Faith, family, farming. These are three words often heard in succinct session. Maybe it is because they are so closely related in their ideals of dedication and delight. So, a life filled with all three is doubtless an enriching life. But try adding onto faith the extension of music ministry, farming the extension of 600 acres in Iowa, and family the extension of 10 children, daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, and grandchildren. With that done, you have just described the life of The Bontrager Family Singers.
I had the privilege of interviewing 15-year-old Elizabeth Bontrager — number eight in the line of children. At two years old, singing with her family was already an integral part of her life. And five years later, she took on the task of learning the violin and piano. Beginning by ministering in music in nursing homes, the family now travels and sings for about five-six months out of the year all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. I hope you enjoy learning about Elizabeth and her life filled with faith, faith-filled music, family, and farming!
SC: How would someone describe you in three words?
EB: My mom’s three words to describe me are “artistic, friendly, pianist.”
SC: What is your favorite thing about traveling and singing gospel music? What is the hardest?
EB: I enjoy the friends I get to see and some of the places we get to go while on the road. I am also grateful that I get to spend that time singing, working and enjoying life with my favorite people: my family!
Being on the road has its challenges, but the Lord is always there to help us every step of the way! One thing that is hard about being gone is the people I don’t get to see, such as my three married siblings that don’t travel with us, my sweet niece, and our preacher’s family.
SC: Do you have any aspirations for a career outside of music, or do you see yourself continuing to minister in music in the future?
EB: I don’t see myself singing with a group other than my family, but I think it would be neat to have a piano and/or violin studio someday. My biggest dream though, is to be a godly and loving wife and mother!
SC: How have you seen God at work in your ministry?
EB: It is wonderful whenever someone comes to know Christ! But I also love when we are able to be an encouragement to someone or hear someone tell us that what was shared was “just what they needed!”
SC: What is your funniest memory on stage?
EB: This is just ONE OF the funny things our family experienced while on stage. When Hudson was about three, he was singing Amazing Grace. During the song, Hudson pointed outside and said “there is a mouse!” Of course that was quite funny!!!!:)
SC: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
EB: I enjoy hand lettering, decorating, and being artsy and creative. I also have fun cooking, playing piano, and doing fun activities with my siblings.
SC: If you could have the voice/talent of anyone else in gospel music, whose would you have?
EB: I would love to have the talent of Mrs. Collingsworth. She is amazing!! Piano and vocal.
SC: Looking back at your own life, what is one piece of advice you would give to the “next generation”?
EB: I would say to most importantly love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let Him be your greatest love and first priority. This is the greatest commandment! Also, so many young people don’t get along with their siblings and think they are a bother. But I would encourage them to look at their siblings and parents as wonderful gifts from Jesus, and to take the time to invest in those special relationships.
I am by no means perfect, though, and have may ways to grow in these areas!
SC: Tell us about you involvement in Bible Bee?
EB: Bible Bee is wonderful because I have the opportunity to memorize so many verses and study the Bible while learning discipline. I get to study the Word of God along with my younger siblings, which is a great opportunity!
SC: What is your favorite song and why?
EB: One of my favorite songs is King of Love. (I heard that the Gettys wrote it)
SC: Tell us something unique about you that not many people know?
EB: One unique thing about me is that I have about a dozen pen-pals! And I email a girl from New Zealand.
SC: Where is your favorite place to sing and why?
EB: For me, one of the highlights of our winter trip is the prison crusades. It is amazing to get to minister to the men and women in prison, whose lives, unless they have Jesus, are hopeless. It is so rare for them to see a family working together. Being able to see God work in the hearts of the prisoners is wonderful!
SC: Tell us about your family’s farm. Are there any jobs that you do?
EB: On our farm, we have cows, pigs, and cats. The boys are the ones who do most of the farm work, but every so often I will help feed the calves. Mostly though, I help out with gardening, cooking, and cleaning.
SC: What is it like having so many siblings?
EB: There isn’t one bad part about having a lot of siblings! I love them dearly and look forward to more wonderful times spent together, Lord willing! I enjoy having siblings to play games with and talk with.
To stay updated with The Bontrager Family Singers, go check out their website bontragerfamilysingers.com, or their blog, bontragersingers.blogspot.com.