the
better. I have often been asked about my faith. I would first tell them that I would rather believe,
die, and find out that there is no God, than to not believe, die, and find out that He does exist.


As a child, a group of our family went out in the woods looking for mushrooms, with some
success. As we headed for home we had become disoriented, having walked by the same area
several times. Mom stopped us and she prayed for guidance. When she had finished we started
out again and this time we saw a familiar landmark and found our way out of the woods. Some
may call it luck, circumstance, or any of a number of names. I call it faith.


The first time I decided to go to Honduras, I came down with a bad case of the ―what ifs‖. You
know the feeling. What if the plane comes down and crashes? What if highwaymen shoot up the
bus in a botched robbery attempt? What if I am unable to communicate with the local people?


One evening I had a revelation. There was absolutely nothing that I could do to keep any of
these things from happening. I trusted in my faith in God and went on the trip, having one of the
most inspirational times in dealing with God's people that I ever can recall.


As I rambled through life doing the things that other teenagers and young adults have done
and are still doing, I thought that I didn't need God or faith or anything else. Boy, was I wrong!


Having made so many mistakes and ignoring what was best for me, I'm not sure why I am still
here. God evidently had something in mind for me, especially when He sent me to this church to
worship with this family of faith.


I Believe! I believe in God! My faith is unshakeable. I don't worry anymore because
worrying will not add one day to my life. I refuse to live in fear, although I will admit that there
are times when I am scared.


So do not be afraid of anything that God sends your way. If He brings you to it, He will bring
you through it.


~ Martin Fisher




A Glimpse of God


I have a tremendous fear of lightning. It came from being stuck out in a field on an unenclosed tractor when I was a teenager working one summer on my parent‘s farm. We were baling hay and I noticed the sky getting darker over the other side of the mountain, fields away from where we were. I thought I had some time to get back to the barn, and then all of a sudden here came the lightning, wind, and pouring rain almost immediately. I was so far away from my Dad who was in another part of the field (in the enclosed tractor), the barn and house that I knew I would not have time to drive the tractor to a place to take cover quickly. I had never experienced anything like that in my young life. I had never been so afraid and wondering if I was going to survive. The lightning was so sharp and was everywhere striking all around me. Finally, I stopped the tractor, got off and ran as fast as I could to the house. My legs felt like they were going to give out under me because I was shaking from the fear of how close the lightning was to me. That was definitely one of the scariest experiences I‘ve had in my life.


I tell you this as a background to an experience that happened over a year later when I felt God‘s comfort. Fast forward a little over a year, when I was attending Hood College for my undergraduate degree. I had another experience with lightning and a storm. I was leaving class from the basement of one building to attend class in the library across the street. As I stepped outside, it was storming. I was paralyzed. I stopped, not wanting to leave the enclosed area I was waiting in. Then, out of nowhere a man appeared, whom I had never seen on campus before. At that time, Hood was pretty small and you at least had seen people around before, even if you didn‘t know them. This man appeared with an umbrella and asked me where I was headed. He must have sensed my apprehension. I told him where I was going and he proceeded to walk with me to the library carrying the umbrella over our heads. During our walk, it is difficult to describe, but I was completely calm, felt at peace and did not fear the lightning or storm as I had previously. I felt very comfortable with this stranger, a man, whom I did not know, offering to escort me to another building in the midst of my great fear. One of the remarkable things about this is that normally I would have to know a person well before I would feel this comfortable with them. What surprised me is when I turned to watch him walk away, he was nowhere in sight and I never saw him again during my time at Hood.


For me, God that day was in a stranger, who offered an umbrella, a calming presence and an escort from one building to another. This was an unexpected and unbelievable experience that I will never forget.


These days, I see glimpses of God in my children, when they connect with (and remember!) a scripture reading in church by saying, “Mommy, we have that book!” when I didn‘t even think they were listening. I saw God in my daughter when Matthew was talking with her one night before bed and asked, “Do you get scared at night, Emily?” She responded “No, Daddy, because God is always with me.” Amen!

These are small reminders to remember that God is in our midst. In the usual, every day, ordinary places and faces we encounter each day. May you always feel God‘s comfort and presence when you are faced with fear.


~ Mindy Lohman-Hinz




God Answers Prayers


Praying is an important part of my faith. I talk to and pray to God every day. When something is troubling someone, I always tell them to pray to God. He will give them guidance. However, I have been told by some that God does not answer prayers. They have prayed and prayed, but they have not received an answer. I know we get frustrated and feel that God will not answer our prayers. I can tell you that he does answers prayers. Maybe not as soon as we would like him to answer them. Or maybe God does not give us the answer we would like to have. Just remember God knows what is best for us. I can testify that God does answer prayers because he has answered my prayers. I would like to share some of my experiences with you.


First, when my Dad got sick and passed away I worried about my Mom and the rest of the family. I felt my Dad was the back bone in our family and he knew how to keep us safe and together. After he passed away I prayed every night to God to give me sign that everything would be ok and we would make it through losing my Dad. About two months later during the middle of the night my son Scott came to me and woke me up. I thought he was sick and asked him if he was ok. He said, “Mom, Pap wanted me to tell you that everything is going to be ok.” Scott knew nothing about my prayer, so I know that God used him to answer my prayer. This was such a wonderful feeling of peace.


Just recently a member of my family was having a rough time. When I was talking to her, she said that she has prayed and prayed, but nothing seems to be happening. She was losing hope and struggling to get things she needed. I told her not to give up and keep praying. That night I also prayed for God to give me guidance on what I could do to help her. A couple nights later I woke up with this idea to get a gift card for her. You see she will not ask for help, so I bought a gift card and put it inside a Thinking of You card. I also included scriptures for her to read, but I did not sign the card. I did not want her to know who sent it. When I seen her reply on Facebook, I knew God answered my prayers again. She wrote, ―Opened the mail today and there was a gift from God. Words can‘t begin to describe how much your card and uplifting words and gift meant to me. I was losing hope and you showed me there is always hope. I don‘t know who this was from but you were an angel to me today. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!‖ This touched me so much and she still does not know who sent this special gift from God.


Yes, God does answers prayers! I am living proof of that. He is our rock of salvation. Our God is an awesome God and he will be there to listen and answer. Just ask!


~ Kathy Stevens