Recent News

Recent News

Mike discusses various activities, including weekly Gospel-sharing events, participation in the Highland County Maple Festival, and reflections on his father's passing. The post highlights instances of sharing the Gospel with individuals, emphasizing the importance of trusting in Christ's sacrifice for salvation rather than personal deeds. The narrative reveals moments of connection, compassion, and spiritual transformation as Mike engages with people in his community, ultimately sharing a message of grace and faith.


Mike Barko

5/14/202217 min read

This newsletter should take about 15 minutes to read.

Greetings Beloved,

Since our last newsletter was a teaching newsletter, I did not update you regarding our outreach events. Let me do that now, and then I will move on to more recent news. God bless you all.


Paul Collins, Karen Brooks, Ben Varepa and Rob Gilmer continue to join me in our weekly events. We share the Gospel in front of the courthouse, at J.M.U., and as we hold the cross. At these venues, we have seen around 260 people profess saving faith in Christ alone in the last several months.

Here is Ben, Rob, and Karen sharing the Gospel on court square.



Paul Collins holds the cross with me on most Friday's. It brings great joy to my heart to see Paul waving and smiling at people when I arrive. What greater joy do I receive upon arriving when I see someone else with him waving and smiling! On this particular day, a young man had come out to help Paul, who had shared the Gospel with him the week before.

Here is Paul after he made his own cross...

ReachingTheLost-Mike-Barko-Paul-Holding-The-Cross-He-Made-On Route-33
ReachingTheLost-Mike-Barko-Paul-Holding-The-Cross-He-Made-On Route-33


Because of Covid, the Highland County Maple Festival was cancelled for the past two years. Thankfully we were able to participate in this years event. This festival has occurred on the second and third weekends in March all the way back to 1958.

On the first Saturday, around 4 p.m., the windchill was -2 below. Yes, not many people were there, but I was amazed at how many people sat down to listen even in the cold. The cold caused some to get up and leave, but most stayed and heard the full presentation of the Gospel.

Propane heaters placed directly in front of people provides incentive to remain and listen. However, don't place the heater too closely. One day part of my pants caught on fire. I guess you could say 'I was on fire for the Lord'.

Because of the extreme cold, it was very difficult to write stories and keep accurate records. We probably saw 90 - 100 profess Christ alone as Savior during this event. When we have a full crew of workers, and the weather is halfway decent, we usually see several hundred make professions. God is in charge of all of this.

Here are two with whom I shared on the first day who wanted to trust in Christ alone. If you look closely, you can see the snow blowing.


Most of you are very aware of the difficulties in leading an old order Mennonite to a profession of faith in Christ alone. Well, it gives me great joy to report that Karen Brooks did just that. Great job Karen.

Our dear brother and friend Sam Hammaker came all the way from Baltimore to help us both weekends. For the past several years, the roof on my ministry van has been leaking. Sam spent six hours one Saturday fixing the leak. Thank you Sam. Sam is to the right of the Mennonite man.


Jessica was an extremely liberal Catholic. She initially proclaimed, 'Everyone is good and as long as you do your best and help other people you will go to Heaven.' After giving me permission to share, she cautioned me that I would not be able to change her mind.

God had other plans. I probably spent over 45 minutes sharing with her. Gradually she began to move to the edge of her seat as she hung on my every word. Little by little, the Spirit chipped away at her wrong thinking until finally she was very anxious and eager to place all of her trust in the person and work of Christ alone. Amen.



Karen and I spent most of Thursday March 31st at J.M.U. sharing the Gospel. Looking at my phone at the end of the day, I noticed a plethora of text messages from my sister Katie in North Carolina.

My dad was being taken to the intensive care unit at the hospital in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The following morning I drove down to see him.

My sister and mom were already at the hospital urging me to come quickly. I kept praying that I would make it in time. I am very thankful to God that I did.

Dad lasted here on earth until the following Tuesday evening, April 5th, when he graduated to glory. I had some really good times ministering to him at his bedside. He was in and out of consciousness, but there were some very blessed moments for which I am very thankful.

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thes. 4:13-18)

Thank you God for saving dad. Amen.

During this very difficult time, my heart was not in a place where I wanted to share the Gospel with others. Instead, the ministry flowed naturally out of a deep love and concern for my dad. Several times, doctors and nurses came into the room to update our family regarding dad's condition. At the end of the meeting, I would request that we all pray together.

Because of the dire urgency of the situation, the medical staff very graciously prayed with us. Many times I just hugged them expressing my gratitude and love. Some of the staff were already believers and that was a true blessing. I got to minister together with a chaplain at dad's bedside one morning. Based upon our conversation, I sensed that he was 'a live one'...that is, a true believer.

One afternoon after visiting dad, my brother and I were pushing my mom in a wheelchair back to the parking deck. It was a very long haul. On the way, we noticed an older, very heavy African American woman pushing a walker. Because my heart was grieving for my dad, maybe I was more compassionate and sensitive to the needs of others.

Whatever the case might have been, I offered to help her. Well, her push walker had a seat for her to sit down. She sat down and I pushed her in the chair while my brother Chris pushed my mom.

After a few pleasantries at the commencement of our trip, I threw out a few 'Praise the Lord's.' She responded in like fashion. Her husband was also in I.C.U.

I began to sing, 'Leaning on the Everlasting Arms' as I pushed her through the hallways. She eagerly joined in. Medical staff and patients alike lit up as our song fell upon their ears. People really seemed to be moved by the Spirit as we walked by and they gazed upon us.

Because the hallway was long, she was heavy, and I was very tired, it became an excellent cardio workout. On top of this, my back was hurting. Needless to say, it was hard to hold back the volume and we just belted it out together. When we finished that song, we moved on to 'How Great Thou Art'.

When we finally got back to the parking deck, she notified me that her niece would be arriving in 15 minutes. I got to share an abbreviated version of the Gospel with her. That was all I had in me. She did not understand that Jesus is God so I spent some time discussing that with her. When her niece finally showed up, she seemed to be examining who I was and what my motives for helping her aunt could possibly have been. Love just loves and lets all this go.

When loved ones are suffering, it is very easy to just 'let yourself go'. Working out at the gym my mom and dad belonged to gave me strength. A few of the young guys helped put some of the plates on the bars for me to prevent me from hurting my back. I ended up sharing the Gospel with one of these young men after my dad died. This story follows at the end.

The day after dad passed, many of the gym members came up and comforted us in our loss. Many of these people from this small gym knew and loved dad.

Mom participates in a 'Silver Sneakers' exercise class three times a week. The class had already begun when mom and I walked into the class on Wednesday, the day after dad passed. When they saw us, everybody in the class stopped, eager to know how dad was doing because they had been praying for him. The instructor Laurie spoke up...'How's Jim?'

A collective sigh of grief rose from the class when we informed them of dad's passing. Some cried with mom and myself. I really wanted all of us to hold hands and pray together, but I didn't want to interrupt the class.

The instructor Laurie spoke up, 'Mike, would you lead us all in a prayer?' I suggested that we all hold hands in a circle and pray together. Each person had the option to pray, and then squeeze the hand of the person next to them giving them the option as well. I don't know for sure because my eyes were closed, but it seemed like everyone or almost everyone in that circle offered up a prayer. At the end, I led us all in 'Amazing Grace'. Now that was a real exercise class.

"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (1 Tim 4:8)

The pastor from my sister Katie's church came by on Saturday to comfort us. He also brought a motherload of Chinese food, which was just what the doctor ordered. So many other families from her church brought food by the next week, that when I left I was forced to take a motherload of food home with me!

Speaking of mothers, my mom encouraged me to leave the next Thursday because she wanted me to hold the cross on Good Friday. I was not planning on doing that, but listened to her advice and I am glad that I did. What a picture of grace it was for my mom to be thinking of others during her time of extreme suffering.

After my dad passed, I figured that it was best for me to 'get right back in the saddle' and start preaching the Gospel again. I decided to start with two of the young men who had been so gracious to help me move some of the weights around to protect my back.

The first young man with whom I shared was William. He was going through a very rough spot in his life and toward the end of our time sharing together got some tears in his eyes. After sending him our follow-up text message which has five You-Tube salvation videos in it, he responded with the following text message...

'Thanks Mike. I watched all of this, certainly is great stuff. Odd you would run into me at such a trying time in my life, I am thankful for meeting you.'


The very next day I met Evan and shared the Gospel with him. Immediately after sharing with him, I wrote down all of our conversation as I sat in my car in the parking lot so I could include it in this newsletter.

My heart was still in a very tender place as I shared with Evan. I wish that I could always share with such grace, but certainly don't want to continually experience this type of suffering.

Here is a quote from Paul Washer on street preaching...

'One of the things I found most effective in street preaching is that you need to build, always, a relationship with the people to whom you are preaching...and that can be done in a few seconds with just a smile, with a look at them, talking to them in a certain way so that you begin to relate to them so that they see, 'Hey, this isn't a crazy person. This is someone who really thinks he has something to say.''

I approached Evan and shared the following with him...

'Thank you for your help moving the weights for me last week. It meant a lot to me during my time of grief. I wanted to give this bracelet to you as a thank you.'

Evan was very appreciative of the bracelet and expressed his genuine thanks. I had already determined in my heart that I was going to give him the bracelet as a gift even if he did not want to hear what the colors meant.

I then asked this question probably the most humbly I ever have...

"Now, would you like for me to share the colors with you. It will take a few minutes..."

'Sure, that's fine.'

"So, what is your name?"


"Wonderful...a great segue to my next question...Evan, from a 0-100, how sure are you that you would go to Heaven?"

'99...because I followed Him and I tried my best.'

"Following Him is beautiful, and I don't want to suggest that He doesn't want you to follow Him, but how well have you followed Him your entire life?"

'Well...' (hesitation and pause)

"Let me say this, if you want to get to Heaven by 'following Him', do you know how well you have to do that? You have to be perfect. You must follow Him perfectly. That is not going to work, right?"

Evan nodded in agreement.

"So, following Him is beautiful, but God doesn't want you to trust in that, what does He want you to trust in?"

Evan was stuck. No idea.

"Let me show you. Let's look at the next color on the know what that is, right?"


"Let's look at the ten commandments. How many of the those do you think that you have broken?"

'Oh, maybe a few.'

"You ever lie?"


"Me too. Steal?"


"Ever copy an answer on a test?"

'Oh, yeah.'

"What would that be? (Smile) You know, I haven't robbed a bank, but I've left work early, loafed on the job, took too long on a break?"

'Yeah, me too.'

"We're not bank robbers, but we have stolen many small things. I've copied c/d's when I didn't want to purchase one. How old are you?"


"I've looked too long at"


"You remember what Jesus called that?"


"Remember....'You have heard that it was said, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I tell you that if you look on a woman to lust after her you have already committed adultery in your heart. So that would make us..."


"Yes, how about ever hated?"


"Do you know what that is called in the heart?...Murder. Did you know that?"


"So, what does that make us?"


"Yes, one more, and thank you for your humility. Every say OMG?"


"Did you know that is using God's name in vain? So, we really haven't 'followed Him'. We've broken the commandments. So, what are we called because we've lied?"




"No, that's a football team..." (Smile)

'Thieves' (Smile)

"There you go. Because we've lusted???"


"Hating makes us..."

'Haters...(this one is hard for people to receive)'

" remember?"

'Yes, murderers.'

"And because we've used God's name in vain we are blasphemers...You see all of that?"


"So, this is why Jesus said no one is good except for God alone. We've all broken the commandments. With that record, would you be innocent or guilty?"


"So, do we deserve Heaven or Hell?"


"How do you get out of that penalty?"

'Ask forgiveness.'

"That is a good thing, but let me explain why that is not going to work. You ever get a speeding ticket?"


"What was the fine?"


"If you say, 'Please forgive me', but you don't pay the fine, what does the judge say?"


"Why does the fine need to get paid in order for the judge to forgive you?"


"Yes, or justice. If 1000 people got speeding tickets, and everyone says, 'Please forgive me', and no one pays the fine, what kind of a judge is that?"

'A bad one.'

"Right, so if you pay the fine, the judge can be just and let you go. Now, here's the problem. God's fine is not monetary, right? The wages of sin is death. His fine is spiritual death. So, if you can pay this fine, then God can let you go. The problem is, if you die spiritually, where do you go?"


"Right, so if you pay the fine you go to Hell. How does the fine get paid?"

'I don't know.'

"Anything you can think of?"

'No.' (He looked concerned.)

"You want help?"


"Who is Jesus?"


"Yes, Amen, beautiful. You know the Trinity?"

'Holy Spirit, Lord, Jesus...uh...Father, Son, Holy Spirit.'

"Yes, great. So, which one is God, or are they all God?"


"Excellent. Now, let me share what He did for you. Does God hate?"


"Alright, now suppose I was beating a baby with a baseball bat. Would you be indifferent to that, or would you hate that?"

'I would hate that.'

"Excellent. If you truly love the baby, then you must hate what I am doing to that baby. If you are indifferent, something is wrong. We don't hate people, we hate sin. So, how much does God love you?"

'A whole lot.'

"Yes, and how much does God hate your sin?"

'The same.'

"Yes, if He poured out His wrath or hatred for your sin upon you, what would happen to you?"

'I'd go to Hell.'

"If He didn't pour it out, and just decided to forgive you, would He be a good judge or a bad one?"

'A bad one.'

"So, where did His wrath go?"

'It went to Jesus on the cross.' (Most people don't make the connection here.)

"Yes, very good Evan. The judge removed His robe, came down and took your place in the electric chair. All the wrath and judgment went to Him. Now, there is just love and forgiveness left for you. So make sure that you don't trust in anything you are doing to go to Heaven. Put all your trust in what He did for you at the cross. If a murderer looked at a judge and said, 'I followed you', what is the judge going to say?"

'No, you didn't.'

'Right, and that would make Him angry. Look at Him and say, 'Oh God, I've broken all the commandments and I haven't followed you. I deserve Hell but you took my place in the chair and I am putting all my trust in you. God really loves you Evan. He loves you so much and just wants you to trust Him. So, the red bead is where He was crushed for you, shedding His blood on the cross. He took your punishment. What happened three days later?"

'He rose.'

"Yes, did you know that is your receipt?"


"You know what your receipt says?...'Paid in Full. I love you very much Evan. Make sure that you only trust Me.' If I paid your speeding ticket for you, what is the reason you can go?"

'What you did for me.'

"What little white piece of paper can they give you as proof that I paid the fine?"

'A receipt.'

"Yes. What is your favorite dessert?"

'Lava cake.' (Big smile)

"So, I buy you that at Walmart, and you try to pay the cashier again. What would you be saying about my payment?"


"Can you make the connection here?"

'Yes, I need to trust His payment not mine.'

"Good. So if you trusted His payment, how sure would you be that you would go to Heaven?"

'Pretty sure.'

"How sure?"


"And why?"

'Because I trust Him.'

"Beautiful. Now, if you are trusting yourself, then who is your Savior?"


"Is that going to work?"


"So, who do you need to trust?"


"When we started, who were you trusting?"


"And trusting yourself, you go to Hell. So, most important question anyone will ever ask you. When do you want to put all of your trust in God?"

'Right now.'

"So, what is the only thing that saves you?"


"Who are you going to trust?"


"Who is going to save you?"


I put my hand on his shoulder. "Say this, God, I'm not good. I haven't followed you. I can't save myself. I stop trusting me, and I start trusting You. Thank you for forgiving me, saving me, and coming into my heart. I trust you as my Savior. Amen. Excellent. So, whoever believes in Me has..."

'Eternal life.'

"Excellent. So, what does that tell you?"

'I'm going to Heaven!'

"How sure?"



'I have eternal life.'

"And WHEN do you have eternal life?"

'Starting now and forever.'

"Beautiful. Suppose we had a coat. Every time we sinned we put a mark on our coat. What would our coat look like?"

'A lot of marks.'

"Yes, now what do you think God's coat looks like?"

'Perfectly clean.'

"Excellent. Christ didn't have any sin...clean coat. But God made Him to become sin for us. Do you know where God put your sinful coat?"


"If the coat is on you, where does all the judgment and wrath fall?" ( I put both my hands over him.)

'On me.'

"If He just forgives, throws it away and doesn't punish, what kind of a judge is He?"


"So, do you know where He put your coat?"

'He wore it.'

"Yes, all of the judgment and all of the Hell went to Him. What is left for you?"

'Eternal life.'

"Have you heard of the law of double jeopardy?"

'Yes. You can't be charged twice for the same crime.'

"So, who was already judged guilty for all your sins: past, present, and future? Can you be judged guilty?"


"Isn't that amazing? God took your eternal judgment on the cross. That was Him in your place. What is left for you?"

'Just to trust Him.'

"Yes. When you see this in your heart, when you believe this, how does it make your heart feel?"

'Very thankful. Appreciative.'

"And when you feel that towards Him, what happens to your behavior?"

'It gets better.'

"Yes. When we TRULY BELIEVE, God gives us a new heart. Then, we do follow Him and live for Him, but we never TRUST THAT, only what He did for us on the cross. Now, do you know who gets the perfect coat?"

He was stumped here.

"Well, who got the bad coat?"

'He did.'

"So, you know who gets the perfect coat?"

'Me and all who trust.'

"Isn't that amazing! He wore your sinful coat and gave you the perfect coat. That is a whole lot of love. So to summarize you had two problems and Christ solved both of them. Number one: You broke the commandments and what did you deserve?" (Point down.)


"Number two: You didn't keep the commandments, and where couldn't you go?" (Point up.)


"When you broke the commandments, who wore your coat and took your Hell?"


"When you didn't keep the commandments, who kept the commandments for you? Who was perfect for you? Who gave you the perfect coat?"


"What did you have to do with any of that?"


"Yes. Just give up and fall upon Him. Rest in Him... just trust. He's done it all. Let's review the colors on the bracelet. Gold is Heaven. Dark is sin. We've broken all the commandments. We're not good. The punishment we deserve is Hell. The red...God took our punishment for us on the cross. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. He took the wrath and judgment. Three days later He rose. That is the receipt...Paid in Full...I love you...Only trust Me. The green is grow. Fall in love with God. Read your bible. Do you have a bible?"


"Go to church. Do you have a church?"


"Pray. Live for Him. Yes, follow Him, but never trust in THAT, only trust Him. What I have shared with you today is the Gospel. It is not a church or a denomination. It's the core message of the bible. The Gospel tells us to trust in Christ alone: 1) His person...He is God. 2) His work...not yours. Any questions? Anything you want to share?"

'What is your ministry?'

I shared with Evan who we are and what we do. Then he told me...

'Thank you. That really helped me.' (He seemed genuinely touched and very sincere in all of his responses.)

"Let me pray for you. (I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed for him.) Anything you want to tell the Lord?"

'Thank you for taking my sinful coat and giving me the perfect coat so I could go to Heaven. Amen.'

I then very gently asked if I could send him an email or text with five videos that would really help to solidify his faith. He really was eager to receive them!


Soli Deo Gloria.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support.