PRAISE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST! I HOPE THIS FINDS YOU AND YOURS ABUNDANTLY BLESSED! Wow! it has been a while since I have updated my website. It's not because we have no news to report, or that we have been idle in ministry!
We have been very busy since June trying to get our lives back to where we were before we went to New Orleans, La to help with the Hurricane Katrina effort on September 5th, 2005. I will try to capsulize what has happened since I last sent out a newsletter.
HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF
As most of you know, I had put my tent up at the relief center with the hopes of generating interest among the local Body of Christ in a 24/7 prayer center. I had a faithful few who responded to the call and who were diligent to be a part of that effort.
We primed that pump for 20 months, and had some wonderful times of worship, prayer and praise. Every night for approximately 20 months we had a service under the tent. During that 20 months, for six days a week, we had devotions under the tent where teams from all over the United States who came for the Katrina relief effort would begin their day by hearing the Word of God. And then every Sunday morning we had a service as well... GLORY! What a wonderful time that was! That was more than 575 consecutive days of services, 2 times a day, which adds up to more than 1150 services. To put that in perspective, most churches in America normally hold 156 services a year (figuring 2 services on Sunday, and a midweek service), and if you factor in a few weeks of "special meetings", you might be able to find some that hold 200 services a year. Most large churches that hold multiple services still just technically have just one service that is repeated a couple of times. So the typical church in America only holds approximately 250-300 2 hour services in a 20 month period. In other words, we were able to hold about 4-6 years worth of services in 20 month's time! I want to tell you that that regimen wasn't grievous at all...so many hours of one on one ministry occurred as a result of that time. I woud have to say it was one of the highlights of my years in ministry.
It was disappointing to realize that the majority of the pastors in New Orleans had no interest at the time in covering the city with 24/7 prayer (and that was the time when it was really needed), but it wasn't a surprise. One of the objects of prayer on my prayerwalk has been that men and women of God would respond to the true call of ministry, which is that of 24/7 availability for the flock of God, instead of clinging to the "ministry-is-my-job" mentality that has taken over so many American ministries. Many (certainly not all) pastors appear to have the idea that ministry is a 9-5 job with a salary and in some cases a retirement plan...Many evangelists and other "ministers" try to get speaking engagements to promote their ministry, and get some money in the process. I am not condemning anyone, but I don't believe that those who have been called by the Lord are meant to percieve ministry as being just another job, or a source of income. That would make them a hireling, which Jesus spoke against (John 10:12-13).
Concerning salaries, the laborer is worthy of his hire, but ministry should never be percieved as a way to "make money". We need to get out of the "church as a business" mindset and understand that ministry means to serve, not be served. It is such a wonderful privelege to be able to be there at any time day or night to help someone in their time of need. That's where Jesus was, and is and will always be, and that's where I want to be, where He is. Those who don't realize that are missing the whole purpose of their calling, and they should probably get honest and find a job!
1Co 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
FROM NEW ORLEANS TO MANSURA
After 20 months of Glorious ministry, we took the tent down and moved back up to central Louisiana where we had been before the storm. Pastor Chris Kelone of Cornerstone Ministries has blessed us by allowing us to park at his church while we get our vehicles fixed. Yes, while we were having 20 months of Glorious ministry, our motorhome and our bus that we left behind became homes for other occupants: rats, spiders, snakes, ants and cockroaches! As if that wasn't enough, the motorhome roof had some leaks, and so the same kind of mold and mildew we had encountered in the flooded homes in New Orleans had permeated the motorhome! It was hard to stay in there for much more than an hour at a time. But that wasn't the only problems we had...the rats had found the wires, and had a fun time picking random wires and chewing on them, so the motorhome wouldn't start, and I am very much electrically challenged!
Of course, the Lord our Provider knew that our motorhome was being occupied by vermin, and that it would be absolutely uninhabitable when we came back, so He provided a new home for us! Back in 1998, we had made some wonderful friends in Port Arthur Texas. They had gotten a rather sizable settlement from a terrible accident that had happened three years ago, and last November they blessed us with the resources to get a new home; a 2003 42 foot Dreams by Design Fifth Wheel trailer, with four slideouts, a bedroom with four bunks and two slideouts for the kids, and a master bedroom in the front with a slideout, as well as a long slideout in the living room! I tell everyone that it is Michelle's reward for 19 years of faithfulness to the ministry while raising seven children on the road! It's like a mansion to us! It even has a dishwasher and a washer and dryer!
Of course, the Lord our Provider knew that we would recieve a fifth wheel, so about six months prior to us getting the fifth wheel, and before we even had a clue that we would be getting a fifth wheel, He provided a Ford F250 diesel pickup through our brother in the Lord, Pastor Ralph Foster, and the membes of Bethel Temple in Port Arthur, Texas! GLORY! The pickup runs fine, and pulls the fifth wheel with relative ease! I just love how the Lord takes care of His children!
Michelle and Talitha made numerous trips out to the motorhome to clean out the inside. Lots of clothes and toys and stuff went straight to the garbage. I went out there several times to try to get the motorhome started, but I couldn't. One time we found a copperhead snake in the motorhome! Another day Michelle and Talitha found a snake skin that some large snake had shed in the bus. I had other challenges as well. Our Suburban's steering wheel and transmission was messed up (they were related...), and Talitha's Volkswagen Fastback broke down, and we worked on it for months trying to get it to run right. I am NOT a mechanic, but unless the Lord sends a talented mechanic our way, I always work on our vehicles because I can afford that kind of repair work. I didn't really get too shook up about it, though - I know that all things work together for Good for those who love God and are called according to his Purpose. He generally uses finances and/or mechanical issues to hold us in place until we are supposed to move. But finallly, one day I sent out a prayer request to my e-mail list, asking for prayer for wisdom concerning the mechanical issues. A brother in the Lord, Norm Steinruck from Florida called me and proposed to fly into New Orleans if I woud meet him at the airport. He said he would stay for a couple of days until we got up and running. I told him all he needed to do was tell me what wires I needed to start the motorhome. He told me it was the purple wire. Hallelujah!I got the motorhome started and moved it here to where we are. We got the bus fired up as well.
Of course, the Lord our Provider knew that the Suburban needed fixing, so He orchestrated a beautiful scenario. I was driving the Suburban to New Orlleans to go to the airport on my way to Israel, when the Suburban's transmission gave up shifting on me. I happened to be near to a fellow cross carrier's (Shawn Rice) house, so I called him and asked him if I could leave the Suburban there while I was in Israel. He said sure, and a few days after I got ack from Israel, he and his son Pete fixed the car for me. It was a ten dollar part that I needed! Thank You, Jesus!
Before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, Pastor Ralph Foster of Bethel Temple blessed me with an A.B. Dick offset printer. I always wanted a printer so I could do my own tracts, so that was a real blessing. The only problem was that I didn't have anywhere to put it. Ralph told me as long as I wanted it, he would hold on to it until I could get something to haul it in. Of course, the Lord Our Provider knew that I couldn't deal too well with that big piece of metal, so He used the circumstance of Hurricane Rita to get me a more efficient printer. He allowed a portion of the roof of the shed that the printer was in to blow off, drenching the printer, and turning it into rust! The insurance paid for a brand new Risograph printer that spits out about 130 copies a minute! I was able to store the printer in an upstairs room in the Church building at the relief center for about a month, until the Lord our Provider blessed us with a small class C motorhome through the generosity of Todd Bohn. I gutted it out and transformed it into a mobile printing office. Shortly after converted the motorhome, I was able to get a tract folder, a color laser jet printer, and three different kinds of book binding machines. I was blessed by the church we were working with, with a Paper cutter that cuts a ream of paper at a time. But the Lord our Provider wasn't through with us yet.
Hallelujah! I have to tell you that when we got up here, our old motorhome looked like a hopeless case. But as an evangelist and a pastor, I know that even hopeless cases can be redeemed. The Class C was a blessing, but it was small, and once we got the motorhome here to where we are parked, we began to seriously clean it out. Michelle and Talitha scoured it with Lysol and bleach and a multitude of other cleaning agents! I pressure washed the outside and repaired the roof. Then I started to convert it into my office. Hallelujah! We gave birth to three of our children in this motorhome, and it's got lots of memories. Although I still have quite a bit more to do, my office is up and running, and I have been able to print out lots of tracts and booklets on my Risograph. I have printed up several tracts for pastor Chris and have even been able to print him 500 "Statement of Faith" booklets for his ministry.