Hello! We are Jeff and Heather Stutzman. Our lives began very differently, but God in His grace brought us together.
I was born in Indiana on a farm. Ok…actually, I was born in the hospital, but I came home from the hospital to a farm. I grew up in southern Indiana on a small farm and most of my younger years were spent taking care of animals--mostly the 180+ hogs we boarded. I was saved very young when my sister witnessed to me. Later, I began to doubt my salvation. My mind (at the prompting of Satan) kept coming up with questions like, “Did I really, fully understand what I was doing?” In junior high I received assurance of my salvation. I came to understand that we all accept Christ like children. No, I may not have understood all the doctrinal ins and outs of the depravity of man and the vicarious atonement, but I believed I was a sinner and that Jesus died for me and I could go to heaven by asking Him. God began leading me to surrender to serve Him vocationally in junior high, and I submitted to His will. He then began leading me to missions. I was willing and trusted Him to work out the details. Through an encounter with a Filipino missionary, God started leading me to the Philippines. All through high school God kept bringing up the Philippines. I was not serving God at the time, but He kept working on me. I developed a love for aviation while in high school and began working on my private pilot’s license. I tested for my license just days before leaving for college and actually passed before registering for classes at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. One of my flight instructors was a Filipino, so even in this God was keeping the Philippines at the forefront of my mind.
I arrived on BJ campus a young, arrogant freshman with a lot of things for God to straighten out. When I enrolled for college I was outwardly doing what I believed God wanted me to do, but inside I was far from God. It took some very hard circumstances and Christian friends, but God got a hold of my heart and began directing me His way. By the end of that school year I still had a ways to go, but was at least headed in the right direction physically, mentally and spiritually. My major at college required me to stay for two months of summer school. When the second month started, I met a young lady named Heather. One of the first times I saw her, I was at the sand volleyball court with a friend of mine. I pointed to Heather as she was walking over to the court and said to my friend, “You see that girl over there? I’m going to marry that girl.” Sure enough…I married her four years later!
I was born in Barge Memorial Hospital on Bob Jones University campus. My father was studying as a ministerial student at BJU, and after he graduated we moved to Danville, KY. I grew up in Kentucky helping in my father’s church plant as a Sunday school teacher and eventually as a pianist. I was saved at a Christian camp when I was 11 and surrendered to serve God full time at the same Christian camp at age 14. The summer between my junior and senior year of high school I went down to Bob Jones University and took some college level classes through a summer school program. While there I met Jeff, and it was clear to us from the first that it was God’s plan for us to be together.
Us in the U.S.:
We met the summer of 1995 while we were both in summer school at BJU. For 14 months after that we dated long distance while Heather was finishing high school in KY, and I was still in school in SC. God kept us growing together and in Him all through college. I (Jeff), spent the summer in the Philippines in 1997, and it was my time there that solidified in my mind that God wanted me to serve Him full-time as a missionary in the Philippines. Heather was willing to serve God anywhere, and we believed that it was God’s will for us to serve Him together. After college we were married and spent several years living in Indiana helping Ervin Stutzman (Jeff’s father) with a church that he planted while we were in college. While living there and working in our local church, we continued to prepare to leave for the Philippines as full-time, career missionaries. First, we both worked full time jobs for several years to pay off our school bills, and once that was done we began deputation. After much research and prayer, we chose Biblical Ministries Worldwide as our mission board. In the spring of 2008 God had us ready and moved us to the Philippines.
Us in the P.I.:
We arrived in the Philippines in 2008 and began helping in a local church that was already well established and was probably more of a help to us than we were to them. We spent our first two years living in Manila, taking language classes, beginning our lifelong learning of the culture and helping as we could with Cross and Crown Baptist Church. Our first child, Samuel, was born during our first term in the Philippines. His outgoing and engaging personality has definitely opened doors for us in our community.
In April of 2010 we took a short furlough, returning to the Philippines in October, 2010. When we returned, we made preparations and moved about 6 hours north of Manila to the city of Dagupan. Our overall passion has always been to help Filipinos plant local, reproducing churches. The Lord led us to start in the city of Dagupan. While living in Dagupan our second child, Izaak, was born. So far he is turning out to be a quieter, more serious personality than his brother.
In February 2014 we took our second furlough. When we return to the Philippines, we will be moving to the city of Baguio. We will be helping with a training center ministry there in Baguio as well as continuing with some of the work we started in Dagupan.