Lessons Learned From Our Iowa Trip

Emily and I had a wonderful trip to Iowa, and we thought it would be nice to share with you some of the things we learned while we were gone. We are so thankful to the elders, and all of you, for allowing us to be away to work with the Heartland church of Christ and conduct the gospel meeting. We were amazed to be in an area like Dubuque where there was not a single well-established congregation of the Lord’s church anywhere to be found. All of us are used to finding a congregation of the church of Christ in just about every town you travel to in the south. Mike Demory told us that the nearest congregation was an hour and a half away. There is one small group that meets in a family’s home in neighboring Wisconsin, but that’s about it. Congregations of the Lord’s church send millions of dollars each year overseas to establish congregations, and it’s a real eye opener when you see such large areas of our own country that have no access to the truth of the gospel. Mike and Teresa Demory, and the members of the Dubuque congregation, work diligently to preach and teach the truth to that area of Iowa, and it was a true blessing to have the opportunity to work with them. The theme of the gospel meeting was “From Heaven or from Man”, and it went very well. We had one response where a lady stated she decided to work and worship with the congregation. We also had time to tape two episodes of Mike’s public cable television program “The Bible Says” and they will air in the upcoming month. Our trip to Iowa was an educational experience for us, and I would like to share a few things we learned while we were there.
1. We have a great deal of work to do to fulfill the great commission. Christians have been charged by Jesus to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). We learned from our trip that there is much work to be done. We often work so hard to ensure the word is taken to places everywhere else around the world, but fail to realize that there are many places in our own nation that do not have full access to the truth. The people of Iowa have the Bible, but they also need a congregation of New Testament Christians with whom to work and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. I couldn’t help but think while we were there how many other areas of our own nation are in the same dire spiritual situation.
2. We do not have to be part of a large congregation to do great work for the Lord. The Heartland church of Christ has only ten members, but they work as hard as any congregation I have ever seen. We live in a society obsessed with numbers. People these days tend to think the bigger the better, and that it’s only the large congregations with big numbers that work and worship effectively. Sometimes we forget that Christianity had its beginning with only the Lord and His twelve disciples. From that meager beginning, Christianity rapidly grew into the world’s largest religion. The Heartland church of Christ may not have a big building or large numbers, but they stand as a beacon of truth in an area that desperately needs it.
3. We should never let discouragement stop us from doing the Lord’s work. I kept thinking how discouraging it must be for them as they continue to struggle to grow. Those feelings were repeatedly put aside each time I saw their zeal and diligent spirit. They inspired me, and stood as an example of how we can overcome discouragement if we put our faith in the Lord. May God bless them and their work in the future. -Ed