“Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers … For the
Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked
leads to destruction.” Psalm 1: 1, 6.
During your lifetime you will come in contact with many people who will
exert an influence on you – relatives, friends, teachers, employers
and others. Sometimes that influence may be just a result of what you
see, hear, or feel. Other times the influence may be an intentional
act. Sometimes that influence will be good; sometimes it can be very
bad. Who you “hang around” with is very important. Your
friends will definitely influence what you think and what you do. This
can be very positive or very negative.
Even “good” people, who don’t really know the Lord,
can be a negative influence. They can cause you to cool in your love
for the Lord and in your service for Him. Over the years I have watched
many young people who loved the Lord marry good moral partners who had
no real interest in spiritual matters. The neutral spouse never became
more spiritual, but the spiritual spouse always became more neutral
in their love and zeal for the Lord. Don’t let that be the case
in your life! Your spouse may be the biggest influence in your life.
Your grandma has been that to me.
I thank the Lord for people that He brought into my life at various
times. Not all were Christians, but I learned valuable lessons from
each. Here are some of those and some of the lessons I learned.
Without a doubt, my parents had a major influence upon my life.
They shared and modeled the importance of knowing and serving the Lord.
They taught me faithfulness – we were always in church, for all
services, even when it meant driving many miles or going through bad
weather. They drug me away from Little League practices to go to prayer
meeting – they knew I’d never be a major leaguer but that
I had the potential to be a faithful Christian. They showed me, by example,
the importance of caring for and helping others. They showed how to
make it without much money or material possessions and how to work hard.
They taught me good manners and corrected my English. And while I didn’t
always appreciate those things then, I certainly do now. My brother
Terry and my sister Kendy have also been special influences on
my life in so many positive ways. I praise God for a wonderful family!
My grandparents, Grandpa and Grandma Wolf, were special people.
I spent considerable time with them while I was growing up. I spent
most weekends with them during my years at Susquehanna. Grandpa Wolf
was really my pastor during those years. He was the Godliest man I have
ever known and I say that based on what I observed the many times I
stayed in their home. He had a heart for his people and was a great
visitor (over 1000 visits each year). He took a brief nap every day
right after lunch, and then he was off to visit. He never complained
and he always found something good to say about people, even when they
were critical of him. He was a man of prayer and I knew he prayed faithfully
for me each day. He was a special person. Grandma Wolf was special,
too. I felt her love and concern for me. I saw her function humbly as
a pastor’s wife. I saw her multiply what little she had. I saw
her exercise her gift of hospitality. The parsonage was always open
to others. She cared for her family. Christmas at their home was always
a special time with great memories. I miss them.
My uncles and aunts were tremendous influences. Not only were they examples
of Godly living, but they also cared for me. Ellen and John Derck
have always been very special and close to me. We lived in the same
house for several years in Lancaster. I enjoyed visiting when they lived
on Skyline Drive in Lancaster, and in Virginia, Connecticut, and Douglasville.
They often came to support us when we ministered, especially at Old
Mill. Uncle John often surprises me with telephone calls, often after
Penn State games. Beats and Marlin Derck entertained us often
in Binghamton and Hanover. They allowed me to stay with them overnight
when I traveled to their area with the Susquehanna basketball team.
Thelma and Bob Smock took care of me when I used to help with
the tents at Mizpah Grove. They introduced me to pizza. When I was a
teen they often included me in their youth events in Terre Hill. We
spent much time with them when they served in Ephrata and we modeled
much of our ministry after their special work with children. They used
to draw over 1000 children for DVBS. They taught all their scripture
verses by putting them to music and we “stole” that idea
from them. As we grew older, we always looked forward to the week that
we would spend with them at Pinebrook.
Marjorie Enck (later Kauffman) was my English teacher in seventh
and eighth grade. She was a strict teacher who made you stand to recite.
If you couldn’t answer her questions, she gave you her “pills”.
That meant you had your name placed on the board, for all classes to
see, and then you had to report to her after school to work on the lesson
until you could answer her questions. Was I prepared for class? Without
a doubt! Did I enjoy this experience? No! Did I learn from her? Yes,
I probably learned more from her than from any other teacher I ever
had. She was tough, but good.
Roy Hertzog, Charlie Mann, Leonard and Nina Buck were all 10
to 15 years older than I was but they took me under their care when
I worked as a young teen during the summer at Mizpah Grove. All four
became missionaries. All four taught me valuable lessons about serving
the Lord. They taught me that Christians can have good, clean fun. And,
their homemade ice cream was exceptional.
Bill Young was the editor, owner and my boss at the Lititz
Record Express. He loved his cigars and definitely was not a believer.
But he taught me how to write and how to layout a newspaper page. I
learned so much about publications from him. He was special because
he trusted me and had faith in me even though I was just a high school
kid. Then, during a summer while I was in college, he allowed me to
practically run and publish the entire paper. George Crudden
was sports editor of the Sunday News for many years. When I worked there
on the editorial staff most of the staff treated me like the college
kid I was and they didn’t have much time for me. However, George
treated me as a capable writer with potential. He let me work for him
whenever he could and he challenged me with interesting and exciting
assignments. For many years he continued to use me to cover games during
football season and he always expressed confidence in me and satisfaction
with my work.
Dr. Robison was my math professor at Susquehanna. He was elderly
– I think he might have been there when Grandpa Kauffman went
there. He was very respected and he was a good teacher. One day he had
me teach a lesson in Vector Analysis on Kepler’s Laws of Motion.
I worked hard to prepare and the lesson went well. After I was done
he not only complemented me but also said that I should be a teacher.
That was one of the things that convinced me to change from engineering
to education. Dr. Emil Pollock was a professor that I had for
about half of my graduate courses at Bucknell. Usually I had him for
8 a.m. classes, often on Saturday mornings. He loved to drill you in
class and he would question a person for about 20 long minutes or longer
until he was sure that you understood and saw the whole context. His
first question on every exam was “define”. He was tough,
but fair, and you couldn’t help but learn and really understand
Jim Herrold was the Christian friend that I needed to help
me during those critical college years. Our friendship grew and we have
always treated each other as brothers. Even our families were close
and we have shared many joys and sorrows over the years. I pray that
you may find a friend like this.
Rev. Jansen Hartman was a close friend of Grandpa Kauffman.
He was one of four brothers who entered the ministry. He served as President
of Berean Bible School and he was actually our pastor when we lived
in New Cumberland. I was fortunate to spend much time with him over
the years and he always challenged me spiritually. I will never forget
the time when as a teen he asked me, “Barry, how do you know that
you are saved?” Since I had grown up in a Christian home, I had
never really thought about that before. This made me begin to seek to
know what I believed and why I believed it. He was a real influence
on my Christian growth.