Greetings in the name of our wonderful Lord Jesus!
Today I sit in the GARBC national representative’s office in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Just outside that office are lithographs of Robert Ketcham, H. O. Van Gilder, Joe Stowell, and others. And I wonder, What am I doing here?
Yet I read 1 Peter 4:11 to remind myself of God’s grace: “If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (CSB).
Have you ever been intimidated into silence when the opportunity to witness for Christ was right in front of you?
Ever thought too little of yourself in the face of loud, strong antagonists to the gospel?
Is our North American culture too daunting in its march to political correctness, to the “right side of history,” to wokeness?
Can your church, no matter its size, make any difference?
Can we successfully make disciples, see adults come to Christ, experience the true maturation of followers of Christ?
Will the gates of Hell prevail against Christ’s promise and work in the building of His church?
What difference can one small guppy (Regular Baptist Ministries) make in the huge ocean of church ministries?
God has reminded me as I contemplate my smallness, my lack of sufficiency, that He has saved me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He has placed me and you where we are to speak His Word and to serve, and to do so by the strength that He supplies.
Through grace-filled service, one person, one church, one fellowship of churches can and will be used by God to accomplish the extraordinary. God, centuries ago, used the handsome, ruddy, young, daunted man David to slay the giant Goliath. God can and will use your church and our fellowship to testify of the gospel of God’s grace in the building of His church.
The gospel of Christ transforms sinners into saints and transforms churches into healthy bodies of vibrant spiritual life!
“That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain” (Philippians 2:15–16, ESV).
Serving by His Grace,
David E. Strope, Interim National Representative
PS: Registration for the 2022 GARBC Conference is now available! First-time attendees may attend free of charge. We are also starting the nominating process for the GARBC’s Council of 18. Please send your nominations of men for June’s Council of 18 election.
David Strope, Interim National Representative
Transition: My wife, Debbie, and I transitioned from 46 years of pastoral ministry, completing our service at Ankeny (Iowa) Baptist Church Jan. 30. We are so thankful for the privilege of serving as an undershepherd of Christ, especially for the patient, loving saints of God who so graciously welcomed our service.
Inauguration: Though I have been serving since December as interim national representative, my full-time and now singular task is serving RBM as INR (an acronym quiz follows!). I have begun traveling, am developing a speaking and travel ministry, now oversee the Regular Baptist Ministries office, and aid in connecting pastorless churches with pastoral candidates. My learning curve is lessening, though each day I learn what seems to be a new facet of my role.
Connection: Ministry at Bob Jones University (the seminary’s CoRE Conference and the university’s chapel), Appalachian Bible College (chapel and pastoral major class), and Saint Ansgar Baptist Church in Iowa were most beneficial in connecting with existing and new friends. What a joy it is to rub shoulders with ministry colleagues, to introduce them to the multiple ministries of Regular Baptist Ministries, to renew fellowship, and to serve God’s church.
Oversight: I continue to work at the ministry of oversight—identifying, training, and mobilizing the administrative leadership and staff—at Regular Baptist Ministries’ home office. This requires numerous online meetings throughout the month and writing memos, emails, and articles in my leadership role. I spend one workweek each month at the home office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
Retention: One of the relationships I am working at maintaining and extending is the relationship with my church, Ankeny (Iowa) Baptist Church. My faithfulness and productivity in the role of interim national representative will be greatly enhanced by appropriate activity and accountability in my church. The leadership and membership of Ankeny Baptist Church have insisted that Debbie and I remain members. I have attended two Sundays of ministries there as the quiet, unseen, even silent former senior pastor.
Recruitment: A key aspect of the ministry of national representative is recruiting nascent pastors, unaffiliated churches desiring a fellowship home, new colleagues in ministry, and like-minded ministries from which we can receive encouragement and give the same encouragement reciprocally.
Gratitude: We as a family are profoundly grateful for the privilege to serve Christ and our fellowship. Many needs exist in our lives and in our fellowship, but God has been wonderfully merciful, loading us daily with His benefits.
Intercession: Pray for Debbie and me as a couple, for Regular Baptist Ministries generally, and for each specific expression of labor to make disciples through healthy local churches. Intercede for Regular Baptist churches and the 2022 GARBC Conference, for Generate (Clare Jewell, director), for Regular Baptist Chaplaincy (Manning Brown, director), for Regular Baptist Press (David Gunn, editor), and for Regular Baptist International (Darrell Goemaat, interim coordinator).
“I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24, CSB).
David Gunn, Regular Baptist Press
Sometimes in ministry we fall into the familiar pattern of going through the motions—doing things, holding services, and executing programs without first taking time to appreciate and internalize their rationale. When we fall into this kind of rut, ministry effectiveness can become stunted.
In our ongoing article series “The Why Factor,” Joshua Mason, RBP’s Vacation Bible School creative manager, addresses this problem by examining the Biblical and philosophical underpinnings for children’s ministry in general and VBS programs in particular. Read this article series carefully, and renew your enthusiasm for the importance of reaching children with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
March 6: Crosstown Baptist Church, Silvis, Illinois
March 27: Peace River Baptist Church, Punta Gorda, Florida
Mark Johnson, Treasurer
We are excited to soon announce the winners of the 2021–2022 Christian Character Scholarships! Thanks to the partnership of seven Christian colleges, this program offers scholarships to 24 high school graduates within our fellowship who are seeking to expand their knowledge and skills for careers of service to Christ in both secular and ministerial fields. In addition to the scholarships awarded by participating colleges, Regular Baptist Ministries desires to expand the impact of this program by providing matching funds up to the dollar amount awarded by the colleges.
Would you consider helping qualified high school seniors continue in their spiritual development and commitment to serve wholeheartedly in local churches? Our goal is to raise an additional $25,000 by May 2022. Every donation will assist in awarding qualified students well-deserved scholarships. Visit us online to learn more and help us reach our goal!
Kerry Watkins, Director of Church Engagement
David Strope, interim national representative, and I will continue holding online meetings this year with pastors. The focus will be helping pastors better understand the purpose of the association and encouraging greater participation in the association. These meetings are by invite only, as we want to keep them small enough to allow time to answer everyone’s questions. Our next meeting is Wednesday, March 16 at 1:30 CST. If you are interested in attending or know of pastors who would be helped and encouraged by attending, please email me at email@example.com. I will take care of getting those interested scheduled into an upcoming meeting.
Darrell Goemaat, Regular Baptist International
Mandatory lockdowns from COVID-19, food shortages, civil unrest, natural disasters, and ongoing persecution are daily challenges facing partnering ministries of Regular Baptist International. Yet every month we hear stories that God is blessing their efforts to be faithful in their witness to Him and show compassion to the needy.
“Our government is not yet improving,” says Mang Cin Pau of Myanmar, a country that’s under martial law. Mang is pastor of Ambassador Baptist Church in Yangon. “In this midst of so many hindrances and hardships we are able to continue proclaiming the gospel among unbelievers. If we make excuses with COVID-19 and our political problems, we’ll never achieve our goal. We step up to go and share the gospel to the unreached people.” Through his church’s sharing of the gospel, two girls recently professed their faith in Christ and joined the church.
In addition to meeting the spiritual needs of his church members, Mang has also been meeting some of their physical needs. With the country under martial law, many members of his church are unable to work. So Mang has been giving them money to buy rice, cooking oil, and other necessities. Last year Regular Baptist International gave him a $1,500 grant to help him buy food for his church members.
Pastor Prasad Sakile of the New Life Regular Baptist Society in Andhra Pradesh, India, told us his church baptized 17 people on Christmas Day. Four of the new believers came from Muslim countries. Prasad praises the Lord for His grace to extend his church’s ministry into those countries. Prasad’s church also distributed clothes to 240 poor people and gave Christmas gifts to 700 children. He thanks donors and prayer partners of Regular Baptist International for their “kind prayers and support” for his ministry.
Partnering ministries and leaders face terror threats as well. Pastor Ndiho Pascal is president of the Community of Baptist Churches in Central Africa. Last month M23, a group of rebels fighting the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, attacked army stations in two villages where he ministers.
This area of Congo is regularly threatened by rebels who invade homes, kill people, and take their belongings. Members of Pastor Pascal’s church in that area need food, medicine, kitchen tools, and money to pay rent for the house the church uses for worship services, as poverty makes paying rent difficult. But he said his church wants to sustain its own ministry by helping 20 families start small income-generating activities like selling fruit.
Last year Regular Baptist International was able to financially assist several partnering ministries through its compassion fund, but this fund urgently needs to be replenished. Donations to this fund are sent to partnering ministries and their churches when they need to recover from natural disasters or man-made conflicts. Consider donating to the compassion fund.
Manning Brown, Regular Baptist Chaplaincy
Three chaplaincy applications are in pending status. Please pray that the Lord will continue to call men and women to serve in this vital ministry. And please pray for our chaplains and their families. Several chaplains are facing difficult decisions that will impact their ability to minister. Please pray for wisdom, discernment, and grace.
I am excited to have new speaking opportunities coming up. It is always a joy to visit our churches and share about Regular Baptist Chaplaincy and its chaplains. My wife, Jennifer, and I are looking forward to summer travel as we visit our chaplains in the field.
March 20: Shawnee Hills Baptist Church, Jamestown, Ohio
Clare Jewell, Generate
Generate continues to sponsor Church Solutions Conferences in various locations across the country. At the recent conference in Peoria, Illinois, bad weather kept a few attendees away, but the participants and I had a great discussion on how outreach, disciple making, and leadership development can lead to church planting.
Upcoming Church Solutions Conferences will take place in Rochester, Minnesota, March 10; Jamestown, Ohio, April 5; Northfield, Ohio, April 12; and Sarasota, Florida, April 28–29. Please pray that more and more of our churches will commit to getting on a path to multiply disciples, leaders, and churches.
Generate will host a luncheon during the 2022 GARBC Conference in June. Please plan on joining us as we highlight what God is doing through Generate. We will also host a fundraising dinner during the conference. We are praying that 30–50 people will attend and that the dinner will generate several new ministry partners.
March 6: Charity Baptist Church missions conference, Kannapolis, North Carolina
March 7–9: Exponential church planting conference, Orlando, Florida
March 10: Church Solutions Conference, Rochester, Minnesota
March 11–12: ABWE 24-Hour Demo, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
March 14–15: ABWE board meetings, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
March 20–23: New missionary orientation, ABWE, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
March 24–26: Hispanic leadership gathering, Dallas, Texas
March 29: Idea Day conference, Chicago, Illinois