By Jon Hansen, District Representative, Mountain Central
Debbie and I recently reached seven years in the District Representative role. The time has gone by so fast! As we remember all that has transpired in rural ministry in our district we can see how the Lord worked in the lives of Village Missionaries and the rural churches they serve. We find ourselves looking back while moving forward in rural ministry.
Seven new churches requested Village Missions leadership in our district in seven years. Each one of these new fields possess a culture of their own and needed a Village Missionary that would fit into their culture.
Arcadia lies along the Middle Loup River in central Nebraska. The church had been without a pastor for awhile. They heard about Village Missions from our field at Scotia, Nebraska, 22 miles down the road. This dear group of believers desired to keep their doors open and reach their community for Christ. After a short wait, Ray and Carla Berry were assigned to this field. Ray and Carla came with many years of ministry experience and knew how to reach out to the community. After six years, they have a lot of ministry happening outside the church doors. The church has made a great impact in its community and prays for the Lord to bring in the harvest.
Encampment sits near the Wyoming and Colorado border between beautiful mountain ranges. The church contact was made after a gal who attended the church came to Frontier School of the Bible to attend classes. She heard about Village Missions when I shared about our rural ministry during chapel. She took my contact information and several months later we found ourselves on our way to make a presentation about Village Missions. After the church requested leadership, a couple applied to be missionaries; the husbands’s father had been a Village Missionary. They attended Bible college years before, raised their family, and were now ready to be placed on a field. In January of 2012 Tim and Debbie Easterling arrived in Encampment. The congregation was in the middle of constructing the church building. Tim, with many years of experience in construction, jumped right in to help complete the beautiful building they have today. Tim and Debbie have found many opportunities to present the gospel to the community through preaching and music.
Deer Trail requested leadership from Village Missions in 2014 after visiting with us for over two years. They heard about Village Missions from a member of their church; he was a truck driver who happened to stumble across a Village Missions field at Lenwood, California. The church in Deer Trail had a pastor who traveled over an hour to preach each Sunday. They had not had a pastor in town for over 12 years. After much prayer by the church, they asked for a missionary. Sam and Mary Courts arrived in August of 2014. Sam and Mary had many years of ministry experience and gave this small group of believers and the community a pastor. Under Sam and Mary’s leadership, the church and community grew. This body of believers came alive!
Leoti sought leadership in the spring of 2015. This church heard about Village Missions through a former retired pastor who attended the last night at our district mini conference. This man served as a pastor for over 50 years and wanted to see this church thrive.
Interior heard about Village Missions from another missionary organization that knew we served rural churches. We made several visits over a two-year period of time to meet with the folks at Interior Community Church before they requested leadership from Village Missions. This church started as a Bible study. After several years they started a church on their own with a pastor who only came out to preach from a bigger city once or twice a month. The community of Interior had not had a pastor that had lived in the community for 50 years.
In September 2015, two days before their new missionary moved in, their new parsonage arrived. Nathan and Ann Mudd had just completed a one year internship at Kettle Falls, Washington, and were ready to be placed in the Badlands of South Dakota. Nathan’s ranching background fit well into this ranching community. The church and community finally had a full-time pastor. The ministry at Interior has taken off in the past several years. We look forward to what the Lord will do in the future.
Murdo learned about Village Missions because of the new pastor at Interior, South Dakota. The Community Bible Church was having a hard time finding a pastor who wanted to live in rural South Dakota. In May, 2017, Shane and Lacy Campbell had just completed a one-year internship and were assigned to Murdo. They have been very active in both the church and community. Their family had prayed for some specific things at their new field and the Lord answered each of those requests. We are excited to see what the Lord will do in both the church and community.
Our newest field, Wetmore, waits for leadership. Wetmore heard about Village Missions through others who knew about Village Missions. Wetmore sits at the base of the Wet mountain range in southern Colorado near Westcliffe, CO. They have not had a pastor who has stayed long, so there is a lot of opportunity both in the church and this rural community. We look forward to their new missionary arriving in the near future.
Looking Back, Moving Forward in Rural Ministry
As we look back, each field was ordained by the Lord. We didn’t seek any of them out and sometimes we weren’t sure if they would even request leadership, but God knew and He brought them across our path. He also provided the right couple in each of these fields that could engage in the culture of their new community and were prepared to serve there.
Moving forward in rural ministry, we are praying that the Lord will bring the rural churches that he wants to join in partnership with Village Missions. Please pray for the missionary pastors who will answer the call to rural church ministry. “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”