In the spring of 2009, several families came out from the Amish religion in the southwestern part of Virginia. A few of them were saved and were seeking to gather with true believers in Christ. In early March, they attended a Bible conference in Matoaca, Virginia, where they heard the clear gospel preached for the first time. The Lord was pleased to move in the salvation of more souls, and five professed in March and April of that year.
Soon, the two ex-Amish families began driving 2-1/2 hours to visit the assembly in Denver, North Carolina. A home Bible study was started, and some of the believers from the assembly in Denver traveled to Virginia on Thursday evenings to help with the study. In July 2009, at one of the Bible studies, another formerly Amish man came to trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
In addition to the Thursday night Bible studies, the believers began having prayer meetings and a short gospel message on Tuesday evenings. Two of the families, the Millers and the Schwartzs, were eventually received into fellowship in Denver. God was still working in the area, which is very rural.
The community of White Gate, in the rugged Appalachian Mountains, was once a village boasting a grocery store, a gas station, a post office, and several schools. All that is left now is an old Presbyterian church building, a few homes, and the White Gate Community Center, which is the former elementary school building.
There is an Amish settlement in White Gate, and gospel meetings were held in the Community Center in the hopes of seeing some of the conservative group come out to these meetings. Although not many came, some of the believers’ children were saved.
At one of the gospel series with David Petterson and Dan McDonald in July of 2010, the idea of obtaining a building for the future use of the believers was raised. One day during the meetings, with a little time on their hands, Dan and David drove southwest on Rt. 42 to look for buildings for sale. About halfway between White Gate and Bland, at a wide spot in the road called Crandon, they saw an old church building with a “For Sale” sign. They scheduled a viewing, and with great interest, the believers inspected the building. It had no indoor plumbing, no water or well, no septic, and no restrooms. Built in the 60’s, there was only an old fallen-down outdoor privy.
It was clear that, if the building was purchased, a huge amount of work would need to be done before it was even usable. An offer of $15,000 was made and accepted by the owners, and in January of 2011, renovations began.
Donated funds were vital in meeting the financial needs associated with the purchase and subsequent renovations. Much kindness was shown and many assemblies and individuals sent fellowship to assist with the cost, for which the believers were very grateful. An additional $30,000 was spent on improvements.
First, we installed new plumbing in the basement, tearing out the old carpet and cutting a channel in the concrete floor. Then, plumbing for two restrooms and a kitchen sink was installed. Once the channel was concreted shut, tile was laid throughout the basement, and the restrooms were framed and finished. A well was dug, and an engineered drain field and pump system were installed. The windows in the main floor were replaced, and all the downstairs walls were painted.
Once the building was usable, a number of meetings, both gospel series and ministry, were held in the new hall. In March of that year, the believers began holding regular Sunday evening gospel meetings after driving back from Denver in the afternoon. The believers had been having weekly Bible studies in their homes for several years, and now these meetings were continued at the hall, with the first one held there on March 31, 2011.
As the financial and legal side was organized, it became clear that insurance coverage would be very expensive because of the outdated roofing system, which was held together with steel cables. A meeting was held, and the believers decided to replace the old roof with a modern truss system. On May 30, 2011 the old roof and a small bell tower were torn off and the new trusses and metal roofing were installed. Drywall was hung on the ceiling, and it was textured and painted. Lights were wired in, and a fan installed. Also, the front porch was completely enclosed and made into an entrance. Later, in September, a large concrete step was dismantled with sledge hammers and hauled away. A new landing and steps were built, and vinyl siding was put on.
Soon after these renovations were completed, gospel meetings were held, the first one starting July 31, 2011, with Frank Sona and David Petterson.
On October 9, 2011, 13 local believers gathered to remember the Lord for the first time in Crandon. It was a time of blessing and many believers from other assemblies were there. Ministry was given from several of the Lord’s servants in the afternoon, followed by a gospel meeting in the evening.
In May of 2011 some relatives of the Millers who lived in Kentucky were reached and came out from the Amish. They moved to the Crandon area, and one evening in October the husband was saved after attending a gospel meeting, to the joy of the believers. Although they never came into fellowship, most of the family eventually professed. In August of 2012 the Mignogna family moved into the area from Matoaca, Virginia, and later, in February of 2017, Mr. Mignogna’s grandmother, Barbara Mignogna, also moved to the White Gate area. They are in happy fellowship with the believers in Crandon.
In years following, a gospel tent was pitched in the White Gate community for a series of meetings. One of the believer’s children professed at the meetings in 2013. The Lord has continued to work and all of the believers’ children have professed salvation in Christ, for which we are thankful.
There are currently 18 believers gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ in Crandon. Although there have been times of trial for the assembly, the Lord has preserved His own for His glory and honor.
Our prayer is that there will be a testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ in Crandon, Virginia until He returns. And then, we shall ever be with Him!