Editor’s note: We recently shared 10 Reasons You Should Study Ephesians with Keri Folmar. This study is the third Keri has put together for Cruciform (check out her other studies on Philippians and James).
We asked Keri to share some of her remarkable story with you—how she went from writing legislation in Washington D.C. to helping her husband, John, plant churches in Dubai. And that’s just the beginning!
John and I met at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC), while he was the legislative counsel for a Senator and I, was counsel for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution (I eventually became chief counsel of the Subcommittee).
We married on October 25, 1997. In fact, we were the first couple to meet and marry under Mark Dever’s leadership at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Now, there are so many couples who get married there that we like to tell them we got the ball rolling.
The following year we moved to North Carolina, where John worked for a law firm while I stayed at home. Our first daughter, Ruth, was born in August of 1998. We then moved to Louisville, where John attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and our daughter, Chloe, was born in 2000. Andrew was born in 2002, and then we moved back to D.C. in 2003 so that John could serve as an assistant pastor at CHBC.
Throughout our time in these various places, I have loved studying the Bible. It was a joy to start the women’s Bible studies at both Clifton Baptist Church (with Diane Schreiner) and CHBC (with Adrienne Lawrence, Eli Schmucker, and Deb Siler) so that we could think long and hard over the precious Word of God with other women.
Move to Dubai
While John was still in seminary, we received some prayer cards for unreached peoples. Every night at dinner we would pray with our kids for one of the peoples listed. These prayers—along with the encouragement and example of friends who were going to minister overseas—sparked our interest in the gospel going out to the nations.
While we were at CHBC, we went on a short-term trip to Central Asia. We became particularly excited about Muslims hearing the gospel, so we wanted to be a part of that work. However, it was also clear to us that John was called to preach—not plant churches in a different language. The year after we got back from that trip, I prayed every Tuesday (which was the day I regularly prayed for the nations) that God would send us. But my prayer basically went, “God, I know John is called to preach in English, so we won’t be going. But please send us overseas to share the gospel.”
We had no idea that English-speaking churches existed in the Muslim world. But later Mark Dever came home from a trip to Dubai and asked John if he would be interested in serving at the United Christian Church of Dubai (UCCD). This idea thrilled our hearts and we have never looked back. God has done much more than we ever dreamed (you can read more about our ministry in Dubai through this interview with The Gospel Coalition).
Bearing Fruit Throughout the Nations
When we arrived in Dubai, approximately 500 people attended UCCD. Since then by God’s grace, we have planted 3 other churches in the United Arab Emirates with over 700 people attending our church (including 450 members) from around 60 different countries.
But the spiritual growth is more exciting than the numerical growth. We have become self-consciously Reformed and gospel-centered with a passion for expositional preaching. Recently we baptized 14 people. They were from India, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Nigeria, Scotland, England, the U.S., Lebanon, and Ghana. That gives you a taste of the steady stream of conversions from a diversity of nations at UCCD.
Currently, our women’s Bible study has around 100 women participating. We meet in small groups and go through passages inductively, and then we join together in a room where we listen to expositional teaching. We have 12 small group leaders and 6 women who teach expositionally. Our leaders are from the U.S., Australia, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and India—and they are the sharpest women I know. God has been kind to us in our ministry in Dubai, and we would love for you to share in our rich experience of seeking God through His Word.