Advance Magazine
Summer 2024

Not Alone in This Ministry

In the summer of 2013, I returned to First Baptist Church of Creston, Iowa, after a six-week mission trip in Romania. After a short time of prayer and consideration, I approached my pastor, Dave Tebbenkamp, and explained to him that I believed God might be calling me to serve full-time with the Baptist Mid-Missions team in Romania. The team ministered to a marginalized people group called Roma. A church plant had already been established, and the team was in the process of putting up a church building when I took my first mission trip. Pastor Tebbenkamp immediately began taking steps to make my journey into full-time ministry as smooth and church-oriented as possible.

One of the first things that he and the assistant pastor, Dan Fields, put together was an internship at my local church. This internship was part-time and included many hours of reading books on ministry and writing short papers to affirm my understanding. Another aspect of the internship was direct preparation for joining Baptist Mid-Missions and raising support. As I began to contact other churches, my pastors helped me make personal connections with pastors and encouraged me to go to various conferences where I would make more connections.

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Pastor Fields led a youth mission trip to Romania to see the ministry where I would soon be serving. During this time, church members also participated in my deputation by editing my written materials and designing my prayer card, display table, and website graphics. Some church members allowed me to come alongside them in their ministries and learn from their years of experience. Others participated by recommending me to their connections in other churches.

One of the key ways First Baptist Church chose to affirm God’s call in my life was through the church’s commitment to meet up to 50 percent of my support needs. As I began to raise support, my sending church matched what was given by other churches incrementally. This strategy accelerated the support-raising process, allowing me to reach the field in March 2016. It also reduced the number of churches needed as financial partners in the ministry. Many missionaries are not able to see every supporting church in a single furlough. However, I am able to easily visit every church during every furlough. This has afforded me the opportunity to spend more time with each of those churches, getting to know individuals in a better way because my time is not spread as thin. I spend more time at my sending church strengthening relationships and connecting with my family and friends who continue to encourage and support the ministry in Romania.

Even after my eight years on the field, First Baptist Church continues to be deeply invested and involved in this ministry. I receive consistent notes of encouragement from church members of all ages. Several church members are willing to help me grow in my ministry skills and provide materials and resources for the Roma ministry. Pastor Tebbenkamp led an adult mission trip to Romania in 2019. This trip helped many of the people who had encouraged and supported the ministry to see firsthand the fruits of their prayers and investments of their resources. The church has also chosen to support other members of BMM’s Team Romania.

This profound commitment to the ministry and to the Roma people we serve creates a sense of solidarity and fellowship with my home church that constantly reminds our team of missionaries that we are not alone in this ministry. The members of First Baptist Church truly love the Roma people and want to see them come to Christ just as much as we do. Over the past 10 years, they have continued to faithfully demonstrate this love through their words and actions. I am personally overwhelmed with gratitude when I consider the kindness and encouragement that I have been shown through the years, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to express my appreciation in this article.

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