Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSPOTLIGHT ON MISSIONS: Michael & Laura Beth Strong • Minneapolis, Minn.

SPOTLIGHT ON MISSIONS: Michael & Laura Beth Strong • Minneapolis, Minn.

         “For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. ‘These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth’” (Zech. 4:10 ESV)

         “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy” (Ezra 3:12 ESV).

      We just experienced another “boring” month of small beginnings in foundation laying. I want to share some highlights with you:

      • God is allowing spiritual warfare. We had another bout with COVID, and this kept us from working in the fields the way we would prefer to be working. We also saw a continued absence of core team members who have played a significant role in the church plant formation and work. And the weight of not being available to minister to my family or our church due to taking on additional hours of work created issues and strains in both places.

      With the absence of people stepping up to fill the void, there is a noticeable difference in the church and home. Laura and I have been leaning on Jesus to take care of everything, provide help we are still waiting on and help us be content as we wait and live in the weakness allowed in this season. We are still alive, working and waiting, knowing what little we are able to do is what God calls us to do at this time. We are trusting in Christ to be enough.

         • God is opening doors and spreading the gospel. God has also been opening new doors to take the gospel to new places. I was asked a while back to come and lead the Kansas and Western Missouri Association’s Missions Rally. Dan McGee, who heads up the association, allowed me to seek God on the theme for the event. I sought God in prayer for several weeks and arrived at “We Are Unashamed of the Gospel.” I shared what is going on in Minnesota and preached a sermon with the same title and message from Rom. 1:14-17.

      At the gym I’m working in part time, the door has been opened to share the gospel. This week, I gave a man who is “spiritual, but without a religion,” a Bible when he asked for one he could understand. I am also discipling a young man I worked with who said I was at the gym because he “prayed for me to come and disciple him.” Each day I work, I try to show the light of Christ to everyone there, whether they are my co-workers, boss or a member of the gym.

         • God is showing me things are happening as they should. Isaiah continues to step up and become the leader we saw God is making him. He led the church while I had COVID with only a couple hours’ notice and when I was out of town. He has also been leading me through a book he really wanted to turn into a group for the church in the future. It has been a joy to watch him grow and flourish and hear about how God is using him at Teen Challenge in his internship.

      We even made some progress on some of the home repairs that drove me to pick up extra work, and our vans are now both running. We are thankful to God for all the help and provision He has given.

         • God is helping us enjoy our boring lives. There isn’t much that is glorious about our lives to those who live out in the world. We don’t take vacations or go on exotic trips. We don’t usually get away for a weekend or even go to concerts or events. We work to protect and strengthen our marriage, to be parents who know and love their kids each day and help our kids have daily habits and routines that will allow them to live disciplined lives as adults, to be present and prepared for our jobs in the church and to keep our promises to those who count on us.

      I spend a lot of time studying in the hours no one is awake, praying when I am by myself, planning and prioritizing and a lot of time saying I can’t do things due to other obligations. I also spend a lot of time listening to people at regular, pre-arranged times. I have habits of hygiene, physical health, mental health and spiritual health that I work to guard and protect. To some, it is boring. To me, it has proven to be a gift that provides life. God has used it to help us persevere and endure through hardships. Despite feeling stretched, we have also been able to see God protect us and keep us together, growing deeper in love with those He has given us and more connected in our church and family with the few who desire to be connected.

      We also continued working through the sermon series and teaching series, and Laura continues to lead the women through a book on church membership on Friday nights. We are focused on diligently finishing the things we start. We plod along week after week, and what we see is that God provides growth. He even does this in what many believe are boring, normal, non-exciting things.

      Please pray for God to give our people a hunger to learn how to study, not just read, the Scriptures for themselves. Also pray they will learn how to move beyond self-feeding to feeding others.

      God has given us a unique ministry. We serve in a hard part of a hard city. Overcoming the challenges of poverty, broken homes, incarceration, mental illness, physical illness and violent crime keeps some groups and individuals from coming to join us to serve here. I get that, but it doesn’t have to keep us from reaching the people of North Minneapolis together. I need help. I need prayer support for the spiritual warfare that is ramping up again. I also need supplies and financial support to be free to evangelize the lost and disciple those who are coming to Christ.

      As many of you know, I have picked up two additional jobs to make ends meet. I would like to eliminate at least one of those jobs to reinvest the time in my personal devotional life and the lives of my family and church to remain spiritually healthy. If you would like to assist with this, you can join us by partnering financially. We also need financial partners to help us add some help with administration and childcare needs since many of our people are not legally allowed to serve in children’s ministry yet.

      We have other needs that range from transportation to interpretation for Spanish speakers. We may not have people yet that have those gifts or assets, but financial support could give us options to serve in these new and growing ways until ministers join us or are raised up through discipleship.

      You can send funds to assist through the church plant at Freedom Baptist Church, c/o Michael Strong, 1348 Sheridan Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minn. 55411.

      Thanks for your prayers and partnership. It is making an eternal difference.