Farmer overwhelmed by help losing machinery in suspicious fire


“From the depths of despair to a high mountaintop of blessings"-- that’s the how Central Nebraska farmer Jonathan Rempel described losing his harvest equipment in a suspicious fire and then seeing an army of friends and strangers arrive on Friday morning to bring in his crops.

“I cannot tell you the emotional swings that we have gone through. We are once again blessed beyond what we deserve,” Rempel said.

The lights of equipment shined a beacon of goodwill as they pulled into the Junction Speedway parking lot around 7:30 a.m.

Six combines, a dozen tractors towing auger wagons, a fleet of semis and 30 to 40 fellow farmers answered the call to help the fourth-generation producer.

“I want to thank you all for coming. It means more to me, my family, my operation, my people, than you will ever know. You are all my people now,” Rempel told the crowd.

On Oct. 15, Rempel awoke to a call from the Sutton Volunteer Fire Department.

His combine, tractor and two semis parked in a remote field were on fire.

$300,000 to $400,000 of equipment was still smoldering a week later as state fire investigators have yet to determine a cause.

Rempel had some Trump flags on the equipment.

But he said this day was not about speculation or even him. It is about good people doing good.

“This isn’t about anything other than there is somebody in need, and when people are in need, Americans rise to the occasion,” Rempel said.

Folks like Jeff Peters. He and two other friends helped organize the effort to get Rempel’s remaining 750 acres harvested.

“There have been people who have called and offered help all the way from North Dakota and Kansas. We kind of told them we should have enough local people, they don’t need to that much effort. But it’s pretty amazing people from far out are willing to reach out,” Peters said.

Cale Carlson, of Marquette, brought his semi.

“My heart went out to Jonathan and I just wanted to help any way I can,” Carlson said.

Rempel and his wife Abby are expecting their third child Nov. 6.

His sister, Leah, had to talk him into setting up a GoFundMe page.

“He did not want to do it,” Leah said.

“Jonathan said, ‘I usually help people, I never have to accept the help,’” Leah said.

News about Rempel’s story went viral.

So far, the GoFundMe page has collected $94,000 and prayers and words of encouragement from around the world, even some Biden supporters.

“I teach English and I don’t have the words to describe the feeling, the overwhelming love and support that we have had. It’s like getting a hug from the nation,” Leah said.

Jonathan Rempel said 99% of the population are good people, and Americans pull together when it counts.

“It just illustrates that people are good and God is good and we are blessed,” Rempel said.

A bank fund has also been set up at:

Heartland Bank c/o Rempel Equipment Benefit fund, 901 Q St., PO Box 69, Aurora, NE 68818.