Saturday, April 27, 2013

Revival in Montana

Billings, MT from the Rim Rocks
Each year during Spring Break, the Seminary sends students and teachers to churches throughout the country to preach revival services for Revive This Nation. Most of the churches that request preachers are small town churches with a small congregation. This was our 4th Spring Break at the seminary and the first year that Daniel was able to preach. We were placed in a church in Billings, Montana. (Just north of Yellowstone) We stayed with the pastor and his wife and served Bethel Baptist Church that week.
We had quite a time getting to Billings (and another interesting time getting home, but more on that later). The seminary booked Daniel's ticket and paid for him to get there. I had to book my own ticket and pay for myself. By the time I booked my ticket, his ticket was too expensive so I decided to fly separately, but we still got there together on the same plane, and left Billings to head home on the same plane. I got an email on Friday night around 10pm that one of my connections was canceled due to weather in Denver. After waiting an hour to talk to a rep at Orbitz they told me they would have to contact United and it was an hour wait on their phone too. We found out that Daniel's flight into Denver was canceled too. The rep told us to just show up early and talk to someone at the ticket counter. So we got to the airport around 10am. We stopped at United and they told us we had to go to American since they were our first flight, they technically bought the tickets for us. We wait in line for about 45 minutes at American and finally get to the counter. The guy spent TWO HOURS trying to get us on a plane. Finally he did. We made it to Billings around midnight. We crashed.
On Sunday morning Daniel put on his suit and we headed to the church.We were way early because the pastor wanted to practice guitar. It was time change Sunday and a couple showed up early. I started talking with them and the man said he hadn't been to church in a long time but he knew he needed to start coming again. His wife and his daughter were with him. His wife is from Cambodia and she is Budist but encouraged her husband to come to church and wanted to come with him. I really enjoyed my conversation with them. There were several other people who showed up but I didn't get to meet all of them. I would guess they had an attendance of about 30. Daniel started his sermon series of John 14-16. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Dick gave an alter call and a teenage girl came up front and prayed to receive Christ. :-D She had been talking with the pastor and her grandmother and that Sunday she made the decision.

We ate lunch at the church with the members and had the chance to start getting to know people. This church is located in a low income area. Most of its members are disabled in some way, whether it is physically (mostly health problems) or mentally. During the week we had the chance to hear some of the testimonies and we were in awe of how these people overcame some of their problems when they found God. We went home well fed and enjoyed a short nap before we headed back to the church for the evening service.

On Monday we hung out at the pastor's house and had lunch and took a walk over to Cabela's to get out of the house. Daniel preached again Monday night.
Tuesday morning we went to breakfast with a woman and her mother and had a chance to get to know them and minister to them. Later that day we went to lunch with two other members. We loved spending time with the church members! Daniel preached again that night. See a pattern here? :) We had a pie and ice cream fellowship that evening. 
On top of the Rim Rocks with Billings in the background.
On Tuesday we met one of the Montanta Baptist Assocation pastors/missionaries and had lunch at Red Lobster. We learned more about missions in Montana and the need for churches and Christians to partner with their local churches. Pastor Dick drove us around the city and up to the Rim Rocks to look out at the city. It was beautiful with the mountains in the background. We had dinner at one of the church member's home. And Daniel preached that evening. 

On Wednesday we took a drive with the pastor and his wife to Red Lodge up in the mountains. We got to play in the snow for a bit and drive up the mountain to look at some scenic views and then we ate at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. There are several kids that would play on the basketball courts at church so I went to Walmart and bought things to make salvation bracelets/keychains with. I got to sit down with 6 kids and explain what salvation meant using the bracelets. That evening we said our goodbyes to the church members and prayed over them.

We had issues getting home the next day. Our reservations had been canceled because of everything that happened when we were trying to get to MT. Long story short, we sat in Denver for a long time until we were finally given seats on a flight straight to DFW. We got exit row seats and a free dinner out of it though. When all the problems happened while we were trying to get to MT, I blamed Satan. I was thinking that he was trying to keep us from getting to MT for the revival. But now that I look back on the situation, God totally had control the whole time. Our flight from Denver to DFW that we finally got on was amazing. I sat next to a woman who I was able to share the Gospel with and encourage her in her faith. In the end she didn't make any kind of decision, but she did indicate that there was something missing in her life. Planting seeds. :)

We learned a lot from this church and it's pastor. A lot of times we go in with ideas and misconceptions of what a church is supposed to look like. But church is just a building where people can come to hear the Word of the Lord and be accepted because we have something in common - we all love God and His people. This church was unlike any other church we have ever been a part of. Most of the people are hurting. Most of them had some sort of disability. Most of them were considered "outcasts" in regular society. But this church and it's members accepted them. Just as Jesus would have. Christ died for everyone. We all have sins and we all need a Savior. We were very thankful for the opportunity to serve this church and get to know it's members. We had an idea in our heads of what missions in North America looked like, and this trip opened our eyes to a whole other side. Churches like Bethel need help. They need people who are willing to serve and love those that others reject. This church has been faithful to it's neighborhood and members and God has blessed them. 

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