J. Otis Yoder was born the seventh child of Levi and Mary Ellen Yoder, homesteaders in southeast Colorado in 1914. In his second year, he became very ill; his godly parents dedicated him to the Lord in prayer, and the Lord healed him. The following year, the Yoder family moved to Midland, Michigan, where Otis grew up in a growing church community. Here he was baptized and later ordained into the ministry at twenty-three years old. He did not take this call of the Lord lightly.
In his high school years at Eastern Mennonite School, he developed an evangelical witness. There he met another diligent Bible student committed to serving the Lord. This friendship, by the will of God, lasted sixty-five years. In 1965, J. Otis and Isabelle King, daughter of Abe and Alice King, were married. The Lord blessed them with a son and a daughter: John Otis II and Constance. Five grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren came as blessings from the Lord.
J. Otis, in his careful Bible study, pursued the Bible languages, Hebrew and Greek. He studied at Eastern Mennonite College (now University), Goshen College, Faith Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Seminary, where he earned his Doctor of Theology degree in 1954. The synonyms of the New Testament compared to their use in the Septuagint was his thesis study. This greatly enriched his ministry. He taught at Eastern Mennonite for fifteen years with Greek his priority. His first sabbatical year was spent studying and teaching in Jerusalem, along with travel in Bible lands.
In1967, the Lord called J. Otis to leave the classroom for a wider ministry. In answer to this call, he founded HERALDS OF HOPE, INC., an organization committed to taking all the WORD to all the WORLD. The next year, HERALDS OF HOPE, INC. launched the 30-minute radio program, THE VOICE OF HOPE. Five years later, in answer to an invitation from Trans World Radio to begin international broadcasting, a second program, HOPE FOR TODAY, began. Arabic was the first translation and has expanded to 16+ other major languages.
J. Otis answered God’s final call in July 2003. For the glory of Jesus, the ministry continues under the leadership of J. Mark Horst, who is likewise committed to the Word and the mission. The message of HOPE circles the globe, reaching much of North America, and, in cooperation with TWR, the nations of the world.