LEWISTOWN - It only took one trip to Russia to change George Mohler's life completely.
During that trip in January 1993, Mohler, who is a member of Allensville Mennonite Church, said he spent two weeks visiting orphanages and boarding schools, experiencing first hand the stresses children were coping with.
"I was an orphan at one time myself," he said, adding that, "We have so much here ... "
George Mohler, of Allensville Mennonite Church, stands with carpentry tools in his right hand and a Bible in his left hand. He is set to leave with a group of five men on Aug. 8 for Stolsky, Russia, to build a church for the town. Mohler said to reach people for Christ, you must show them love and care first, then God’s word.
So he made multiple trips back to the country, delivering suitcases full of supplies from the U.S. for those in need.
Since 1993, Mohler has made 12 trips to Russia and 13 trips to Balarus, in eastern Europe. During his last trip, Mohler said he met a pastor in a small town who serves five villages. When the pastor found out Mohler was a retired contractor, he requested that he build a church in one of the villages.
"The Lord just laid it on my heart to do that," Mohler said.
One old dance hall and two planning trips later, the project was set into action. Mohler said he organized a group of men and two teenage girls to travel with him to build the church. It took two weeks to complete, and Mohler stayed a week longer to add a balcony.
"It was a fabulous time," he said, recalling trips to the market and big dinners in the evenings after church.
This summer, Mohler is ready for another mission to build a second church and spread Christ's love to a town called Stolsky, about 60 miles west of the first church. Mohler said he will be traveling with a group of five men from Allensville Mennonite Church. They are scheduled to leave Aug. 8 for the 10-day mission. Stolsky is about the size of Reedsville, he said.
The biggest challenge to Russians is financial support, Mohler said. The value of Russian currency has decreased over time, and there are no local humanitarian agencies there like there are in the United States to help those in need, he said.
"They're so appreciative there of what you do," he said, because, "Over there, if you don't do it yourself, it don't get done."
For him, the mission will be "just another trip" to an area he has become as comfortable with as home. He said he travels by faith, staying in the homes of locals and eating with their families.
"Here is your chance to help me build this building and share the love of Christ in that area," Mohler said in a press release.
He said gifts of love or a check may be made out to the Allensville Mennonite Church and mailed to George K. Mohler, 196 S. Main St., Apartment 502, Lewistown, PA, 17044. Mohler can be reached at 250-1291 for more information.