Reverend Gary Yoder
As a former missionary to South Africa, Pastor Gary Yoder does not have the typical testimony of a pastor. Although he came to know the Lord at the relatively young age of 10, he did not grow up in a Christian home. As a youngster in Columbus, Ohio, Pastor would board the bus of a local Bible-believing church at the behest of his parents. To this day he is not entirely sure why they insisted he and his two sisters go to church when they themselves would not attend, but he is grateful for the push they gave him. He got his first taste of the Gospel when he was 7 years old, and the seed planted in his heart grew to fruition three years later, when he attended Camp Patmos, a summer ministry on Kelleys Island, Lake Erie. That summer Pastor accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into heart, becoming the first in his family to trust in the transforming power of the grace of God. His father accepted soon afterward, and the family began worshiping together at a local Baptist church. Pastor still talks of the effectiveness of camping ministries, undoubtedly encouraged by his own testimony.
“When Christ saved me, I knew He’d done something so wonderful for me. It was something I knew no one else could do. I knew even as a young boy that I wanted to serve Him, because I knew He had saved me by His grace.”
As a teenager in the Baptist church, Pastor got involved as much as he could in ministries there. He participated in youth group, joined a puppet ministry and soon began teaching Sunday School. By the time he reached his early adulthood, Yoder realized that the Lord was calling him to leave his vocation as a construction engineer to serve Him full time. Before he left to begin his schooling, God introduced him to a young woman who had recently graduated from Bob Jones University. Within six months they were married, and on August 5, 1978 Gary and Denise Yoder started a life of serving their Savior together. They spent 10 years in Greenville, S.C., during which time Pastor earned a Bachelor’s degree in Bible and a Master’s of Arts degree in Pastoral Studies. As their time there grew to a close, the Yoders realized the Lord may be calling them to become missionaries, and they submitted to His call.
In March 1993, Gary and Denise landed in Cape Town, South Africa, with their three daughters. He began pastoring an Afrikaans church, but later planted Calvary Bible Church. He also helped found two Bible Institutes in Cape Town: Oostenberg Bybesle Instituut and Calvary Bible Institute. Feeling the Lord drawing them homeward again, the Yoders returned to the United State in October 2006. Gary has been pastoring Chambersburg Bible Church since February 2007, and Denise still serves faithfully at his side, ministering to the congregation with music. The Yoders still see missions as an extremely important responsibility for the local church. The church supports a number of missionaries to nations across the globe, holding a missions conference every Fall.
“I believe that the salvation of souls is one of the key ways in which the Lord gives glory to Himself, not only in this age but in all of eternity. He deserves every bit of it. I’m committed to missions because it brings glory to the Lord.”
Gary and Denise reside in Chambersburg. Their eldest daughter lives in Greenville, S.C., with her husband and children. Their younger two daughters live in Indianapolis, Ind. Their middle daughter is also married, with children.