Peter Hoover: Watchful Pilgrims

Watchful Pilgrims
March 10, 2010

Like his Mennonite neighbors and friends, Abraham Blosser kept dairy cows, a team of horses, a coop of laying hens and a few pigs at his farm three miles north of Bridgewater during the 1870s and 80s. But unlike many of his fellow believers in the Shenandoah Valley, Abraham Blosser’s thoughts did not revolve around his farm and livestock. Even though some thought him unusual or “off on a cloud somewhere” he showed no interest in talking about the hog price as soon as the Lord’s Day meeting let out.

Instead, Abraham Blosser put his thoughts in writing. He prayed much. Serious things came to mind, and the more he read and heard the more urgently he sensed his call from God to warn those around him of dangerous times ahead. In a little shed below his farm buildings, he set up a printshop. He engaged a young man from town, David Taylor, as his typesetter, and beginning in 1881 he published a little newspaper he called The Watchful Pilgrim. A paper he described, in the first issue, as “devoted to the interest of the Mennonite Church, to the exposition of Gospel Truth, and the promotion of practical piety among all classes.”

Abraham Blosser reprinted, and translated to English, a number of older writings he felt would benefit his neighbors in the valley. But he also wrote a large number of articles himself.

“The coming of the Son of Man,” Abraham wrote, “will be like lightning, suddenly and without warning. Like it was in the time of Noah, so will it be when he comes again. Right before the flood everything looked really good, a time of prosperity and worldly happiness. That is why nobody listened to Noah. The same thing happened before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people couldn’t believe destruction would fall upon them so quickly. And the same took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, even though many prophecies had been fulfilled and many had already lost their lives.”

With earnest words, Abraham Blosser warned us, the generations that follow him, not to go to sleep in our prosperity and ease. Not to get side-tracked by what isn’t important, so we may welcome Jesus when he comes. But his little book is far more than a warning. It ends on the joyful note of God’s promises to those that persist in doing good and overcome.

Nearly 120 years have passed since Abraham Blosser died and his writing, publishing work in the Shenandoah Valley came to an end. His grandchildren sold off the print shop equipment. No memory of his cows, his horses or his chickens—or any of his neighbors’ livestock—remains. Who knows, or cares, what people got for their pigs 120 years ago? But what Abraham Blosser lived for, and what he did, still speaks to us.

He lived for eternity, not for today. And in so doing he helped us live as watchful pilgrims in our time.


Rocky Cape Christian Community
19509 Bass Highway
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S-Secret-of-Strength-new.jpg The Secret Of The Strength
$9.95 The Secret Of The Strength
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Peter Hoover. “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you,” Christ told his followers. And a few fishermen, a tax collector, and a motley group of believers set out to change the world. In fact, they succeeded.

In 16th century Europe, the Anabaptists preaching in cities by night, on back streets, and in secret corners behind rail fences set out to do the very thing the apostles had done. They, too, turned the world of their day upside down. What was the secret of their strength? In this book, Hoover explains what gave the Anabaptists their incredible spiritual strength.

290 pp. Paper.