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Don and Fran Stoffel have made a huge contribution to caring for the fatherless by doing what they enjoy doing over and over again. Don and Fran, from Marilla, NY, are both retired and have invested much of their retirement years’ time and energy in serving the Lord in partnership with Bethesda Outreach. Their love for orphaned and vulnerable children along with their commitment to serving with their passions, experience and resources in this season of their lives is an incredible model for others to follow.

Don, who now serves on our Bethesda Board, and Fran, have traveled to Bethesda 9 times in the  past 8 years to work with the staff and families in various ways. They typically stay about 2 months and help with anything from building facilities and repairing vehicles to teaching the children special skills. It would be hard to describe the many ways they are an encouragement to the children, families and staff when they visit.

They don’t stop when they get home either! They have led an annual garage sale for 6 years with the proceeds donated to Bethesda Outreach. Don describes how the sale began:

The Bethesda sale started several years ago as a two day event in our yard, selling off some of our unneeded things. Since then it has grown because God provided us with a large garage that we are able to use for free during the late spring and summer so we can start collecting items in late April. Then we have sales in June, July, August and September.

 Fran describes the growing impact of the garage sale effort:

When our family, friends and church family began seeing our initiative and hope to help Bethesda, they also wanted to be a part of such a journey. Our Bethesda garage sale has been a joy and extremely exciting. We have met so many people who have graciously donated, helped, supported, baked and prayed. During the sale, many stop by to visit, ask questions, return and ask more questions on why we do what God placed in front of us. What a privilege it has been to have met an array of fascinating people who now look forward to our annual sale. The stories and faces are precious, just as our South African family at Bethesda.Bethesda 2015 022 (8)

 The garage sale funds each year are used primarily to send Bethesda Children to a Christian camp outside of Johannesburg during summer break. Thank God with us for Don and Fran – God is using them in an incredible way through their giving of their time and talents in creative ways.

Have some questions? Would you like to connect with the Stoffel’s to find out more about serving the Lord in orphan care? Let us know at They would love to share their experience, give a few bits of advice and tell a few stories . . . especially if it would help vulnerable children learn about God’s great love found in Jesus Christ.