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Hopeless Europe; Hope Filled Messages

Interview with one of our Missionaries: Lancaster

For 20 years Dottie and I ministered to the U.S. military and their families serving in the Mannheim/Heidelberg areas of Germany. We are now involved in church planting, raising missionary awareness, recruiting military missionaries, teaching and discipling and aiding missionaries on the field.
 |  Tom & Dottie Lancaster  |  Europe

Missionary - Tom Lancaster

lancasterQuestion: I’m sure there are many that will read this article that don’t know you well, so can you give us some background information on you and your family, and how God led you to the place where you serve today? Don’t forget to give us the names and ages of all the children.

Reply: Nearly 50 years ago Dottie and I had yielded our lives to do anything that God wanted us to do and we were very serious about that. That commitment to God has led us to start and pastor two churches in the states for a total of 25 years and then to spend the last 20 years serving as missionaries to the U.S. military and their families stationed in Germany. Our hearts have been attached to the military going all the way back to when I served in the United States Marine Corp. In our last pastorate in the states we had a large military ministry, so we have always had a special love for our troops. God arranged the circumstances for us to be contacted about a need for a missionary pastor to the U.S. military serving in Mannheim, Germany. We immediately sensed the peace of God to go there and in spite of the challenges we knew it was God’s will.

For 20 years Dottie and I ministered to the U.S. military and their families serving in the Mannheim/Heidelberg areas of Germany. They have been extraordinary years and we have seen a harvest of souls, the fruit of full-time Christian workers, the joy of discipling servants and sending them to churches all over the world, as well as a miraculous missions program that has helped to encourage hundreds of missionaries in Europe, as well as aiding in sending missionaries all over the world. Sadly, our base closed in August due to the realignment of troops in Europe. Dottie and I have transitioned from missionary pastor to itinerant missionaries. We are now involved in church planting, raising missionary awareness, recruiting military missionaries, teaching and discipling and aiding missionaries on the field.

God has blessed us with two wonderful children, Mark and Dawn, who with their mates happily serve the Lord. We have four precious grandchildren from ages 6-20 years old.

Question: How well have you adjusted to the culture?

Reply: I adjusted very well because I have mainly worked with the U.S. military, but we always had a strong German presence in the church.

Question: What new challenges have you experienced that you didn’t experience before?

Reply: Having just transitioned in August from missionary pastor to itinerant missionary it is a challenge to move from the blessings of ministering to “my people” to new faces every week and not having a people to come home to.

Question: What is the most influential religion in the area you are working, and what unique challenge does that present?

Reply: The two religions in Germany are Catholic and Lutheran; however, our ministry was to the United States military and a particular religion was not relevant.

Question: How will you go about evangelizing the people you are trying to reach?

Reply: We have tried to evangelize them in the Biblical manner - publicly and from house to house. This consisted of church services, door to door soul-winning, tract ministry, Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, evangelistic campaigns, church planting, missions, etc.

Question: What methods will you use to train and disciple the new converts?

Reply: New converts classes, personal in-home Bible study with each new convert or new family, Sunday School classes geared to teaching the Bible, including teaching how to study the Bible. Also a Bible Institute that is available to all.

Question: What are some of the goals you have set for yourself and the ministry?

Reply: Our goal has always been to glorify God in our personal lives, to win souls to Christ, to lead people into a life of commitment to the Lord and to start and build churches that are committed to reaching the world.

Question: What advice would you offer a missionary preparing to serve in Europe?

Reply: Go with the intention of staying, learn to encourage yourself in the Lord, and keep a daily walk with the Lord.

Question: How can your home church encourage you and other missionaries on the field?

Reply: Keep in touch with the missionary which our church does. Pray for the missionary. Also, regularly inquire about the missionary’s needs - spiritual, physical and emotional.

Missionary - Dottie Lancaster

Question: How are you adjusting to the culture?

Reply: Germany is a modern country in many ways, but still has an old world flavor to it. I love that! Other than the language, I adjusted well to the culture. Germans are a bit more laid back than Americans. When we went to Germany in 1992 stores closed at 5:00 p.m. sharp during the week and 2:00 p.m. sharp on Saturday and on Sundays nothing was open. That took a little adjusting, but of course that is a very insignificant thing compared to many other cultures. And of course our ministry to the U.S. military and their families always gave us that ‘touch of home’.

Question: Do you involve yourself in the ministry, or is your focus on taking care of the home and the children.

Reply: Tom and I have always worked as a team. Our children are grown, married and have children of their own, but when they were small they had first priority over ministry; however, we always involved them in our ministry and both of them are happily serving the Lord today. My priorities have always been: 1. The Lord 2. My husband 3. My children 4. Home 5. Ministry. I have always found that when you have priorities right - everything works right. Since our nest has been empty my ministry has been doing anything that I can to help Tom. That has ranged from organizing programs, ladies’ ministry, children’s ministry, secretarial help OR having a good meal for him, sewing a button on a shirt, keeping a clean house - whatever he needs.

Question: What is a typical day like for you?

Reply: My day is probably like most Christian wives: keeping a home, preparing meals, preparation for a Sunday School class or planning an activity or event, church activities and building bridges of friendship with women in order to reach them with the gospel.

Question: What advice would you offer the wife of a missionary preparing to serve in Europe?

Reply: I would offer the same advice to a missionary wife, no matter where she is serving: Keep your heart warm towards the Lord, stay in His Word, stay close to your husband, make your house a warm, welcoming place for your family, keep your priorities right, be content, have a sense of humor, be flexible.

This question is for both of you.

Question: How can your home church encourage you and other missionaries on the field?

Reply: (Dottie: Pray for us! Read our prayer letters and keep up with our ministry. A note occasionally is a blessing, too.)
(Tom: Answered this question above).

Question: What are the greatest prayer needs you have for yourselves and the ministry, keeping in mind that this article will not be read until a few months from now.

Reply: (Dottie: Please pray for the transition that has taken place in our lives and ministry in the past few months due to the closure of our military base in Germany.)
(Tom: Pray for God’s anointing on Dottie and myself. Pray for our health. We are not ‘spring chickens’ anymore, but our desire to serve God is stronger than ever. Pray that God will enable us to be used of Him in reaching missionaries for the military.)

Question: What would you like to say to your home church, and your other supporting churches, that perhaps we didn’t cover in this interview?

Reply: (Dottie: Thank you for your love, your prayers and your support over these many years. We are keenly aware of the fact that God has used you to help us do what we have done for His glory and we are so grateful.)
(Tom: I would like to say thank you a million times to Bro. Carroll Joye, our sending pastor, and his wife, Bobbie. They have been our dearest friends for 45 years. He pastors a church that has loved us, supported us and encouraged us for all of these years. They have been there when we needed them and it gives great peace in knowing that if we have any need they will do anything they can to meet that need. I also would like to thank the many churches that pray for us and support us. We truly are “laborers together” and I rejoice in the fact that the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people who have been saved since Dottie and I have been on the field will be put to your account.)

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