“Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.” – Albert Einstein
The following Life on Life story was submitted by Life Member, Lynn Mossner:
On a beautiful cool crisp fall morning in Michigan, over 30 Life Members came together to support the Critter Barn in Zeeland, Michigan. Blessings were spread around the farm by the team members building, sawing, painting, organizing, and so much more!
It all started as a simple move to the country for the Critter Barn’s founder, Mary Rottschafer and her husband, Wally. However, as a practical joke, shortly after the move, some friends from church bought them a sheep, a goat, two piglets, and a variety of farm birds. In 1984, all Mary and Wally wanted was some more space and a bigger garden, but God had other plans. Before Mary and Wally knew it, requests started coming in from former education colleagues for tours of the farm. In 1990, the first field trips began and the Critter Barn’s mission and vision was born and has only grown from there.
The Critter Barn is dedicated to teaching about farming and agriculture while inspiring people of all ages through the miracles in nature found at the farm.
- To inspire through the animals and crops at the farm
- To enjoy hands-on experiences at a real farm for all ages and abilities
- To connect people to agriculture, farm work, and food sources
- To teach about sustainability and healthy lifestyles
- To enable children to volunteer and develop responsibility
- To share values through farm experiences, farm heritage, and stories
- To celebrate the Creator of all we study
According to a news article from Hope College in 1991, 957 kindergartner’s visited the farm through organized field trips. By 1992, the number more than tripled to 3,100. The Critter Barn now hosts hundreds of groups each year who come to meet the pot belly pigs and cuddle the bunnies while learning “how God’s creation provides food for us,” Rottschafer said. Cats, donkeys, sheep, and even a couple of peacocks live there, happy for the company of the many children who visit. If a group can’t make it to the farm, the Critter Barn is even willing to bring the animals offsite with traveling farm presentations
But with all the visitors, the animals needing cared for, and general wear and tear from Michigan’s four seasons, and the farm facility itself relies heavily on the support of able volunteers to fix, mend, paint, build, and clean so the small employed staff can provide their amazing services to the community.
In steps Life! The Life Members were assigned projects that ranged from painting the big red barn and crisp white fences, to building goat stands, cleaning out and rearranging a storage shed, and even laying a cement floor for the duck enclosure. Everyone had a blast and many walked away feeling they were the ones most blessed.
“By showing up to serve another, you end up having your own soul served in so many ways. And by serving another it allows them to serve another. And one couldn’t help but notice the next generation watching people serve another as the Critter Barn opened its doors for business. Those kids and their families were watching us as we kept working. So round and round the ‘Circle of Life on Life’ goes.” – Brandon Faber (Life Member)
“I’m not an animal lover, and the event wasn’t terribly intriguing to me, but when we got there and started to hear their vision, I got excited! I love how they use animals to train leaders, how the regular volunteers are given responsibility and expected to do it, then turn around and teach the younger kids. I loved their long-term vision of how they are investing in the community. As I painted, I enjoyed the well-organized chaos and seeing so much accomplished in a few hours. But the best part was spending time just working beside my daughter, and enjoying her company. She IS an animal lover and told me facts all morning about the animals we saw. It made me proud to see her interacting with the owners of the Critter Barn and our teammates. She has grown up in the Life community and I am grateful she has so many positive role models.” – Kim Culver (Life Member)
“I liked that the Critter Barn had something fun for every age group. I had a lot of fun painting, seeing all the different animals, and I liked knowing I was helping the community.” – Olivia Culver (tween age daughter of Life Members, Chris & Kim Culver)
Thank you to all of the Life Members who participated in this Life on Life Initiative from Team Momentum, under the leadership of John and Lynn Mossner. Your service and contribution truly made a difference.