Most Michigan Lawmakers commute to the State Capitol Building every day, and that created a complication for Dr. Dean Mathis who, in the fall of 2012, was trying to establish a Bible study to further Capitol Ministries’ mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ in the political arena.
The majority of Lawmakers come from the lower third of the state, which is where most of the population resides. And because Lansing is centrally located, most Public Servants drive to the Capitol Building daily. Even the Lawmakers who live in the more remote Upper Peninsula fly in on Tuesdays and usually leave for home on Thursdays or Fridays.
So how, Dr. Mathis wondered, would they find time to attend a Capitol Ministries weekly Bible study?
“So my wife and I began to pray about it,” Dr. Mathis said. “And I began to figure out that Legislators spend more time in their car than anywhere else!”
Dr. Mathis began to put his Bible studies on CDs that Public Servants could listen to while driving or flying. And then he began to call upon them, beginning with the 48 members of the Michigan Prayer Caucus.
“There are a lot of Christians of all denominations in the Michigan Legislature and I began to visit them one at a time,” Dr. Mathis said. “I asked if they would be interested in a Bible study that would not take any extra time out of their day. And then I explained that they are exegetical Bible studies designed to aid spiritual growth and to encourage Legislative Leaders.”
Every person he asked said yes, including the Lt. Governor, 8 Senators and 10 Representatives.
“Every week I visit about 22 offices to deliver the Bible study,” Dr. Mathis said. “That means I get a chance from time to time to see them and talk with them. And at the beginning of this year I went back to all those who had been receiving the studies and asked if they had been helpful. I had very good responses.”
Most Public Servants said they listened regularly and some said they listened when they could. One Lawmaker said he listened to the Bible studies as he drove home and when he got home, he listened to them again. Another said he used the Bible studies as a basis for lessons in his own Sunday school class, and a staff person, who also receives studies, said after she listened to them she forwarded them to her daughter who is a military psychologist.
“I’ve also had Lawmakers ask me to come to their offices for prayer and I’ve had sit down conversations with some who have asked advice about the biblical perspective on various legislative proposals,” he said.
While Dr. Mathis is happy to discuss the biblical basis for decisions, he never advises Lawmakers on how they should vote.
“My ministry is not advocacy,” he said. “I’m not out to lobby for or against any kind of legislation. I am merely trying to put the word of God into their hands and I believe the Holy Spirit will lead them to the right decisions.”
Dr. Mathis is currently working on a website where the Bible studies can be downloaded in an MP3 format to provide wider access.
“My plan is to keep expanding that circle and putting more Bible studies into the hands of those who want them,” he said. “And hopefully, someday, that will result in the establishment of a permanent time when we can all get together face to face and study the Bible. One of the visions of Capitol Ministries is to touch everybody with God’s word.”
Dr. Mathis graduated from Wayland Baptist College (now University) in Plainview, Texas where he met and married Betty Sue. He attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, and upon graduation, served as campus minister and then associate pastor. He received a Doctorate of Ministry from Luther Rice Seminar in Lithonia, GA. For 36 years, Dr. Mathis served as pastor of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs, New Mexico. He and his wife have a son and a daughter and 11 grandchildren.
If you would like to join Dr. Mathis’ prayer team, and/or give to his ministry, you can contact him directly at: [email protected]