earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Launguage Progress Present and Future

In the most recent update video we thanked you for your prayers for our progress in language learning. We know that some of the credit for our progress is due to all of you who have labored with us in prayer. So, thanks again…and congrats! [Read more →]

May 16, 2014   No Comments

Send-Off Meetings

Since plans for our transition from pre-field to field ministry have become settled, we have made efforts to schedule  meetings with as many of our current partners as possible. We have already given our final pre-field update to a few churches in Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Michigan. This past week we visited Lakewood Baptist Church in Delafield, WI, to catch up with each other and discuss what our partnership will consist of once we land in Africa.

In various ways we communicated to each other that we are both still learning how any of our supporting churches will be involved in our ministry beyond prayer and financial support. The precedent set in the NT is that Paul’s partners in the gospel did more than send him money; they were involved in his work, providing for his other needs, and bearing the burden of spreading the gospel together (e.g., Philippians 1:27-30; 2:25; 4:2-3). These send-off meetings serve to reinforce this commitment even though neither of us are entirely sure what this will look like until we’re about knee-deep in the work.

Lakewood is one of a few of our partnering churches which organizes a group to represent the Gass Family to the rest of the congregation. These groups are a tangible expression of the church’s commitment to “hold the ropes.” In our limited experience this seems to be an effective means of working together. If for no other reason, it has facilitated profitable communication between us and the people supporting us. The believers of Lakewood Baptist Church shared on multiple occasions their excitement for being a part of this ministry in Tanzania. I’m glad to say that this is a genuinely mutual excitement.

July 3, 2012   No Comments

Advice for Prospective Missionaries to Africa

Conrad Mbewe, pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, recently visited Allen Park for a luncheon and discussion with local pastors and seminary students. Pastor Mbewe’s church is involved in training and sending men to plant churches in several countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. We were glad to have the opportunity to pick his brain.

He was asked what advice he would give to anyone  interested in serving the Lord as a missionary in Africa. He gave two points: visit and listen.

1. Visit Africa. Since we can’t learn everything about a place through TV and the Internet, we’ll need to see it in person to understand what the real challenges and prospects are.

2. Listen to Aficans. Since we will never understand African culture as an insider, we Americans are not the best authority on what a Christlike believer looks like in Africa. Fruitful ministry partnerships between Africans and Westerners must involve humble two-way conversations where the Scripture and the culture are carefully considered.

Good advice. In my opinion, these points would be just as helpful if extended to any mission field.

February 28, 2012   No Comments

Faith Baptist Church in Oconomowoc, WI

We have found that our personal meetings with pastors have been a generally positive experience for a few reasons. The meetings themselves have been a unique opportunity to hear about what God is doing among his people. Also, we are seeing that these initial meetings are usually focused on technical discussions about missions and philosophy of ministry, a good preparation for church presentations where the pastor can speak confidently regarding us and I can highlight the common ground between our work and the church we are presenting at. Our meeting with Faith Baptist Church in Oconomowoc on February 19 was one that came about and was benefited by an earlier meeting with the church’s pastor. I gave my presentation, took a few questions, and preached for their evening service. Then, we joined the congregation for a fellowship meal following the service. Being at this church also provided the opportunity to catch up with college friends–a small often overlooked perk of pre-field ministry!

We have a full week ahead of us. We return to Detroit today, February 20. I will have a pastors meeting, house work, and research to keep me occupied. Laura’s baby shower at Inter-City Baptist Church is Thursday evening. We will then be attending the church’s couples retreat and leaving from there to spend a day with Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in Cincinnati, OH, for a ministry presentation and fellowship.

February 20, 2012   1 Comment

A Wonderful Reunion with Fellow Believers

We headed back to Delafield, WI for the weekend of January 15 to spend time with Lakewood Baptist Church, one of our newest partners. We presented our ministry to there back in June, so they invited us to come and worship with them and to meet many new friends that we had missed or who were not currently attending LBC in the summer. Matt and I had a wonderful time fellowshipping with the people of Lakewood during several opportunities for interaction. We also participated in their “Missions Sunday,” along with their other missionary family Josh and Rachel Roberts. We were greatly encouraged by the interest and knowledge that the people of Lakewood showed us in what God is calling us to do in Africa. We also appreciated their sincere desire to be godly ministry partners with us. Matt and I were asked how they as a church can help and support the ministry in Tanzania, and to us personally as we minister there.

January 26, 2012   No Comments

MACP 2011: “Church Planting and Renewal”

The 2011 Mid-America Conference on Preaching was held on October 20 and 21 at Inter-City Baptist Church. I had the privilege of helping make the event an encouraging one for the pastors, students, and other guests in attendance. The theme for this year’s conference was “Church Planting and Renewal.” In addition to our seminary and church staff, the conference featured a number of seminary alumni who are currently planting churches across the country.

What I was able to hear when I wasn’t running errands was excellent. What I didn’t hear at the conference I’ve started to take in by downloading the recordings posted here.

Dr. Doran’s last general session address considered the nature of and reasons for forming church partnerships engaged in church planting. In the last ten minutes or so of the message, Dr. Doran proposed that like-minded churches in southeast Michigan partner together for the work of planting churches in this area. This task of church planting (albeit outside of the USA) is the task I am working towards with the help of several like-minded churches. So, for anyone following our ministry, I’d say that his thoughts on gospel partnerships from Philippians are worth considering. Follow the link below to listen. Ben Edwards has also provided an extended outline of the message at Missions Mandate.

MACP 2011 General Session 4 by David Doran

November 3, 2011   No Comments

Our Trip to the Twin Cities

We returned this week from a trip to the twin cities of Minnesota. On August 7 we shared our ministry with the people at Grace Community Bible Church in Lakeville. I spoke during their Christian Education hour on Sunday, preached for the mid-week service, and met with a number of families during our stay from Sunday through Wednesday night. They are a growing young church filled with bright and gifted believers. Despite the diverse background among the people there, I was impressed by how theologically astute they are. I found myself regularly engaged in discussions about philosophy of missions and theology during our visits–and glad to find so much agreement between us! So, we are excited that they are considering partnering with us as the first missionaries they will be supporting.

Our car was packed to the brim on this trip. In addition to the personal gear and presentation materials, we also brought along stuff for camping. Lighthouse Baptist Church in Cottage Grove invited us to the state fellowship family camp being hosted at their church. Attending the camp involved pitching our little 2-person tent on their beautiful property (and sharing the bathrooms in the church building!). The congregational singing was refreshing and we appreciated the opportunity to meet new people.

On Sunday, August 14, we joined Liberty Baptist Church in Eden Prairie for their worship services. I presented the ministry in their evening service and met with their deacons shortly afterwards. We had the privilege of staying with Pastor Don Odens and his wife for a couple of nights. Our fellowship with them is one example of blessings that pre-field ministry provides us. We are grateful for these opportunities to glean from the wisdom of such godly couples.

August 18, 2011   No Comments

“Is it Fun??”

Last Sunday, Aug 7, we shared our ministry with Grace Community Bible Church in Lakeville, MN, during their Christian Education Hour. One thing that impressed me during our time with this church was their talent for asking insightful questions. On Sunday morning we spent a good 15 minutes in Q&A. There were questions about us, African traditional religion, neglected parts of Africa, challenges in ministry, prayer support, accountability, training missionaries, and so on. It’s clear to me that this body of believers is very Berean in their approach to missions. But then I was caught off guard by a question from a young man who asked, “Is it fun??”

Speaking to a group with a broad range of ages is always challenging. How do you communicate with everyone effectively? In retrospect, I probably should have answered simply with a “Yes!” But since there were also a number of adults in the room with active analytical skills, I felt the need to qualify my answer. The fact is that taking the gospel to places far away from “home” will certainly have many less-than-fun moments. I realize that there are many unknown challenges waiting for us, but we still believe that the overwhelming response to what God is leading us to do is joy. As I shared with the people at Grace Community, if it ever fails to be joyful, it’s probably the result of our failure to train our focus on God and the sufficiency of his grace.

In spite of my round-a-bout answer, I really appreciated the question. Thanks!

August 13, 2011   No Comments

Meetings in New England (and Long Island)

We made our first trip to New England for pre-field ministry from July 7 through the 18th. I was particularly excited that Calvary Baptist Church in Windsor Locks, CT, was able to have us in to share the ministry with them and spend time in fellowship with a few of their families.  It’s probably an understatement to say that this church has been a great influence on me. It was the people there that God used as sounding boards during my college years while I was working through the decision to enter vocational ministry. These are also the people that patiently encouraged me as I cut my teeth on pulpit ministry. Needless to say, we enjoyed our time with Pastor Farley, his family, and the other families of this church. It is good to hear how God is working in your friends’ lives! As God would have it, Calvary Baptist has recently paid off a loan for a building project that began while I was a member there. This means that they will soon be considering partnering with their first missionary in a long time.

We also had the privilege of sharing our ministry with Colchester Bible Baptist Church. I have known of this church’s pastor, Mark Love for a few years, since his son and I were at college and seminary at roughly the same time, but this was the first time we’ve actually had the chance to talk. We quickly found that we have much in common when it comes to philosophy of missions. God blessed our time with them.

Between the two church meetings, we were able to schedule meetings with 3 pastors and a missions committee in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Long Island, New York. We introduced ourselves, answered questions about missions in Tanzania, ate some food, and learned a bit about these churches. Part of the reason for calling deputation “pre-field ministry” are these moments where we desire to edify the people we are visiting. I trust we could be of some encouragement to the faithful people we visited, for they certainly were to us!

July 26, 2011   No Comments

Kicking Off the Summer Schedule

Our summer travel schedule kicked off with a trip to Southeast Wisconsin on June 18-22. We enjoyed the opportunity to share the ministry with Lakewood Baptist Church in Delafield. Lakewood is a young, vibrant church. They haven’t yet partnered with any missionaries, so we are thrilled that they would consider us. The highlight of our time with them was the fellowship we enjoyed with church families over dinner and discussions about missions.

Breakfast with Pastor and Mrs. Marriott

During the weekdays on this trip we were able to meet with 7 pastors between Watertown, Beloit and Port Washington. Following a friend’s recommendation, we are scheduling meetings with pastors so that we may be introduced to them before they consider inviting us into their church to present the ministry. We’ve found that this has been helpful in situations where the pastor is less familiar with us and/or our sending church. 7 daytime meetings in 3 days kept us on the go, but all is well!

July 24, 2011   No Comments