Abe Stouffer

The Song of a Soul Set Free

My name is Abe Stouffer.  As of the date of this writing I am 78 1/2 years old. I am

a retired farmer, herd manager and school bus driver, happily married, father of 

3, grandfather of 2, and rejoicing daily, because I have eternal life in Jesus Christ.

I have been a member of Fair Havens community Church for 40 years. 

My parents were farmers in the Stouffville /Markham area.  I have 4 siblings, 2 brothers and 2 sisters, all alive today and all of us are over 70.

We all attended a one room school, all grades taught by one teacher. Many of the students were related to us, as both parents and grandparents came from large families.  Those were largely carefree years, fishing with friends, playing baseball against a school on the next concession.  We attended a local church, Sunday School, Sunday AM &PM and mid-week.

I attended Stouffville district High School but was not particularily enthused about nor was I encouraged to go on to further education. One event in my High School days still affects my comfort today. I broke my left leg in 3 places and missed some school time with a full length plaster cast and I learned all about crutches!

However during this “down time” I began to read and this has been a lifelong joy.

But God was beginning to stir the Stouffer family.  My parents were faithful Christians and would never have admitted, even probably to themselves, any discontent or unhappiness.  My parents began to listen on radio to the message of grace as taught by Dr. M.R. Dehaan, on the Radio Bible Class program.  My parents had been brought up in a performance-based teaching, meaning us trying hard, to be righteous and to please God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 opened their eyes- for by Grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.

My father was a man, very private as to inner emotions, but one day he came to understand grace, God giving us what we don’t deserve, a free gift of salvation, and not by trying hard to perform righteously.  This changed his life completely and soon Mother and all five children received the free gift of salvation  by grace alone, not by works.  Eventually under our father’s leadership we left the church 

of our youth.  We connected with a group who held weekly bible studies in Markham.  This eventually led to the formation of Markham gospel Chapel, now relocated as Markham Bible Chapel, a Brethren assembly.  During my years there, I learned to appreciate their adherence to the word  of God and their Bible teaching ministry.  However until maybe 12 years ago, I must admit that my Christian walk and beliefs were very performance based.

In my personal life, I left school and began to farm with my father and in anticipation of the future, he bought a farm near Woodville and for some years we farmed both properties.  At the age of 18 or 19, I began to get restless and took a job with Ratcliff Lumber at Gormley, Ontario.  Wouldn’t you know it after 2 years there,  I broke my right leg, more casts, more crutches, more time to read and reflect.

After recovery, I went back to farming with my father and S A Stouffer and Sons, partners in farming was born.  I liked farming because I like animals and the satisfaction of planting seed and seeing it grow.

On the corner of the farm, Dad had purchased, was a 50 acre farm with a set of buildings, including a large brick house came up for sale.  I had been praying about an opportunity to start on my own.  Here it was! I bought the 50 acre farm and the next year bought the 150 acres farm from my father. On New Years day, 1965 I moved into the brick house and thus began my life in the Woodville district.

Neighbours and friends(?) were quick to point out that there was something missing – a wife!  There was no wife and no interesting prospects, but after 5 years as a bachelor farmer, I met and married a teacher in Markham named Elaine.  We were married in 1970 and began our lives together in the large brick house. 

The 1970’s brought our 3 children, 2 daughters and a son into our lives.  They remain a joy to us.  Today they are all in their 40’s and established in their own lives.

In the late 1960’s I discontinued my own livestock farming and joined in partnership with my Father in Elmar Farm Landrace, a business of raising purebred pigs with the mission of producing fast growing stock on less feed and to result in a pork chop that was not fat but was modulated with just enough fat to be tasty!  That great tasting pork chop that you ate recently was in part due to the strict improvement program in which we excelled!

The 70’s were extremely prosperous for us as we exported breeding stock to Cuba, Nicaraugua, Singapore, Korea, and especially to the USA.  The Agriculture Department of the University of Tennesee, in one of their courses made mention of the contribution to the American Swine Industry by the Stouffers of Canada.

In our personal lives we attended a local church, where I was Captain of Battalion in Christian Service Brigade  and Elaine served in Pioneer Girls.  However in 1975 we left that church and settled on Fair Havens Community Church the in its second year. We served in the mid week Bible classes until this was replaced by AWANA, where I eventually became Commander, and served as Elder and Chairman of the Board.  Elaine was also active in AWANA.

Things were changing however on the farm front, Dad passed away in 1977. An economic down-turn was on the horizon, however, like many of my generation, my thought was – this probably won’t last long, because I was used to prosperous times!  I chose the wrong time to improve and modernize the buildings which housed our livestock.   I built a new barn, a new shed and generally upgraded all around.  But the downturn continued.  Input costs rose sharply there were poor crop years, the export market was no more, business was bad and every borrowed dollar was on a “floating” interest rate.  My debt load doubled, banks became concerned and began to threaten foreclosure!  I endured many tough interviews with the bank.  I probably was on the verge of a nervous break down.  Through all of this, Elaine was a rock, trusting that God in His timing would deliver us.  I remember, in a time of prayer, I pleaded with God to turn things around for us.  From  deep in my innermost being, a voice seemed to say – the answer is on the way!  I rejoiced in what I felt would be a speedy deliverance, but to-day I realize that the answer was a journey to bring me to the cross, to learn of Jesus, to experience Him. That answer/ journey  is still ongoing.

We sold one of the farms and tried to continue on a smaller scale but could not survive.  Finally, in 1996 we sold our second farm and closed down Elmar Farm Landrace.

I took a job in 1996 as herd manager on a hog farm near Pefferlaw.  We spent 10 enjoyable  years  there. In 2001 we purchased a new house being built in Western Trent.  In 2005 as I was beginning to discuss retirement, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Just before the operation we moved to Western Trent.  I was operated on in Orillia with the operation being a complete success.  P.T.L.!

After recovery from the operation, I took training as a School bus driver, eventually being given the route right through Western Trent!   Driving the bus was a great experience.  They say when the driver takes the wheel, all your troubles are behind you!  There were some incidents, but the greatest joy of driving was the 5 boys, who came to Awana, heard the gospel and received Christ as Saviour.  They stood for truth in their classroom and rejoiced in Jesus on the bus. Four of these boys came to our home once a week for bible teaching, prayer, and fellowship together.  These boys and their families remain very precious to me.

But God was still at work in my life, and a significant happening at church was a turning point in my life.  In the annual election of elders, I was defeated,  my friends had turned against me.  I was hurt and embarrassed, but the greatest wound was to my monster  ego!

A dear brother came alongside me and as we talked, he pointed me to Romans 5:17.  As I read the words “the free gift of righteousness” they bored sharply into my soul!   FREE GIFT  all my life I had tried diligently to live a good life and to please God,  Now I am discovering that the righteousness of Jesus was given to me as a free gift!  I cried!

This illumination showed me that God was doing a work in my inner self (ongoing today) I discovered in 1 Thess. 5:23, that we are made up of spirit (our God relationship) soul(our mind, will, and emotions)  and body (our earth suit. Understandingly this is essential to understanding the Christian life.  I discovered that God wanted an intimate relationship with me.  I had always thought of God up there, me down here.  I understand now that God has given me a new identity – I am “in Christ”.

  I came to understand that when Jesus went to the cross, He shed His blood to “take away”my sins.  But He also died to deal with “sin” the power and nature of which we inherited from Adam.  When death was pronounced on Adam, he lost his relationship with God, he was separated from God.  Romans 5:12

Adam was given a choice in the Garden of Eden.  He could have chosen Life, but he chose to live out of his own resources and strengths.  Had he chosen the Tree

Of Life, he would have been given “eternal life”  the very life of God!

But God sent another One to represent us, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to give us Life,  John 10:10  Abundant life is Jesus Life! God’s work in Christ is clearly laid out in Ezekiel 36:25-27

Scripture speaks of our union with God and Christ.  John 17 introduces us to our “oneness” with God and Christ.  

.  Romans 6 speaks of our “oneness and unity and identity” in Christ,       

clearly defined  in our death, burial and resurrection with Christ and in Christ, 

In verse 11 , we are told to consider or reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  But who was put to death with Christ on the cross?

Verse 6 says our “old man’ or “old self” or who I was in Adam, was crucified with Christ and a “new creation in Christ” arose together with Christ.  (2 Cor. 5:17) 

A new creation in Christ that had never existed before.  I had always had an “on my  guard”  attitude toward sin in my life.  But verse 11 says the power of sin is dead, so now be alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:27 describes our resurrected life in Christ. This verse describes a mystery, now revealed, Christ in you the hope of glory.  This new creation in Christ contains the very life of Jesus.  I Corinthians 6:17- we are one spirit with Jesus.  So, the Christian life is not me trying hard, doing my best in His service,  see again Ezekiel 36:27  “I will cause you to walk in My ways, “  It is the indwelling Christ living in us and through us.  The Holy Spirit’s  work is to conform us to the image of Christ.  Romans 8:29

Does this mean I am sinlessly perfect? No!  There is a remnant of Adam’s life within our bodies called the self life or the flesh.  The warfare between flesh and Spirit is described in Romans 8 and Galatians 5: 16-25  In these truths I rejoice that the “do “and “don’ts” of the Law can no longer condemn me .Romans 8:1

In my personal life, I began to pray that God would do a special work in my life. In 2015, I had a heart operation to replace the Aoertic valve, with a “pig valve”

All is still working well today in 2019.  In 2016 I contracted  a Blood Bacterial infection.  This meant 3 weeks in Hospital and 7 weeks in total , on medication.

Two verses now emblazoned on our church sanctuary  walls,

 Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me, the life I now live in the body, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.

Philippians3:10  I want to know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death and somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Today Elaine and I are retired and enjoying life together.  This is one of the best times in our marriage.  We depend on  each other.  We rejoice in Christ together.  We rejoice in His continuing work in our lives.  We rejoice in what God is doing in F.H.C.C. drawing people to “Know Him” We are greatly blessed in our family.

Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing.