Patriot Turned Puppeteer
Former soldier Daniel Boll is now a children’s evangelist.While being whisked away in a medical helicopter, soaring thousands of feet over the war-torn country of Iraq, Daniel J. Boll had no idea that just a few years following his recovery, God would call him away from combat and into leading a much different kind of crusade.
Boll, 40, grew up in Pennsylvania, where he spent as much time in the pastor’s office as he did in Sunday School during his childhood. Although known as a troubled kid, when he started attending Evangel Heights in Sarver, Pennsylvania, his youth pastor began to mentor him and helped Boll realize his call to ministry.
After high school, Boll attended the University of Valley Forge, the Assemblies of God institute in Phoenixville where he met his wife. Mariah J. Boll, 41, a third-generation pastor’s daughter, studied youth ministry at the school and the two married.
Shortly after, Boll joined the Army National Guard and served from 2008-09 on a combat response team as a mechanic. While traveling with his 28th Infantry Division unit in Iraq, a pry bar struck him in the forehead, knocking him off a truck. He returned to the United States, struggling with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Although Boll sought counseling through a local Veterans Affairs (VA) center, he didn’t sense the treatment helping him cope with PTSD. His condition took a toll on his marriage and he knew there needed to be a change. Daniel and Mariah began attending Butler Assembly of God. It turned out that the pastor of the church, George P. Miller, formerly served as an Army chaplain.
As Miller began to mentor the young veteran, Boll’s psychologist from the VA began to notice drastic and rapid improvement in his condition. She asked Boll what changes he had made to evoke such progress. Boll unashamedly explained he got his relationship with Jesus right.
“I was suddenly doing better than everyone else she was seeing,” Boll says. “I had been transformed by the power of Christ.”
During that time of growth, the Bolls prayed about what assignment God had for them. Although Mariah served as youth pastor at Butler Assembly of God at the time, Boll sensed a childhood call to ministry once again. Both Daniel and Mariah kept hearing the word evangelist as they prayed, although they didn’t realize what that entailed.
In 2017, the couple launched Unique Kidz Ministry. Boll, a patriot turned puppeteer, travels alongside his wife and fellow AG evangelist, Mariah, and their two children. Payton, 15, and Logan, 11, both are actively involved in helping their parents during each event. The Bolls travel around the country preaching the Word of God and sharing the love of Jesus.
Pastor John C. Knudson and wife, Crystal, of LifeSpring Fellowship Assembly of God describe the Bolls and their ministry as having the incredible gift of “taking the deepest truths of Scripture and being able to cut them into bite-sized pieces so kids can understand them without compromising the magnitude of those truths.”
When the Knudsons met the Bolls, they immediately connected with them and their passion for bringing ministry to kids and the community outside the walls of the church in a new and unique way. During their first ministry event together, the Knudsons state that the Bolls had a three-night event planned in the park, but rain almost canceled it.
“Then these three little girls showed up, and Daniel and Mariah knew they had to go on, despite the rain, for those little girls,” says the 44-year-old Crystal, who is student ministries director at LifeSpring. As the Bolls began to share the gospel, people in apartment buildings which surrounded the park began to sit out on their decks and hear the good news preached.
“The seeds planted that night were more than we could have even hoped for,” Crystal says.
This summer, Unique Kidz Ministry is traveling to half a dozen states, putting on children’s outreaches lasting from three to five days and featuring interactive games, puppets, and illusions.
“Unique Kidz Ministry is committed to being 100% Bible based,” says Mariah. “We know all kids learn differently, but we want them to leave with at least one verse tucked away in their hearts. So we do a variety of multisensory activities to help that stick.”