Carole and I particularly enjoy visiting the missionaries and churches served by Village Missions. We observe how God is using Village Missions and the dedication of those who serve with us. We were able to visit several fields on our recent trip to Balsam, MN, to be the speaker for the mini-conference. We visited so many fields that I only have space to highlight each visit briefly. I’ve included links to pictures and a travelogue of each field. Enjoy!
Our first visit was to Hokah, MN to visit Dave and Kathy Possing who have served there for thirteen years. We flew in to Chicago, arriving early Thursday morning, spent the night, and arrived in Hokah in time for dinner. What a treat to have retired missionaries Don and Marylee Still join us! Don and Marylee drive 1½ hours to attend their church. Don and Marylee served near us in Iowa, and then became our District Representatives for a short time before we moved to Colorado. Don also helped me transition into the position of Executive Director. It was great to see them again.
After dinner, the Possings took us on a walk over to their church. Their church is the only evangelical witness in their community of about 800 people. In the Summer 2011 issue of Country Matters, you’ll read the story of a young couple that came to Dave, asking him to marry them. Neither one had ever opened a Bible, nor did they have any spiritual background whatsoever but they will now hear what God has to say about marriage and salvation from His Word! Coming from a Roman Catholic background themselves, the Possings are uniquely suited to reach the people of Hokah, who are predominantly Catholic.
Dave and Kathy took us for another walk in the morning to see more of the town. Just before we were to leave, I locked the keys in the trunk of my car. Fortunately, they live next door to a gas station and the guys at the station had us on our way in about an hour.
The next stop was Elk Mound, WI, served by Dale and Suzy Bussinger. After a delicious lunch, Dale and Suzy took us on a tour of Elk Mound and then over to Amy Chapel, which is located a few miles outside of town. Two years ago, the congregation dedicated their beautiful new building. The contrast between the old building and the new one is just amazing. You can hardly see any homes from the church but people are coming from all over to be part of this vibrant congregation.
Leaving Elk Mound (this sounds like a travel magazine), we traveled past Minneapolis to our new field in Glendorado, MN, served by Paul and Denise DeVall. Located on a gravel road, almost literally in a cornfield, the church has never had a full-time pastor. The church rented a wonderful farmhouse for the Devalls and their boys. They are hard at work, seeking to reach the area for Christ. It was a joy to take the family out for pizza in St. Cloud, where we spent the night.
Saturday we traveled north to Sebeka, MN to visit Dave and Valerie Wing. Blowers Chapel is another church almost literally located in a cornfield, or in their case, a cattle pasture. Yet it is obvious from how the Wings described their ministry and the facilities, that God is doing a great work here as well. Sunday mornings the church is filled with young people.
Saturday evening found us in Balsam, MN, location of the mini-conference. Balsam Bible Chapel has also built a new building. The people were so gracious in hosting us and ministering to us during the conference. I had the privilege of speaking Sunday morning as well as being the speaker for the mini-conference. One highlight for me out of many was being taken fishing by Loren, a church member, and catching a decent Northern Pike.
After the conference was over on Thursday, we drove to Land O’Lakes, WI where I would be speaking the next Sunday, passing by the church we serve in Watersmeet, MI, served by Skip and Venita Pullen. Frank and Lynn Puffer, who have been there six years, serve Land O’Lakes. The church is located on several beautiful acres and ministers to what is largely a resort community. Among many other things, Frank ministers to about 16 men who gather early each Saturday morning.
Saturday we were able to take a day trip up to Calumet, MI, served by Merle and Gyngr McGee. We have served this field for three years, when we assigned the McGees to their first field. I was surprised at how large this community is. Yet we learned that the little church we serve is the only evangelical witness in the community. Calumet was once a prosperous city due to the copper mines but now struggles to survive. We arrived during the “Pasty Days” celebration. A “Pasty” is a pastry with a beef and vegetable filling originally used by the miners for their meals in the mines. They are delicious!
Several common themes surfaced as we visited these fields. First were the deep and sometimes disturbing needs of the communities. Merle McGee told us that the local bar offers a free drink to anyone willing to surrender his or her thirty-day sobriety pin! Second was the dedication of our missionaries and their families. The DeValls told me a story of their son Alex leading a classmate to Christ. I was awed by the hard work and passion exhibited by each missionary we visited. Third were the tremendous things God was doing in the most unlikely places. In struggling communities, as well as cornfields, in new fields as well as old, I heard story after story of changed lives. I personally witnessed two dynamic and alive congregations at Balsam and Land O’Lakes. We would have found the same thing at the other churches if we had been there on a Sunday morning.
Carole and I came away from this trip excited! God is powerfully at work through Village Missions and we had the privilege of seeing this work first hand!