What does it take on our part to advance the cause of Christ in rural North America? How can we succeed in the challenging, yet essential, call of God to make sure that every country community in the United States and Canada has a vibrant church committed to reaching people with the good news of Jesus Christ?
At the close of Paul’s great letter to the Romans, he sends greetings to, by my count, twenty-six people by name as well as several other household members and at least one church. Some are familiar to us such as Priscilla and Aquila, who Paul describes as “fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life . . .” We learn little tidbits about some, such as Mary, “who labored much for us.” Others like Phlegon are simply sent a greeting. We don’t know how Paul knows them. Together they form a wonderful network of individual believers, families, and vibrant churches advancing God’s Kingdom in Rome.
I have been Executive Director of Village Missions for nine years now. The greatest privilege of this position, besides simply serving God, is learning of the wonderful network of individual believers, families, and vibrant churches that advance God’s Kingdom through Village Missions.
I think of the dedicated Village Missionaries who pour their lives into a rural community in order to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I write this, on my second monitor is Jeremiah Knoop’s web page. Jeremiah, son of Village Missionaries Frank and Lynette Knoop, and his wife Elizabeth serve in a new field in Scotia, NE. He writes about his first baby dedication with humor but also with obvious dedication to the glory of God. You can read Jeremiah’s blog about his first baby dedication by clicking on this link. What a joy to know that God has led such a couple to serve with Village Missions.
I think also of Gary Horton, who serves our Canadian field in Weston, Nova Scotia. He told me the other day on the phone that he was “nailed straight,” a Maine expression that means extremely busy. He was “nailed straight” because the Lord had given him the privilege of leading several to the Lord. Here is his report of the opportunities he has had:
Three weeks ago a missionary serving in Romania visited our church just before he was to return to his field. He stayed at a B&B owned by a couple that attends our church. Shortly after his return to Romania, he found that his Aunt Beatrice had had a stroke and was in the hospital here. He called the folks that he had stayed with and asked them if they would let me know so I could visit his Aunt. Kathy and I went to the hospital and found she was unable to talk but could understand when she was spoken to. I held her hand and asked if she could understand me. If she squeezed my hand that meant yes. If she did not squeeze my hand that would mean no. I then gave her the plan of salvation and asked if she understood. She squeezed my hand. I asked if she wanted to pray to ask for forgiveness and accept Christ. She squeezed my hand. After I prayed, I asked if she had prayed with me. She squeezed my hand for a long time. Meanwhile, another lady in the bed next to her was listening. She, too, was recovering from a stroke. When I asked her if she would like to receive Christ she said, “Yes.” so I was able to lead her to Christ, too. Five days later, the Lord took Beatrice home. I received a call from a lady that does not attend our church a few days ago. She attends another church some distance away but she heard me speak at a Christian Women’s Club meeting three years ago. She asked me if I would visit her niece. She has a 21-year-old daughter near death from anorexia and she felt the Lord wanted her to contact me about seeing this young lady. She was adamant that God wanted me to do this. I agreed to go to the hospital where she was receiving potassium because they were afraid she would have a heart attack. When I got there, her great aunt met us and went to get the young lady’s mother. They were very afraid that she would get agitated and have a heart attack but she agreed to see me. She knew nothing about the Bible or Jesus but after answering her questions for an hour, she prayed with me to receive Christ. Her mother had been sobbing the whole time I talked with her daughter and after we prayed, I asked her if she, too, would like to ask for forgiveness and be saved. She was shaking and crying as she sobbed, “Yes” and she prayed to receive the Lord, too. When we went out to the lobby, the aunt met us and we shared the wonderful news with her. When we left the hospital all three were weeping and holding one another in one of the most tender and loving moments!
How I thank God for the privilege of serving Village Missionaries!
Carole and I have also been privileged to meet several people who attend churches served by Village Missions. I think of the couple we met at Lake Tapps, WA, saved for less than a year, and recently baptized. You can view pictures of the Lake Tapps visit here. We could sense their desire to live for the Lord. On the other hand, we met a couple at New Gloucester, Arnie and Doris, who had been married for sixty-three years and were married by Miss Clark! Arnie, eighty-three years old, is enrolled in the Bible Institute being sponsored by the New Gloucester Bible Church! By the way, what a joy on that trip to meet the Maine missionaries and see the retirement homes! You can see pictures and read an account of my visit to Maine here.
I have also talked on the phone and have visited several people who give to Village Missions. I continue to be impressed by their sacrificial giving and their interest in Village Missions. We regularly receive reports in the office of new people who have been led to donate to Village Missions. Often our donors will send in a note of encouragement telling us something of their situation, sharing a Scripture verse or two, and assuring us of their prayers on our behalf. A young boy named Andrew sent in $29.10 with this note:
This is my tithe from my 4H goat. I would like you to use it where you need it the most. Thank you.
What a blessing to me to learn how God is at work in a young man’s heart!
Then there are the District Representatives, staff in the office, and, of course, our board members. All working and praying to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Together they seek to develop spiritually vital churches in rural North America. How thankful I am for the privilege of seeing first-hand His work!
May we all be “nailed straight,” focused and working hard by God’s grace to keep country churches alive!