We arrived home the night of July 16 from our ministry trip to the USA and were greeted by Sybrand, Beth and Carol Marie at the airport. Since we didn’t sleep the whole trip on the airplane, we were glad to get a good night’s sleep in our own beds. The next morning we were greeted by the rest of the family in RSA and enjoyed some time with them. Christmas time for human giving and receiving all over again. Grandma and Aunt Connie had done some shopping while in the USA.We believe our trip to the USA was very productive and useful and extremely encouraging. Everywhere we went, in terms of the churches in Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the ministries seemed to be doing well, and we were very encouraged by what we saw the Lord doing. It was evident that almost every church was much into biblical counseling, which of course brought joy to our hearts. Almost every church had someone in charge of the biblical counseling area of ministry, which among other things demonstrated every church’s involvement in using and training biblical counselors. A few people in almost every church were certified by NANC, and others were in process.
In addition to the few churches I will mention, I could honestly tell you about the ministry of and devotion to faithful preaching, missions, discipleship and biblical counseling in the Bible Church of Little Rock, Arkansas (Pastor Timothy Senn, formerly Pastor Lance Quinn), Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth (Pastor Daniel Kirk), Believer’s Fellowship (Pastor Bruce Blakey) and Redeemer Community Church (Elder Marshall Asher and Pastor Daniel Mollenkopf) in San Antonio, Texas, Cornerstone Bible Fellowship (Pastor Glenn Dunn) in Cleveland, Ohio, and Grace Fellowship (Pastor Chad Bennett, formerly Pastor Tedd Tripp) in Hazleton, Pa.
If I were to briefly describe what we experienced in each of these churches, the story I would tell would be quite similar to what I will describe about a few churches. I will comment on several churches as representative of the other churches in which we ministered this June and July. In terms of what I will share, I could say similar things about all of the churches and pastors and elders in which we had the privilege of ministering this summer. I’m sure that each of these churches have had and were experiencing some difficulties, but for the most part, what we saw and heard God doing was very uplifting and caused us to have a positive attitude toward the future of the church in the USA.
That the Bible Church of Little Rock is committed to a well-rounded ministry, including an emphasis on biblical counseling, is indicated by the fact that for a period of time I actually was asked by them to come to that church for two or three months out of the year and teach biblical counseling courses. Their commitment to biblical counseling is also demonstrated by the fact that Paul Hamline, a graduate of The Master’s College MABC program, is now on the pastoral staff. From the very beginning of our South African training ministry, this church along with several of the other churches has supported us in prayer and with finances. (A missions team from BCLR, pictured, arrived here over the weekend.)
The interest of another church, Faith Bible Church in Sharpsburg, GA (pastored by John Crotts), in biblical counseling is indicated by the fact that they are planning to construct an entire building that will be used for biblical counseling offices and training space for this and other ministries. I visited Faith Bible eight years ago when they were just moving into a new, and as i recall, a somewhat smaller building. Now they have a beautiful and rather large facility that was comfortably filled on the Sunday we were there. In early afternoon of that day, we met at Martha and Sanford Peace’s house and were encouraged by what we heard and saw the Lord doing through the ministry there. Pastor John is a warm, friendly and caring pastor, and the church seemed to reflect the same qualities. What we experienced with John was typical of what we experienced with all the pastors and elders. They all appeared to be shepherds who reflect the pastoral qualities of 1 Timothy 3 and 1 Peter 5. We praise God for the men in this church and the other churches we visited and hope that the Lord will raise up and equip more men of their quality.
While in the USA during June and part of July we spoke at a depression seminar sponsored by Faith Community Church in Woodstock, GA. On that occasion, we were greeted by a church full of people from that church and other local churches who were eager to hear what God’s Word had to say about depression and ministering to the depressed. That church is pastored by Shane Koehler, and again they have another man who is superintending the counseling ministry. They also have a ministry (dormitory and feeding and other physical facilities) for counseling and discipling drug addicts. This ministry is supervised by another man in their congregation who is wonderfully being used of the Lord in helping people put off their ungodly habits and replace them with righteous ones. Again, it was evident that the people loved their pastor and were devoted to joining with him and other leaders in their ministry. That church is so committed to the importance of biblical counseling (discipleship) that they sponsor counselor training conferences on a regular basis for the whole area. I have heard from others outside the church about the value and effectiveness of these conferences.
At the end of our 2013 ministry trip to the USA, it was our privilege to spend time with the pastor and some of the elders and people of Providence Church in Duluth, GA. Pastor Ty Blackburn and other elders along with numerous people of Providence are deeply in the ministry of discipleship/counseling. On two Sundays during our 2013 USA ministry, I preached in their Sunday services and was encouraged by their interest in hearing and applying God’s Word. Dr. Jack Enter, who is overseeing the Providence counseling ministry, and his wife, Barbara, are attending counseling courses this month at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. Barbara has already graduated from the program with her MABC, and she and another lady from Providence are certified as NANC counselors. Providence has sponsored biblical counseling courses and has had several people from the church attend the counseling courses conducted by Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, IN, as well as the courses taught at the Woodstock, GA, church. A missions team from Providence (pictured) will visit us at Lynnwood Baptist Church next month and attend our Strengthening Ministries Training Institute counseling courses, which we are providing at LBC to equip pastors and other Christians in this region to do biblical counseling and discipleship.
As I close, I want to sincerely thank all of the churches and people that have and still do support us in various ways. God has continued to demonstrate his unmerited and wholly undeserved kindness to us by giving us faithful and loving churches and people who stand with us in our lives and ministry. Please remember to be in special prayer for our SMTI classes to be held next month and throughout the year. Please join us in prayer for our and our son-in-law’s and daughter’s various ministries at Lynnwood and for the Living Hope Church and 1hope4africa ministries overseen by our son Joshua and our daughter-in-law Marda. And join us in thanking God because the two procedures recently performed on me came back indicating that I don’t have the kind of cancer that two different doctors thought I might have. And if you will, please pray that we might use whatever life the Lord gives us until our dying day in a faithful and enthusiastic manner.
We love you in Christ,
Wayne (and joined by Carol) Mack
Some favorite verses: Jude 24, 25, Romans 14:7, 8