Bloomfield, Iowa — Creative efforts on the part of several Missouri churches and associations are contributing to the startup efforts of a new congregation Bloomfield, Iowa this summer.
The southern Iowa town is only a few miles north of the Missouri border, but there are no other SBC churches in Bloomfield or in Davis County. Church planter Roger Marlow, and his wife, Mileta, Bloomfield natives are leading efforts to start Bloomfield Fellowship there. With help from several churches in Missouri, two associations in Missouri and Iowa and a lot of energy from volunteers the new church has gathered a core group who meet on Sunday evenings in a community center.
This summer Marlow and the ministry partners began an ambitious plan which included three nearly back-to-back events. The first was an entry in the town’s 4th of July parade followed by an event at the town’s rodeo pavilion where horse-whisperer cowboy preacher, David Kenyon of Columbia broke a wild horse to lead while sharing the gospel with onlookers. The next week a vacation Bible school held on the courthouse square and that was followed by a block party with food, entertainment, games and door prizes.
Ten people have accepted Jesus to date through these efforts including one adult at the horse whisperer event and nine at the vacation Bible school. Marlow said they have discovered 47 prospects from the three projects including 11 who indicated they want to know more about the Sunday evening Bible study.
“The neat thing about this is the variety of churches and associations that came together from across Missouri and Iowa to work on this thing,” said Larry Gibson, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, Kirksville–the sponsor church of the new church start.
First Baptist Church, Plattsburg, MO sent 11 teenagers and four adults including youth pastor Christopher Argent, to lead the VBS July 16-19. Even though the temperatures were above 100 degrees several days, they led a spirited VBS worship with 17 children from the community.
“We had the opportunity to talk to these kids about the Bible stories and they don’t come from a Christian background of church. I led the Bible stories and I learned how to prepare for that. I’m a bit nervous about the door to door visiting, but it’s been fun,” said Zach Shelton, age 17, one of the FBC Plattsburg youth.
Brianna Mitchell, age 14 said “I wanted to interact with the kids. I am helping with the crafts. I love watching the kids as they are singing–doing the the VBS motions. It makes me happy.”
Argent, said he learned about the mission trip opportunity when he attended the Missouri Baptist Convention last fall and stopped by an Iowa booth, met Marlow and decided their youth needed to come to Iowa to help this summer.
Two MBC summer missionaries who are serving in northeast Missouri, Jennifer Rivera and Jessica Thompson, assisted with the three projects. Rivera said “As we were giving out free water bottles and soda pop to the area business employees on the town square prior to the parade they were saying ‘Free, what do you mean free?”
She said, “Their faces were incredulous. We had opportunities to pray for some people who are having surgery and they said ‘Who are you people and why are you here?’ We asked this one man if we could pray for him and he said ‘pray for my wife, that she is up in heaven and then he started crying.”
Area residents were mixed in their reactions to the new church and the activities on the town square but they were generally supportive, some even offering the missionaries and youth group refreshments as they stopped at their homes. “They followed one group and thanked them with bottles of water” Argent said.
Marlow commented “We hit our demographics in this project. We found kids who are not going to church anywhere. Some got saved. We found some kids in families where there were difficult home situations. The VBS was a touch in their lives from a different way of life. God was reaching out and touching them with love.” He added the new church and their leaders want Missouri and Iowa Baptists to “please continue to pray for us in this process.”
About 75 Bloomfield residents joined the group for the block party on the town square July 20th. Ethan and Kwon Butler, of First Baptist Church of Winigan, spent about 20 hours roasting a hog in a barbecue smoker to feed the crowd. Local musicians, the Jack Thompson family, sang praise songs and Pastor Larry Gibson spoke to the crowd with an evangelistic message. The South-Central Iowa Baptist Association loaned their block party trailer to the effort. Roasted pork sandwiches were distributed to the townspeople along with the love of the Missouri and Iowa volunteers.
About ten people have started attending the Sunday night Bible study. For more information on volunteering with the efforts contact Marlow at (641) 799-8365 or firstname.lastname@example.org.