It was the summer of 1985 when a Michigan pastor, his wife and young children, knew things were about to change dramatically. They were moving from Southeast Michigan, moving from the church they had faithfully served for more than 12 years. This move would take them to Southern Utah where Tim and Joy Miles would become Tentmakers Bible Missions’ first missionaries.
While their former church was searching for a new pastor Tim and Joy would be searching for adequate family housing in St. George, Utah, for a meeting place to begin a new church plant, and for folks who might want to be part of what is now the thriving ministry of Southland Bible Church.
The decision to align with TBM as pioneer missionaries was not difficult. At that time most faith mission boards required each of its missionaries to serve extended internships before going to their field of service. Tim Miles had been a pastor for a dozen years and was eager to get under way with planting a church in the place God had clearly led his family. Those many years of pastoral ministry more than qualified as an internship. Tim and Joy were fully prepared to immediately engage in missionary work.
Thus the beginning of Tentmakers Bible Mission. This would be a new board that would allow Tim and Joy to proceed at once into ministry. It would also allow them to help support themselves with secular work (Acts 18:1-3) during the foundational stages of planting a church, a TBM distinctive.
This new board began when Tim’s father, Pastor John Miles, phoned a few men asking them to join him in starting TBM as a Michigan based mission agency, The first board members joining Pastor John Miles (who passed away in 2009) were Lew Buffinga, Keith Clinton, Elliott Anderson, Dr. Dan Clifford, Pastor Dick Manion and Pastor Jeff Manion. Handling the secretary-treasurer duties was Mrs. Carol Olexa, who rendered tireless volunteer hours in those start-up years of TBM.
That was then. Today, TBM has 70 missionaries on five continents, in 11 foreign countries while ministering in seven different States in the U.S.
Dick Manion was appointed the Mission’s first Executive Director in 1985. He served in that capacity until 2008, when Pastor Ron Thompson assumed those responsibilities. Dick now serves as Great Lakes Representative from his home in West Michigan.
From the beginning, TBM has served exclusively as a church planting Mission agency. Each of its missionaries engages in reaching the lost with the Gospel of Christ while establishing local Bible teaching churches, following the New Testament example of the Apostle Paul during his missionary journeys.
Additional TBM distinctives include the acceptance of qualified national missionaries and allowing its missionaries to receive 100% of support designated for their respective project. TBM does not assess its missionaries any administration fees for handling of their funds.
As the Mission grew, the base of operation moved from Michigan to Frisco, Colorado and finally to its present location in LaGrange, Wyoming.
Update. Pastor Tim Miles’ church, Southland Bible Church, graduated from the Mission a number of years ago and has since been the mother church to two additional church plants in Southwest Utah. Pastor Tim is on the TBM Board and is the TBM Field Director of Southern Utah/Nevada area.
Another of John Miles’ sons, Bruce, Pastor of Rocky Mountain Bible Church in Frisco, Colorado, is also on the TBM Board. His other son, Nelson, is the President of Frontier School of the Bible in LaGrange, Wyoming. And John’s daughter, Gloria and husband Bill Bagley, are TBM church planters in Preston, Idaho.