The year 2018 has come to an end, and the year 2019 has begun. So also it is with some of the mission work done in 2018 and work now begun in 2019. The calling of the missionary is to “work to develop a field of labor and then preach and teach on any field that the Spirit gives through that work.” My wife and I were in St. Petersburg, Florida for three weeks at the end of March and the beginning of April. It was a group of folks from many different Christian backgrounds and expectations of what church and worship ought to be. We can expect that in missions. It is what missions is all about, giving biblical instruction. On Easter Sunday, we were joined in our worship by several families from our churches who were on vacation that week in Florida. Members of the fellowship were delighted at the many visitors, and surprised that these families were willing to drive for two hours to attend the worship service. What a nice testimony to the group of what Sabbath observance means to us!
We returned there again in late June. By this time many of the members of the fellowship had left in order to join a charismatic church nearby. The fellowship was reduced to one married man and his three sons. There were serious challenges to doctrines that we in the PRC hold dear and there was not a desire to reach out and do evangelism in the neighborhood. There were not sufficient contacts to consider St. Petersburg as a possible church plant.
I was able to work with several evangelism committees of our churches in regard to how to set up Bible studies in their outlying areas, attending and at times filling in as a leader. I continue to lead Byron Center PRC’s Bible study, begun before I was a missionary. Byron Center started one in Wayland, and about one year ago transferred the Bible study to the Dorr area, gaining many new members. Those who attend come from a variety of church backgrounds. It is a pleasure to see men and women faithfully come, eager to dig into the study of the Word. This group meets year around, no breaks! This, I believe, is important for consistency, rather than having to start up again each Fall. This group has been meeting for about three years. We began by going through the various sections of Reformed doctrine. Having finished that, we have now begun a study of the Gospel according to John.
At our Dorr Bible study in July, a contact suggested that I help fill the pulpit of the New Hope Reformed Fellowship in Dorr. Meetings were held, and a request came to our DMC New Fields committee for me to preach twice a month in the second worship service. After various committees examined this request and gave approval, I began to lead these worship services the first Sunday of January 2019. An elder from Byron Center PRC is present to gauge interest and receptivity. What a privilege to share the rich Reformed heritage that has been given to us as churches!
I am also presently following up on two contacts that came to two of our churches requesting a church plant in their area. There were communications via email and the distribution of our literature. We are thankful for such literature; for it causes people to examine the Scriptures as did the saints in Berea of old. Visits were made to each of those contacts, and we wait to see if this is where the Lord is opening up a field for us in which to labor. Again, I encourage our churches to send me contacts that they have whom they wish me to follow up on.
Working with those whose knowledge of Scripture is limited demands that we produce tracts that are easy to understand, with plenty of Bible texts to support it. Therefore, I have written nine tracts with the theme “Who is Jesus?” These are based on the Gospel of John, including the seven “I am” statements of Jesus. These are being proofread and edited, and will soon be available for our churches and members to distribute to others.
I have enjoyed giving presentations in our churches in Wisconsin, the greater Chicago area, and in Singapore regarding the work of the home missionary, and the role of the church members in evangelism. I look forward to doing so in the future in other areas of our churches.
While in Singapore in January and February, I hope to be working with their evangelism committee, looking at what they have done in the past and what they are continuing to do now.
I continue to work with the DMC to develop a manual for doing home missions. This demands that we look at all pertinent synodical decisions, write up scriptural principles, and then practical applications as we do the work as missionary and denomination. This way, the “wheel” does not need to be “reinvented” each time there is a new missionary. I close with thanks for the many prayers that are uttered for our work in domestic missions.