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In it for the long haul: 50 years of missionary support

A lot has changed in the more than 50 years since Dan & Lindie Bacon joined OMF International. They’ve moved from the USA to Japan to Singapore and back. Their roles have changed, from serving on the field as new missionaries to being a consultant and mentor for missionaries and mission leaders. Their family has changed, from being a couple with young children to being grandparents and great grandparents.

Through almost all of that time, though, there has been a constant: ongoing prayer and financial support from Temple Bible Church in Temple, Texas.

‘It’s been a lifelong commitment,’ said Dan Bacon.

From small beginnings

The support was modest at first. One of Dan’s classmates from Dallas Theological Seminary was involved with the beginnings of the church that originally met in someone’s house and invited the Bacons to share about their work with OMF. Though small, the congregation faithfully gave what it could.

In time, the small church that met in a house grew to become one of the largest churches in the area. A pivotal moment was the arrival of Pastor Gary DeSalvo, who led the church from 1981 until his death in August 2019. Today, the church averages close to 2,000 people meeting each Sunday. DeSalvo was adamant that, though the buildings may change and numbers increase, missions should remain a core value of the church.

‘He loved to teach the Bible and he loved missions,’ the church’s current teaching elder Chase Bower said of DeSalvo.

The Bacons’ roles in OMF have varied from serving overseas to a variety of responsibilities in OMF (US) over their more than five decades with the organization. After joining OMF in 1967, the Bacons left for Japan, where they did church planting for eight years. They then served at International Center in Singapore, before returning to the US to serve as National Director in 1978. Dan served in that role for 20 years before they returned to Singapore for a short time and then back in the U.S. ever since, usually serving in a leadership development or consulting role. Though now ‘semi-retired’ in his early 80s, Dan still serves as part of the OMF (US) Equipping Team that prepares new, prospective missionaries for serving with OMF. Temple Bible Church has continued to support the Bacons even in their semi-retirement.

‘Knowing that missionaries often get dropped when they come into retirement age, Gary made sure that support for us would continue indefinitely,’ said Dan.

From humble beginnings, Temple Bible Church now gives 20 percent of its offerings to missions each year. The church also partners in prayer. In discussing their involvement with God’s work around the world, Bowers held up a stack of prayer cards on his desk for each missionary and quoted the missionary Samuel Zwemer who said, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” Small groups in the church are connected with specific missionaries to pray for them and connect with them regularly.

Extending the church

Bowers was the church’s missions pastor before becoming the lead teaching elder. Generally, he said the church doesn’t want members to “just give a check,” but to be as involved as possible with the workers the church supports.

‘(Missionaries) are really an extension of our church,’ Bowers said.

‘One of the things we talked about is when you become friends with a missionary and part of their support team and their prayer team, you might never go to Japan, but when you partner financially and prayerfully, you’re a partner in the ministry in a place where your feet may never touch. You get to be this little part of what Jesus did there. We want that idea pulsing through the veins of our church.’

Personal connection between church members and missionaries is key in the missionary-supporting church relationship, says Dan. After Gary DeSalvo became pastor of Temple Bible Church in 1981, he and Dan also became friends. Eventually, Dan asked Gary to serve on the OMF (US) Board of Trustees, which he did for 10 years. Dan says that Gary was the Bacons’ ‘champion’ at the church, keeping them informed of what the Bacons were doing and the importance of coming alongside them.
‘Relationships are the key to long-term support,’ Dan said. ‘If you’re connected to somebody you know and love, it’s a lot easier to stay with them. They’re not just a name in a bulletin. It’s more than just money.’

In addition to the Bacons, Temple Bible Church is connected with many other missionaries as well, including OMF worker Ashley Boutte. Like the Bacons, she, too is beginning her missionary service in Japan. Boutte came to the church while she was a freshman in college. She became involved in the college group and began discipling middle school and high school girls. She later spent a summer with OMF in Japan before returning to Japan long-term in 2022. Since global missions is such an emphasis in the church, it’s been rewarding to see missionaries raised up from within the congregation, says Bowers.
“We miss Ashley, but that’s part of sending your best,” said Bowers.

And so the partnership between Temple Baptist Church and OMF that began 50-plus years ago with the Bacons continues to a new generation with Boutte – and the Bacons, still.

As Bacon said, ‘We are so grateful for their commitment to the long haul of serving global missions.’


Photo: Temple Bible Church

Written by Chad Berry

OMF (US) Writer and Assistant Editor

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