Small Town Ministry: A Precious Joy

Published on November 11th, 2016

Like Indiana native John Cougar Mellencamp, “I was born in a small town” (Amenia, N.D.); I was raised in a small town (Red Lake Falls, Minn.); and now I live and serve a church in a small town (DeMotte).

In my small-town stays, I still experience the joy of being surrounded by many who have what I call a pre-Industrial Revolution Christian faith. My sainted father, who served as a pastor in a small town for many years, first pointed out that of all the vocations of the parishioners he served, it is the farmer who exhibits the most dependent faith. My father said this is because the farmer knows he is directly dependent on the Lord for his bounty. His crops need the right amount of sunshine, rain and protection from destructive weather elements. The farmer knows that only the Lord, “whom the wind and the sea obey” (Mark 4:41), controls them. Thus, when dry weather conditions occur, we hear the farmer say, “We need some rain,” which is not only a statement of fact; it is a prayerful petition.

In the rural church I serve, there is only one member who is a farmer. The rest of the congregation, however, still drives by Indiana cornfields and during a dry season prays the farmer’s prayer, “We need some rain.” Their rural lives have made them more aware of the connection between those crops and their food on the table.

This trust in the Heavenly Father is a joy to witness and work with in rural America. Here, it is easier to preach man’s total dependence upon God for salvation. Through the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ, He has procured something for us we can’t procure for ourselves. Thus, when the dry season of death surrounds us and we call to the Lord, “We need some refreshing rain (Acts 3:21),” the Lord happily obliges, refreshing us with His means of grace. In them, He empowers us to put our trust in His promise to give us a bountiful harvest in heaven.

For this reason, it is a joy to share the Gospel of Christ with a rural community.

Written by Rev. Jared Raebel, Faith Lutheran Church, DeMotte
Taken from the November Lutheran Witness