Our Heritage: Ankeny, Iowa

The Ankeny area was often in the back of my mind because of several young people with gospel backgrounds who had moved to this area. One November day, my exercise changed from “someday” to “now.” It was November 16, 2006, standing at the gravesite of Sharon Kampman, a faithful sister from the Marion assembly. Also there and listening was Dennis Andreessen, 65, a man raised in an excellent home going to Sunday school at the Waterloo assembly. Dennis and Marge raised their family in Des Moines; the nest was now empty. I asked Dennis, “if gospel meetings were held in Ankeny would you come?” He immediately said yes. Under my breath I said, “Lord. I’m going to Ankeny.” Leonard De Buhr would have said, “Lord? If you’re going to Ankeny, can I go along?” We were led to a large schoolhouse called the Nevelin Center and allowed to rent one small room. Shoving the contents into a corner, we put up the Two Roads chart and invited the people. Our first meetings were six weekends in the spring of 2007, but few came. Dennis and Marge, however, never missed. In August meetings were held for eight more weekends. Two very profitable Seed Sower distributions were conducted in 2012 and 2013. The response was poor but in both summers the Lord gave us several visitors to our nightly meeting.

Births from God

We will never forget the night Dennis was saved, August 20, 2007, through the words of a hymn, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.” The words “Jesus paid it all” opened his mind to see the work of Christ was finished, just for Dennis. Meetings continued in the spring and fall for the next two years, with God reaching two more. From the summer of 2010 to the fall of 2011 the Lord moved three assembly couples to the Ankeny area. They were a huge help in supporting the gospel. We were later directed to the Fairfield Inn, and we used their conference room for 14 months. Here the Lord gave us two more souls.

Believers are Guided

We began a Sunday school and teaching meeting every Lord’s Day and gospel at night. These days were a great blessing to the flock. It was almost impossible to get other children, but one thing we noticed: the interest in ministry was rising. Believers were enjoying the manna and appreciation was evident. Our position in Christ, which brought great privilege and responsibilities, was meaningful to the saints. It was becoming clear that God was not only working with sinners, but also in the hearts of believers. The truth of gathering to the Lord’s name in assembly capacity was becoming a priority.

Building is Garnered

An empty city office building with a flat cement parking lot was located.  On July 8, 2012 the entire flock toured the building. Two of the brethren wanted to bulldoze, but after much discussion, it was decided to pursue purchasing the building, even though we knew many working hours would be required. During these months of spiritual heart searching, on August 12th my normal reading directed me to Isaiah 8:10.  The last five words are, “for God is with us.” That was a real boost. This gave us personal confidence to continue the discussion as to a building. Several meetings were held with the saints. We finally agreed to submit a bid, expecting to be denied because of the low offer due to the extreme amount of work needed. I can take you to the very spot I was sitting when the phone rang informing us that the city had accepted our proposal, even though another proposal was higher. On March 12, 2013 we were given the key to the new gospel hall. On April 1st, 18 days after taking possession, the Lord saved Dan Massoth, driving home from his boyhood home in Kansas. I mentioned in my opening paragraph that young people had moved to this area. One of those young people was Melody, Dan’s wife. How humbling to see the grace of God.

Now it was time to begin the physical work. Every imaginable aspect of remodeling was required to make this building useable. Cupboards were removed, ceilings raised, cement floors leveled, drywall replaced, bathrooms overhauled, and the entire building, from front to back, painted. Not all, but most of the work was done by believers who volunteered their energy and time. One family, coming from Portage, MB, gave most-appreciated help. Nehemiah finished repairing Jerusalem’s walls in 52 days. On the 54th day, we enjoyed opening day as we met together for the first time. On May 5, 2013, Robert Weber spoke to five children on the number “5.”

Baptism Gladness

On a picture-perfect August day, 55 adults and 10 children witnessed our first baptism, with four men obeying the Lord. Christians from several assemblies, some driving 100 miles, gave their support. Over 900 lbs. of “the old man” were buried. Thankfully we can say three of the four remain with us in happy fellowship.

Brethren Gathered

On May 4, 2014, exactly one year after opening day and seven years after the first gospel plunge, 12 of us, with 33 visitors, sat down around a loaf of bread and cup of wine to remember the Lord Jesus. Saints wept as they thought of the grace of God and, like Nehemiah, “perceiv[ed] that this work was of God” (Neh 6:16, KJV). This was the first assembly planted in the state of Iowa in 40 years. Since our commencement we have grown to 22. In the words of Samuel we can say, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1Sam 7:22, KJV).

Burden for Gentiles

After Ankeny, we were led to another field untouched by the gospel. Sharing the same exercise were three young men who had moved to the (Davenport) Quad Cities: Andrew Baker, and Jeff and Danny Saword. For years, this area tugged at my heart and now, like Ankeny, other believers had moved to this area. After weeks of organization by Tim and Eunice McCally, plans were set for a Seed Sower distribution the first week in August 2015. It was a thrill to watch seven van loads leave the campground each morning to distribute John 3:16 texts. Needing a room for meetings, we were directed to the Davenport Police station. They permitted the public to use a room there free of charge. As in Ankeny, among the 75 Seed Sower helpers, the Lord gave us several young men with gospel gift. We were introduced to several visitors. One was Angel Clark, born in Bethlehem, who professed in 2010. Nancy Kling, saved in 2006 tent meetings about 150 miles to the west, moved to Davenport. She was the means of bringing Odalia, who trusted Christ one night during the meeting. In addition, seven believers who are gospel minded and support meetings well, live within an hour’s drive. Currently, the focus has shifted from Davenport to Muscatine. Please pray for us.