Merrill ThomasState Director, Rhode Island
Providence was named for God’s providence and yet, studies show that the city ranked nearly dead-last in church attendance, coming in at 98 out of 100 cities. But Thomas believes that is probably because people just don’t know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ; they haven’t been told. And so, in 2014, Thomas, a businessman and seasoned Bible teacher, began a discipleship Bible study to members of the Rhode Island Legislature. Senator Harold Metts, a strong believer and Bible study sponsor, invites his colleagues and every week, Thomas teaches them God’s Word, starting with the basics.
“We really see the Statehouse as a mission field. We are trying to get the good news out in a way that it can be heard. It is difficult in our state because we have some of the top un-churched cities in the country. We do not have a lot of people who have evangelical backgrounds. Government is God’s invention and what Lawmakers do is important. And some in government have a bad image of Christians. All they hear are negative things. We want to show that as Christians, we are regular people and that our church is ready to support the legislature and pray for them. Rather than do this in isolation, we are working with Capitol Ministries to reach out to our government in a way that we’ve never seen before.”