COVID-19 closed the Iowa Capitol Building and temporarily interrupted Mark Doss’ new legislative Bible study when it was just three weeks old. But that misfortune has brought an unexpected opportunity for Pastor Doss to accelerate a long-term objective.
Before the highly-contagious virus caused a national shut-down earlier this year closing businesses, schools, and government buildings alike, attendance at Pastor Doss’ Bible study had been increasing every week from four to six persons.
The first week, Pastor Doss taught in Ephesians about God’s providence, the second week on the importance of prayer, and on the third week after he taught on God’s grace, the lights went out.
Pastor Doss had spent weeks before the legislative session began in January walking the halls, meeting, and getting to know representatives, senators, staff, lobbyists, and others who work at the capitol campus.
He found a Bible study sponsor, a representative who is a committed follower of Christ, to provide a meeting room every week. He had built a terrific momentum before an abrupt stop.
During the worse of the national shut-down, Pastor Doss maintained contact with the friends he met at the capitol. And one of them introduced him to two members of the executive branch of Iowa’s government who asked Pastor Doss to establish a study to them. He was excited; this had been one of his goals for the future.
A Bible study to the executive branch of government is always an aim of CapMin ministry leaders and is one of the most difficult to achieve.
“This had been a long-term objective, and the good news of this shut down is that this door has been opened,” Pastor Doss said.
It’s an opportunity he will be pursuing this summer. COVID-19 restrictions have eased, but the Iowa legislature is part-time and their 2020 session ended on June 14 and so Pastor Doss is keeping in touch in several ways until he begins his Bible study anew in January 2021.
He is continuing to visit the capitol regularly, make telephone calls, and visit legislators in their districts. He is also considering organizing a Zoom Bible study.
With a desire to build a thirst for the Word, Pastor Doss is also writing a daily devotional from the book of Psalm that he posts on the Capitol Ministries Iowa Facebook page. Topics have included persecution, the omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient characteristics of God, and the problems of pride, among many others.
Even though brief, the Bible study showed Pastor Doss the need for discipleship and Bible-teaching among public servants.
“In those three weeks, I saw such an excitement to focus on Scriptures and learn the Word,” he said. “I was so gratified to hear from committed Christians, ‘This makes my day!’ There is a real hunger for the Word of God and there are many people who are ready to explore getting to know Him.”
With a passion for evangelism, Pastor Doss recognizes that the COVID-19 crisis has opened opportunities to speak about the need for Christ.
Pastor Doss has many years of experience in ministry and is ordained as a pastor. He worked 24 years for the Evangelical Free Church of America (EV Free), beginning as a church planting missionary and rising to a regional administrative post. He left that position on September 30, 2019 and he joined with CapMin the next day on October 1.
While working with EV Free, Pastor Doss was a frequent visitor to the Iowa Capitol through a pastor outreach group in which he participated. Through that effort he was invited to attend a weekly Bible study led by a state senator where he met many legislators and staff. He continues to attend that study and those relationships are proving a strong foundation on which he is building his CapMin discipleship ministry.
With God’s leading, Pastor Doss hopes to create a Bible study every day of the work week for other groups including staff, lobbyists, and judges.
“My objective is to do what Capitol Ministries is all about, lead expository Bible studies that disciple so public servants are thinking Christlike and biblically in their lives and in their role as legislators and public servants,” he said.
“Apart from Jesus Christ we have no hope. That is part of the gospel message and that is the message that every person needs.
“And, too, how can a person determine right and wrong apart from God? When you get into philosophical discussions some people believe you can do that, but with my commitment to Christ and my biblical worldview, I cannot imagine people understanding right from wrong apart from the Bible and the gospel that is presented in it.”
If you would like to support or pray for Capitol Ministries in Iowa, learn more at capmin.org/iowa.