earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — October 2011

Missions Emphasis Meetings in WI and MN

Our last trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota was the longest period of consecutive meetings out of Michigan to date. We had the privilege of sharing our ministry with three churches, connect with a few new church contacts, and catch up with some new friends in these two states.

Missions Emphasis Month at First Baptist Church of Fond du Lac

We helped First Baptist Church kick off their Missions Emphasis Month. This church has an exciting history, recently having been without a pastor for several years. Pastor Witt was called to lead the church after filling the pulpit for them several times. The people were very receptive to the Sunday School lesson, ministry presentation, and sermon I shared with them over the course of the day.

From Fond du Lac, we headed west to Minneapolis, MN, to stay with college friends who happened to reconnect with us the night we shared our ministry at our sending church. They graciously offered to let us stay with them between meetings. That week, we were able to attend the mid-week service at Grace Community Bible Church in Lakeville (Wednesday) and our host’s church just northwest of the twin cities (Thursday). Both services provided opportunities to update people with the latest news from Tanzania and our pre-field ministry.

Missions Conference at Brookdale Baptist Church in Moorhead

From Minneapolis we traveled northwest to Moorhead, MN, to participate in a missions conference at Brookdale Baptist Church. They have been interested in meeting with us since they support our teammates, Dan and Jana Eads. It was a special privilege to be there with my pastor, who was invited to be the conference keynote speaker. There we also met Scott and Juli Fulks who are on their way to serve the Lord in Spain. Brookdale Baptist Church is revisiting their missions philosophy, using this conference as a means to shape their part in the great commission. In this regard, God seemed pleased to bless the preaching and presentations so that Dr. Doran, Scott, and I complemented one another.

Living Hope Church in Grantsburg

The Sunday following the conference in Moorhead, MN, we came back to northwest Wisconsin and shared our ministry with Living Hope Church in Grantsburg. After staying in a couple small cities and within the Minneapolis city limits earlier on this trip, it was refreshing to be back in the country. I preached in the morning worship service and we talked about the work in Tanzania during their Sunday School hour. God apparently blessed our time with the church as they responded with enthusiasm. We were glad to hear so soon after being with them that the church has decided to partner with us!

October 21, 2011   No Comments

An Interview with Laura

While on the road for our last trip, I took the opportunity to interview Laura on behalf of our blog readers. I hope it helps you get to know us and understand some of the pre-field ministry experience.

Matt: What is your role in pre-field ministry?

Laura: My role in pre-field ministry is to minister and encourage believers I meet in churches. I enjoy sharing our burden for Tanzania through conversations with new friends and in occasionally teaching children about missions. I believe that it is important for churches to meet our whole family, including Matt and me. I also help with some details, including setting up our display table, reminding Matt of “little” things, etc.

M: Name one thing that has been a blessing of pre-field ministry.

L: Meeting faithful believers has been a huge blessing to me; I have enjoyed building relationships with other Christians. I have been encouraged and challenged to meet faithful church members, pastors and their wives, who are continuing to honor God in their service to Him. Of course, I have also loved meeting children in the churches we go to. : )

M: Name one thing about traveling for pre-field ministry that you do not look forward to.

L: I tend to get motion sickness, so long hours in the car are often uncomfortable. Dramamine does help, though. : )

M: What is one thing that pre-field ministry is teaching you?

L: God is using pre-field ministry to challenge me to deny myself. Often, I may be tired, but have the opportunity to be a blessing in conversation with a new friend. Other times, especially when traveling, I am tempted to get discouraged because of the discomfort I feel. The Lord is reminding me that he has a ministry for me to be involved with, and it includes traveling for several hours in our car. But, He is worth it, so I am reminded to choose to put others before myself.

M: What do you do to pass the time in the car?

L: I listen to audio books (like the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis or Let the Nations be Glad! by John Piper) or music, talk with Matt, sleep, enjoy the scenery, help Matt in calling pastors, and, on occasion, drive.

M: What are some of your favorite places to stop on road trips?

L: Noodles and Co., Jamba Juice, Masala Jack’s restaurant (Chesterton, IN), and other places I can get healthy food

M: From your perspective, what makes a meeting with a church good?

L: I believe that good interaction with church people is essential in our pre-field ministry. I have enjoyed meeting Christians who are genuinely curious about Tanzania, and about our future ministry there. We have met many churches who are dedicated to a philosophy of missions that compliments our own, so connecting with believers who have the same burden for the gospel has been wonderful. I believe that a “good” meeting would also include Matt and I being used to build up churches by presenting our passion for the gospel and its furtherance among the nations.

M: What is one of the most frequent questions you are asked?

L: “Do you know much Swahili yet?” -to which I answer: “No, not much. We are intentionally waiting to start learning the language until we arrive in Tanzania, where we will be immersed in a culture that almost exclusively uses Swahili. This way we will be forced to learn the language, and perhaps not develop as many bad habits.”

I also spend a good deal of time talking to children about the animals that live in Tanzania. : ) I treasure the opportunity to spark an interest for missions in young hearts!

October 18, 2011   No Comments

October 2011 Prayer Update

We were given prayer so that we may actively participate in the advance of God’s will on Earth. Jesus said to his disciples, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). May we consider what we may set before the throne of grace so that God may be glorified.

Praises:
  1. Our coworker, Dan Eads, reports that the latest Bible Institute session in Tanzania went very well. The men gladly received the material and responded with positive feedback. Dan also mentions that the interaction throughout the teaching was constructive.
  2. We took a call this week from a pastor who wanted us to know that his church is about to vote on partnering with us. Their support will bring us up to 48% of our budgeted amount.
  3. By the end of this trip we will have put over 10,000 miles on our little car just for deputation travel. God has kept us safe and the car is still running well.
Requests:
  1. October is a popular month for missions conferences and the like. We’re involved in a few of these beginning this week at Brookdale Baptist Church in Moorhead, MN. These meetings are good opportunities to set aside an extended period of time to consider how we as churches and individual members ought to be involved in great commission work. Please pray that these meetings will challenge the people to be both wise and bold in their foreign and local outreach.
  2. I have a behind-the-scenes role in the Mid-America Conference on Preaching hosted at Inter-City Baptist Church, October 20-21. Please pray that all involved, but especially the speakers, would effectively encourage and equip the pastors who attend.
  3. We will be making the shift to full-time deputation in November. Since we are not yet receiving 50% of our support, our financial situation will be stretched for a time. Please pray for wisdom to manage the changes that this requires. There will be budget and health insurance changes just to name a couple.
  4. Please pray for the churches we are contacting. Thankfully, we’ve been introduced to so many faithful congregations who are taking the prospect of gospel partnerships very seriously. Pray that they would be wise stewards of their resources. Pray that their decisions would be guided by a mutual commitment and understanding of the task ahead of us.

October 7, 2011   No Comments