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May 23, 2017

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Praise and Proclaim Ministries launches outreach initiative in Roanoke, VA

by Dave Malnes

Praise and Proclaim Ministries rejoices in the opportunity to train members at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Roanoke, VA to proclaim the gospel. And the Lord blessed their efforts.

Tucked away within the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains, Roanoke is a city of about 100,000 people with a long historical background. Living out west, I am accustomed to seeing barren foothills of the Rocky Mountains that lead to snow-covered peaks. It’s much different in Roanoke. Even though the surrounding mountains remind me of foothills, they are densely covered with trees and forests. They provide a beautiful backdrop to the many homes in the community of Bonsack located east of the city.

Bustling with wildlife, I couldn’t help noticing the different sounds coming from a variety of birds native to this area. With the humid air and the periodic thundershowers that kept sweeping through the area, I relished the opportunities the Lord providing me to visit new areas that I have never been to before.  Roanoke, VA is one of those places.

Praise and Proclaim Ministries had the privilege of partnering with Our Savior Lutheran Church the weekend of May 19-21, 2017 to train its members how to proclaim the gospel and provided them with an experience to put their training into action.

The congregation was recognized and established as a self-supporting congregation in 2001. About a dozen years before, a group of WELS families who lived in the surrounding area began to meet in each other’s homes. For some families, this meant driving 45 to 60 minutes to join together and hold a worship service. They faithfully collected offerings and prayed that the Lord would lead and guide this congregation until that time when they could call a pastor and have a place to meet. It was a preaching station for almost a dozen years, before the WELS Board of Home Missions provided a pastor and the members purchased an old Baptist church to hold worship services. The front part of the church facing the road is almost one hundred years old and there have been two additions since that time. When a person walks through the back entrance, they are pleasantly greeted with a very nice worship space and corresponding meeting rooms and offices.

 

Our Savior has a communicant membership of 73 people and an average worship of 30-35 faithful members led by Rev. Paul Workentine. On Friday evening, it was remarkable and impressive to see twenty-three faithful members from Our Savior come for training! They were eager, ready, and willing to serve their Savior and proclaim the Good News in the community where God has placed them.

The following morning, members from Our Savior went out into the neighborhoods located across the highway and put their training into action. And the Lord provided open doors and divine opportunities to proclaim the gospel.

An older couple was amazed to see two members from Our Savior at their door. In the past few weeks, the couple had been talking about God and felt badly that they have not attended church in years. There were once members of a Lutheran church nearby, and very pleased to receive an invitation to come to a Lutheran church near their home. The woman said, “The Lord was answering her prayers today.”

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One person knocked on the door which was answered by a lady who had recently resigned from a stressful job so she could spend some more quality time with her family. Her husband worked at night and they didn’t see each other as often as she would like. As a result, they were facing some current financial struggles. She was very open to knowing more about Jesus and how he helps provide peace and truth during difficult times.

A team of two participants came across a lady who was taking out empty boxes from the back of her car. Her elderly parents were nearby attempting to help. After a brief visit, the lady told them that she had recently found out a few things about her fiancé and was in the process of moving him out of the house. Though obviously struggling with the hurt and disappointment, she was very cordial and seemed open to hear more about how the Lord provides “certain answers during uncertain times” and belonging to church family that cares about each other. It was perfect timing to share about a perfect Savior and what he has already done for us.

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I leave Our Savior Lutheran Church with a smile on my face and a prayer in my heart for all the souls we met and the number of gospel seeds that were planted. Some seeds were planted in fertile soil and others were generously tossed on hard-packed soil. Either way, believers are not called to judge soils, but generously sow the seeds. And like faithful farmers, we trust that the Lord of the harvest will use these seeds according to his will and purpose.

In conjunction with proclaiming the gospel, the members invited families to have their children attend a summer Robotics Camp located at Our Savior Lutheran. The pastor and members provide a wonderful experience for kids ages 10-14 to build and program their own robot. We pray that the Lord will bless this effort.

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What a joy and privilege for Praise and Proclaim Ministries to partner with Rev. Workentine and the members at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Roanoke.

 

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