Heroes of the Great Midwest
A hero is one who goes above and beyond to accomplish something fairly extraordinary. Life is filled with a variety of heroes, and my life is no different. One of the things I am regularly aware of is the value of influential men and women in my life. I am, without question, a product of far too many people to name who have helped shape me, sometimes positively and other times, not so positively. ;-) No heroes loom larger in my life than my parents. My dad and mom, Paul and Cheryl Fries, have long been an example of loving Jesus and walking in faith. By example they taught me many, many years ago to follow God, regardless of the cost. I have seen them make that decision over and over again. They are among the best examples I know of living lives that faithfully honor Jesus, and yet most of the world will never know them. This Sunday they begin another new chapter, and an incredibly remarkable one, in my mind. Over 7 years ago they moved from Florida, where my dad was a Director of Missions at the Holmes Baptist Association, to begin a new ministry as church planters in heavily unreached, rural, southwest Wisconsin. Through their faithfulness and tenacious spirit, Heartland Church in Muscoda, Wisconsin was born. Meeting every Sunday evening in a local movie theatre, they have seen God move and are reaching people in that area of the state. After a bit of time there, my dad was asked to consider becoming an interim pastor at another church, and he and my mom gladly assumed leadership at Blue River Valley Church along with their duties at Heartland. Their typical Sunday includes leading Blue River Valley on Sunday morning, and then leading Heartland on Sunday evenings. In addition to this, not long ago he was approached by another area church. First Baptist Church of Richland Center approached and asked him if he would consider serving as their interim pastor. After much prayer, they decided that they would respond to this call, and so beginning this Sunday, my dad will begin leading a 3rd church each Sunday. He will be preaching each week at 8:15, 10:45 and 6:30 in the respective congregations. Leading one church, a church plant none-the-less, is a herculean task, but to also help lead two other churches, albeit in an interim capacity, is an incredible commitment that evokes an image of a circuit rider in the frontier areas in days of old. In a very rural area, where there are few people willing to lead smaller churches, and even fewer who are qualified to serve as pastors, I am thankful for the faithfulness of my parents who love Jesus, love the people of southwest Wisconsin, and are willing to give themselves to that end, without any promise of recognition and gain. To be honest, I do not know that there is any way I could do what they do.
Thankfully they are not alone. The evangelical landscape is replete with other examples of faithful servants who lead well, and who honor Jesus. So today, as my parents prepare to take on this new task, I am thankful for superheroes of the faith, like them, and I have great hope for the advance of the gospel because of them. I hope, as you read this, it will encourage you to pray and encourage those who you know who are serving in incredible, yet often little-known ways, thanking God for their kingdom vision and faithfulness.