The Frederick News-Post

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FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A privately owned signboard at Maple Homestead in Frederick shares a Christian message to passers-by and stands despite intolerance.

David Zimmerman, 76, and his wife, Naomi, put up messages of hope and Christian salvation.

Recently, the message on one side said Jesus Christ still has everything under control, and the other side urged people to depend on Jesus, not on the situation or the economy.

“It’s a little story behind that sign,” Zimmerman said in a telephone interview. The Zimmerman family farm on Jefferson Pike has shrunk over the generations, but Zimmerman still farms about 100 acres.

It was his father’s family tradition to put up a life-size nativity scene at Christmastime visible from Jefferson Pike. The
tradition goes on.

Zimmerman can’t remember whether it was 11 or 12 years ago, but a few days after the nativity scene was installed, it burned up.

The life-size religious figures and 80 bales of straw went up in flames, and the fire singed the roof of Zimmerman’s house, he said.

An investigation at the time indicated that the fire started from an electrical source, but Zimmerman said he didn’t rule out arson because other fires have been set in his outbuildings over the years.

It wasn’t possible to replace the figures immediately, so Zimmerman went to Hagerstown and bought the signboard to put up a Christmas message, he said.

Replacement figures for the annual nativity scene eventually arrived and still go up every year — a little farther away from his house now, he said.

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The signboard stays up all year, despite repeated vandalism.

“They’ve tried to destroy the sign,” Zimmerman said. “They’ve egged it. They threw rocks at it.”

The message on the sign depends on inspiration Zimmerman and his wife receive.

“The Lord has to speak to my wife or (me),” Zimmerman said. “We kind of work it out together.”

When inspiration strikes, Zimmerman has a grandson who helps put up the letters.

Zimmerman and his wife, married for 52 years, have long served the Frederick Church of the Brethren, leading education, ministering to the sick and helping with mission trips. Zimmerman has gone to help people recover from disasters in New Orleans–twice, and once to Tennessee and Minnesota.

He said their Christian faith has seen his family through many things. A son died in a swimming accident, and they have another son, two adopted daughters, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Working 100 acres doesn’t seem like much of a farm now, Zimmerman said, but it has corn, hay, soybeans and a few cattle.

“I try not to take it easy,” Zimmerman said.

He and Naomi take news predicting the end of the world in stride. He chuckled and said one of the messages they put up was, “In case of rapture, this farm will be unmanned.”

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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post,
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)