Augusta County Fair

Augusta County Fair

Mike Barko recounts his experiences sharing the Gospel at the Augusta County Fair. He details his interactions with various individuals, sharing the Gospel message and witnessing their responses. Mike highlights moments of conviction, realization, and transformation as people come to understand their need for Christ's salvation. He emphasizes the importance of trusting in Christ alone and the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding these interactions. Through stories of conversations with attendees of the fair, Mike showcases the power of the Gospel to change lives and lead people to faith in Christ, giving glory to God for the work being done.


Mike Barko

8/13/202221 min read

Greetings Beloved.

According to Google, this newsletter should take 17 minutes to read. Enjoy.


Please pray for me from August 15 - August 23 as I will be in Ocean City, Md sharing the Gospel, Lord willing. Two dear brothers will be with me learning how to share. Thank you!


Karen Brooks and I spent five days sharing the Gospel at the Augusta County Fair in Fishersville, Virginia. We saw 155 people profess saving faith in Christ alone. Soli Deo Gloria. Favorite stories and pictures follow.

In the last ten years of our attendance, this was the least attended fair that I can remember. This was also the only fair that I can remember where it was just me and one other volunteer. Some were sick, some had experienced recent tragedies, and some just had other life responsibilities. In spite of all this, God still moved in some very special ways. I am grateful.


God opened a door for another ministry, Gospel Hill Ministries, to also be there. Two of their volunteers, Johan Weiss and Ed Hunt, showed up early to help me set up. With my increasing back difficulties, it really would have been difficult or nearly impossible by myself. Thank you Johan and Ed!


The very first group with whom I shared was three young female teens: Alexia, Leah, and Anna. All heard the Gospel and wanted to trust in Christ. One of them told me their heart now felt, 'cleansed and healed.' She then prayed and told the Lord, 'I've sinned a lot and you cleansed me.'

Maybe an hour later, one of these girls showed back up with a friend. She wanted him to hear the message! Amaru sat down to listen.

While I was sharing with Amaru, two of his friends came by looking for him. They also sat down to hear the message!

Amaru, Tray, and Lydell were all being drawn in by the Holy Spirit as they listened attentively to the Gospel. Then, very unexpectedly, the girl that had brought Amaru to hear the Gospel, showed up at the front and yelled...

'We need to go!'

Just as unexpectedly, Amaru yelled back...

'No! I need to stay!'

Folks, I am just along for the ride. God the Holy Spirit is in charge of all of this. My part is to rest in Him and allow Him to bring the ones who need to hear, and trust Him also with the ones who leave. The Lord gives and the Lord takes, blessed be the name of the Lord.

All wanted to trust in Christ alone at the end and prayed with me.

Lydell: 'He saved me...100%...I trust in God.' He prayed, 'Thank you for eternal life.'

Tray: 'He got rid of all my sins because I put my trust in Him...100%...(My heart feels)...awesome.'
He prayed, 'Thank you for saving me.'

Amaru: 'He saved me because I trust Him...100%...relaxed, relieved, and happy.' He prayed, 'Thank you for forgiving me.'



Lisa was a tough one but it ended well. Sometimes people walk off. I am thankful that she did not.

Lisa told me at the outset that she was 100% sure of going to Heaven because, 'I have accepted Christ'.

I have learned to dig a little.

I asked her if she was a good person, 'Yes.' (Her response was a little too confident) We went through the ten commandments and she assured me that she had never been jealous and had never lied. (10th and 9th)

I had to sit back, exhale, and regroup. How do you proceed here? I am still learning. I clarified a few things and I do think she acquiesced. As I moved into the other commandments, the Spirit came and I could see the holy concern and conviction in her eyes.

Humility was now here.

This one went from, 'It's really hot in the kitchen here and I think Lisa is going to leave' to...'I think Lisa is really understanding the Gospel and looks like she wants to trust Christ alone.'

It's all by the Holy Spirit. I am HELPLESS. He is HELPFUL. I must be HUMBLE and let HIM do it. Amen.

If memory serves me correctly, I don't think she understood that Jesus is God. So many don't believe this, and it is so very important. 'Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.' (John 8:24)

Lisa wanted to trust and prayed with me...

'He saved me because I am trusting Him. (My heart feels)...AMAZING!...Full of love...100%...I believe in Him.' (There is a 'softness' to her countenance. Amen.)



Even as I had some initial difficulties with Lisa, Karen had difficulties with a couple named Byron and Jennifer. She asked me for help.

Jennifer was 90% sure of going to Heaven, because she 'asked forgiveness.' When asked why God would forgive her, she kept coming back to, 'Because I asked'. It is not 'because we ask', it is 'because He paid.'

It is the finished work of Christ. We must trust.

As I began to share with them, Byron kept mentioning his goodness as the reason that God would forgive him. I was doing the best I could to help him see that his forgiveness was not based upon his work, but upon the work of Christ alone.

We went round and round a few times. My heart was, 'God, I can't do anything here. You have to do it.'

Complicating matters was the fact the Jennifer kept 'jumping in', trying to help him understand. Unfortunately, if wetellpeople the answer, but don't allow the Holy Spirit toshowthem, they never really get it. They just 'parrot' our answer but the truth never really sinks in.

I have learned over the years to not get upset when people do this, since I too have gotten in God's way. When I try to correct their mistake by saying something, then I make matters worse.

Yield her error to God and continue trusting the Holy Spirit. As I did this, I began to realize something...

As she became more frustrated with him, she began to preach the truth more fervently to him. As she did,she began to understand the very truth that she was struggling with! Soli Deo Gloria!

Now, Jennifer had a firm grasp on the truth. Amen and thank you Jesus.

Unfortunately, Jennifer continued trying to help Byron see the truth, instead of letting the Spirit show him.

It was now time for me to respond. I put my finger up to my lips and smiled at her. She got the point.

As I continued sharing with Byron, he eventually he got the point too...

He was forgiven because of the work of Christ, not because of his goodness. Both were 100% now, and said their hearts felt, 'clean.'

Jennifer spoke up...

'We are going to pre-marriage counseling tomorrow in North Carolina. Maybe this was the foundation we needed.'

'For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.' (1 Cor. 3:11)



Through sharing the Gospel over the years, I have come to see the following truth: to the extent that a person sees their sin, is to the extent that they will appreciate the sacrifice of Christ. Small recognition of their sin = small appreciation for Christ. Large recognition of their sin = large appreciation for Christ.

The more we appreciate Christ, the more we will love Him. Remember Christ said, 'He who has been forgiven little loves little, He who has been forgiven much loves much.'

It all starts with a recognition of our sin.

John sat down with his girlfriend Autumn. He initially told me that He was already saved and 100% sure that he would go to Heaven. Autumn said the same thing.

I asked if they were a 'good person'. John confidently said 'yes', while Autumn proclaimed 'no'. I needed to dig deeper with John.

So many understand they are a sinner. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean much anymore. 'I'm a sinner, you're a sinner, we're all sinners. Ho-hum.'

There were some other core concepts that John was shaky on. We were able to tie up these loose ends as well.

The fundamentals are very important and are not much discussed in churches these days. Pastors assume too much.

We are not good. We deserve Hell. We don't deserve forgiveness. Jesus is God. These are a few core concepts that many professing Christians don't grasp.

John's testimony at the end was a blessing.

Autumns might have been even better.

John: 'He made me realize that I am a sinner.' His prayer to God...'Sorry for not trusting you. I place my trust in you.'

Autumn: 'It helped me to have the whole thing explained from start to finish. Never in my 24 years of going to church was it all explained from start to finish like that.'



Another core concept that professing Christians don't understand is that Jesus is God. Remember what Jesus said...

'Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.' (John 8:24)

Both Jaylynn and Jaden acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God, but didn't understand that He is God.

So I had them read John 1:1,

'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'

I asked, "So who is the Word?"


Then I had them read John 1:14...

'And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us...'

Then I asked...'Who was made flesh and dwelt among us?'

'Jesus...God?!' (Jaden's eyes partly lit up here, so I decided to repeat this one more time.)

After having him read the two verses again, he about jumped out of his chair and exclaimed...

'Wait!...Jesus is God!...Jesus is God!...Wow!...I never understood that!'

Both Jaylynn and Jaden wanted to trust in Christ alone and prayed with me. Listen to Jaden's testimony after her profession...

Jaden: 'He also saved me by putting Jesus down here and taking away all our sins. I feel happy, 100%, because He showed me I needed to trust Him. I never understood it like this...I believed but I didn't really understand.'

Listen to his prayer...'Thank you for showing me a different version of who you are. Thank you for making me happy.'




Cammie and Josh really seemed to understand the Gospel and at the end both wanted to trust in Christ alone...

Cammie: 'He saved me so I can get into Heaven by Him coming into my heart and me letting Him in. I'm really sure. I gave it all over to God.' Prayer...'Thank you for taking my sins away and coming into my heart.'

Josh: 'He made me sure I'm going to Heaven.' Prayer...'Thank you for bringing me belief and taking me to Heaven.'



Sometimes when we share, we really sense freedom and joy in the Spirit. It just flows. At other times, sharing can be a real struggle. It just grinds.

When it flows, I feel like I am moving with the Holy Spirit one step at a time. When it grinds, I can't seem to get in step with Him. I don't know what gets me out of the flow, but it is a great blessing to get back in!


When I finally came out of the grind, the Lord sent three groups of young folks, with four in each group. I think the grind helps me to give up and give it all over to Him. Then the blessing comes.

All twelve understood the Gospel and wanted to trust in Christ alone. Here are a few testimonies...

Colton: 'He showed me the not expect forgiveness to get forgiveness. (My part) is believing.' (We don't deserve forgiveness)

Zach: 'He saved me by giving myself to Him and trusting Him. (My heart feels) warm...110%!'

Griffin: 'He saved me because I gave myself to God. (My heart feels) very full of love for God.'

ReachingTheLost-Mike-Barko-Augusta-County-Fair-With-Karen-Brooks-And-A-Small-Group-Of Four
ReachingTheLost-Mike-Barko-Augusta-County-Fair-With-Karen-Brooks-And-A-Small-Group-Of Four


Karen did a great job sharing with this large Pentecostal family. Unfortunately, the man (uncle?) kept jumping in and interrupting her.
This can be very difficult to deal with. Karen asked for help.

When I came over to help, the man got excited when he recognized me as the guy who holds the cross. He apologized for interrupting and promised to be quiet.

None in this family were sure they were going to Heaven. Mom was stuck on 'Please forgive me'. People are trusting 'their asking' instead of simply believing on Christ.

Fifteen years ago, I shared with a young teenager who was initially 75% sure of going to Heaven because she had asked Jesus to be her Savior. At the end, when she finally understood the Gospel, she told me...

'I now realize that I am savednot by asking but by believing.'

Mom did not understand that 'please forgive me' would not pay for her sins. People are asking forgiveness, but trusting in their works to save them. To make matters worse, they don't see it. Mom was stuck here.

All of her children were too.

When she finally understood the truth, she began to weep.

Deliverance had come.

As the truth penetrated the children's hearts, several of them began crying as well.

She said through the tears...

'I never felt good enough.'

Momwas trying to be good enough.

Unfortunately in many churches a works based salvation message is being preached. This is very sad.

Mom saw the truth just like a young man recently saw it at Ocean City...

'I'm not good enough. I'll never be good enough. I don't have to be good enough.'

Christ is good enough. I am trusting Him.

Mom told me...'He saved me because He loved me...100%...I trust Him.'

Daughter Grace...'He saved me...He cleared up a lot...100%...I put my faith in Him.'

Son Joshua...'He helped me out...He made me sure. My heads more clear. It makes more sense...100%...I put my trust in Him.'

Siblings Justine, Brayden and Natasha all gave similar answers.



Right off the bat, I spoke with two young teenage girls and a group of four young adults. Each wanted to trust in Christ alone.

Next came Hayden. I don't remember the particulars, but this young man really seemed to connect with the Holy Spirit and believe the Gospel.

Hayden: 'He opened my mind and heart. I'm trusting Him for eternal life. (I feel) loved. 100%...because of this talk.'



As I was sharing with Hayden, I could overhear Karen sharing with a large group. You could tell she was sharing with confidence in the flow of the Holy Spirit.

It was a delight to know that even as Hayden was understanding the Gospel, so was Ivy, Taylor, Issac, Hunter and Vladimir. Each wanted to trust in Christ alone.



Two young men Kobe and Austin, really seemed to embrace the truth, especially Kobe. They had a similar reaction as Jaden when they realized that Jesus is God. They didn't about jump out of their chairs, but the light definitely came on! Both wanted to trust Christ...

Listen to what Kobe had to say after trusting Christ alone...

Kobe: 'He gave me a better perception onHis Word. (My heart feels) a lot better, a lot..110% ...very strong...very strong feeling...It says it in His Word.'



Tim said, 'No one can be 100% sure.' Both Tim and his wife Lisa needed to hear the Gospel. Lisa had a recent brain injury that made her very emotional and childlike.

It took awhile, as we went step by step through the Gospel. It was obvious that Tim was understanding as he would pose certain questions at certain points.

After understanding sin and the penalty, He asked...

'So, everyone's going to Hell?'

After understanding Christ's sacrifice for us, He asked...

'So, everyone's going to Heaven?'

As the truth began to sink into Lisa's heart, she just spontaneously broke into outbursts of praise, filled with joy and delight...


Lisa proclaimed this many times with hands lifted up towards Heaven and tears streaming down her face. Oh, that we all could be more childlike and emotional minus brain injuries!

Both got to 100% and wanted to trust in Christ alone...

Tim's prayer at the end: 'Thank you for coming into our lives and taking our sins away. We praise you, believe in you, and trust you.'

Lisa: 'I love Him so very much...accepting Him...I love Him so very much...I love you Jesus.'



Autumn and Kylee were both very interested, heard the Gospel, and wanted to trust in Christ alone.

Here is what Autumn had to say...

'He took everything away that I deserve...all my sins with your fear of going down there away...(My heart feels)...good, I trust God.'




People talk about repentance as turning from sin. In order to do that, you must first change your mind. That is repentance.

Repent and believe the Gospel. Change your mind about who you are, who He is, and put your trust in Him. Amen.

I shared the Gospel with Xavier and he eagerly accepted the invitation to trust in Christ alone. His friend Mike was recently saved, and was very excited as I shared with Xavier.

Xavier: 'He made my mind right. Now I believeHe did something for me. He saved me and made me to be 110%...(My heart) is happy.'

(I wipe my camera lens before every picture, but sometimes it still is very blurry.)



We never really know what truly happens in someone's heart when we share the Gospel with them. All of that is in God's hands.

We know something happens, and their testimonies speak to some degree of what happened in their heart.

'...For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.' (Matthew 12:34)

After hearing the Gospel presentation, both Lilly and Justin wanted to trust in Christ alone. Before prayer, Lilly said...

'I'm an agnostic.'

I had already thoroughly shared the Gospel with her, and figured it was best to just move forward and give the invitation...

"That's okay. Do you still want to pray?"


So we prayed together. Salvation is of the Lord. Just pray and let the Spirit do whatever He wants to do.

Her testimony really surprised me...

Lilly: 'He healed me.'

So I asked...

"He healed you of what?"

'A lot of incidents.'

Then she said she was 'hopefully 100% because God had her sins.'

I don't need to know what exactly happened. The Spirit did something for her and that is good enough for me. Amen.

Justin said...'He saved me. Then he said, 'a lot of personal things.' I'm trusting Him...100%...I trust in God.'



Aaron was engaged with me and answering all the questions. Rebecca was in and out. Levi was out...I think in left field. All three were 'country folk'.

Let the Spirit do it. Focus on the ones who are interested. Pulling on the other ones can create problems.

At the end, Aaron wanted to trust in Christ alone and his testimony blessed me...

'He changed me. He noticed I was a bad person. I believe in Him. (My heart feels) better that I can get out of the electric chair...100%...God gave me the perfect coat.'



Alex had some sort of disability, but he was extremely intelligent. He was very transparent and open as a child. Here was a young man with no guile.

I made the mistake of inviting Alex in while I was sharing with another group. Because this young man was so eager to understand truth. He began asking many questions. Unfortunately, this became a distraction to the others.

God stepped in. Someone left Karen's station and she was left alone. Alex saw this and hopped right up to go talk with Karen. Amen and thank you Jesus!

Alex came back later on that evening. I was available to talk and he sat right down.

Earlier, Alex had thought he was a good person. After listening to Karen, he now knew he wasn't.

What was the issue now?

He was still 'trying to be good.'

This was the source of his constant anxiety he was struggling with.

He was trying too hard.

'No one is good except for God alone.' (Luke 18:19)

You can't be something that you are not. Impossible. It's like banging your head against a wall. Very painful and definitely a source of anxiety.

Instead we trust God. His Spirit does it for us. (Illustration for this is in the previous newsletter)

After sharing the Gospel, this young man without guile eagerly received the truth and prayed with me..

"He saved me because I believe in Him. (My heart feels), really, really, really good...100%...because of Jesus.'



Karen was sharing with Lux and Camila. They said something and Karen did not know how to proceed. She asked for help.

One of the young girls had used an expression that Karen was not familiar with. Because Karen had done a great job of sharing the Gospel with these two young girls, they were more than ready to trust in Christ alone...

Lux: 'He made me feel loved knowing I can put my trust in Him...very sure...knowing that He put Himself in that position and took the fault for my sins.'

Camila: 'He showed me I can really put my trust in Him...(My heart feels) loved...100%...God put Himself in my place.'

Girls too young for a picture.


Isaac already claimed Christ. He sat back as I shared with his two friends Makel and Alex. Both were very drawn in to the message by the Holy Spirit.

At a few different points, Isaac made some comments which hindered the Spirit. He didn't realize this, but his comments were legalistic and were coming from a religious spirit.

Not responding to his comments, I just surrendered them to the Lord and continued sharing with Makel and Alex. Thankfully, Isaac wasn't offended and allowed me to continue sharing.

At the end, it seemed that both Makel and Alex had a better understanding of the Gospel than Isaac. He probably was saved, but came from a legalistic church. If I had tried to correct him, I probably would have lost his two friends.

This was another reminder of how important the Gospel of Grace really is.

Alex: 'He made me full of love...100%'

Prayer...'God, thank you for saving me a spot in Heaven.'

Makel: 'He saved me because I believe in Him...(My heart feels) full of love...100%...God loves me'

Prayer...'God, thank you for allowing me to believe in you.'



Karen arrived in the morning and was able to lead several to Christ before I showed up in the early afternoon. Later she shared that it was God ordained for her to be there that morning. Amen.


Little Amelia told me she was 100% sure she would go to Heaven because she 'loved God and loved helping others.'

Want to enter Heaven on that basis? Love perfectly, 24/7, from the moment of your birth to the moment of your death.

Amelia then told me she was a 'good person'. So we took the test...the ten commandments. As we were going through them, she admitted to having been angry and said...

'I get angry with my sister and I judge her when she doesn't do the right thing.'

The Holy Spirit was giving this precious one insight into the sin in her own heart. The little ones have no guile. Amen.

When we trust in our goodness, we easily judge others. I know this from experience.

After we went through the commandments, Amelia readily admitted to being guilty and understood the penalty...Hell.

How would she escape the penalty?

She said...'Try to fix everything and do better.'

When she got in trouble with mom and dad, didthatremove the penaltywith them?...'No.'

Wouldthatremove the penaltywith God?

She got the point.

I explained that someone else had already taken her penalty...God. Because of what God did, she could go to Heaven if she trusted Him.

Thinking 'she was good', 'trying to fix everything and do better', who was she trusting?

When Amelia saw that she was trusting herself instead of God, tears began to form in this precious little girls eyes. Very convinced that she already understood, I told her to tell God what was on her heart.

She folded her hands in front of her chest and prayed...

'God, thank you for everything you do for me. Thank you for taking my punishment. You have my heart...100%.'

Before she left, she prayed again...

'You have my heart.'



Bobby told me, '110% sure, because I believe.'

I asked, "Are you a good person?"


As we were going through the commandments, you could really see the conviction in his eyes. At one point he said...


When we really understand the Gospel, we have no goodness to trust in. Then, and only then, we trust in Christ.

The two coat story really brought clarity and Bobby eagerly trusted Christ alone...

Bobby: 'He smacked me up some...It's the coat deal...100%...He gave His Son.'



Only the Holy Spirit can show people the truth. Sometimes it can be a real struggle. Karen needed help with a Spanish couple, Ed and Fanny.

Husband Ed was translating my words to his wife Fanny. She looked distant and possibly upset. I was having trouble reading her. Was it a language barrier or was there something else going on? Ed was understanding, albeit very slowly.

What do you do? You don't want to bother people, but you also don't want to bail out. These are the Words of Life that will save people from Hell.

God help me! He did. Ed slowly came to see that he was trusting in Himself instead of God.

How about his wife?

She still looked distant. Thankfully, because Ed now understood, I was able to hone in on her.

I did the best I could to be both gentle and yet direct. I told her that if she was really trusting God for her salvation, she would be 100% sure.

At this point she began to weep. Ed teared up as well. She then told me that she had been through a whole lot in her life and that God had been with her the whole time.

I then explained the difference between 'temporal faith' and 'saving faith'. (D. James Kennedy) Temporal faith in trusting God for the things of this life: healing, provision, protection...etc. Saving faith is trusting that God will take us to Heaven when we die.

Fanny came to understand that she neededsaving faithand wanted to trust in Christ alone to save her from Hell...'right now'.

Both prayed. Ed told me...

'He helped me...I started trusting Him...I was trusting myself...(My heart feels)...better...much better...100%...God takes all the punishment as we keep trusting Him.'



Many people we speak with have already been baptized. Many of these same people do not understand the Gospel.

They (1) make a decision for Jesus and (2) start living for Him. The first is aresponseto the Gospel and the second is aresultof the Gospel.

Neither are the Gospel. Most churches preachresponseandresultbut don't actually preachthe Gospel. They don'trealizethis.

Many of these baptized people still think they are good and they don't realize that Jesus is God. If we don't trust the person and work of Christ alone, how can we be saved?

After sharing the Gospel with Kristen, she told me...

'100%...I have faith that Jesus took away my sins...stop trusting myself and start trusting God...(My heart feels)...more confidence.'



Amber was 100% because she 'believed in the Lord.'

I asked her...

Are you a 'good person'?...'Yes'.

Is Jesus God?...'No.'

If we are not trusting the person and work of Jesus Christ how can we truly believe in the Lord?

In that case,whoare we really believing in?

So many of these people say they are deserving of Heaven.

If we think we are deserving of Heaven, who are we really believing in?

After thoroughly sharing the
Gospel with Amber, she came to realize that she wasn't deserving of Heaven because she wasn't a good person. She also came to realize that Jesus is God and that she could be saved only because of Him. She started believing in Him and prayed with me...

'He sent me here to talk to you. I can't believe in myself. I need to believe in God. He kept my 4 year old quiet this whole time...100%...(My heart feels) great...I trust God.' 'I love you Lord, thank for everything.'



Jared, like many others, after trusting Christ alone said...

'He saved me because I believe in Him.'

Jared, unlike many others, after trusting Christ alone said something to God I don't think I have ever heard before...

'Youabsolutelysaved me.'