OUR MINISTRY DEVELOPED
BE THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
WRITTEN IN 1999 - After Michelle and I got saved in 1983, the Lord
did some mighty things in our lives. There are many testimonies we have accumulated
since then, and though I revel in His grace, and mercy, and love to speak
of the wondrous things He has done in our lives, time and space would not
allow me the opportunity to speak of them all. But I want to give a testimony
of the circumstances that led us to the ministry the Lord has given us. My
prayer is that it blesses and encourages those who read it.
The reason I even want to include this account in
my site is not to boast in my accomplishments, but rather to show the reader
that you don't need a special degree or title or pledges for financial support
to minister in the service of the Lord.
Notice how I stumbled through each phase of the
development of the ministry. The Lord sustained me through it all. All He
requires is willingness and obedience. These two characteristics He will always
Over the years, I have been priveleged to pray one
on one with thousands to recieve Jesus. This is not to boast...truly, any
accomplshments I have had are from the Lord. I am not a great and eloquent
speaker, nor am I a scholar or a theologian. I only tell you this to encourage
you. If I can do it, ANYONE CAN DO IT! Just be obedient to the call of the
Lord in your life.
Our first six months
in the Lord Jesus Christ were spent in
Salt Lake City. There the Lord blessed us mightily, in teaching us to hear
His voice and to learn of His Love for us.
Circumstances eventually led to us losing our car
(it was parked in an alley for too many days, because the battery was dead
and it was impounded). As the wrecker was hooking up to the car, I tried to
talk the driver into unhooking the car, and I would move it somewhere else.
The driver told me he would, if I could pay him 50.00 for the hook up fee.
I didn't have the money. I had given up on the Highline
job I had gone there to work…I felt led of the Lord to quit the union, so
we were scraping by with spot jobs at job service, living basically from day
to day, and watching the Lord provide for us.
Our car was important to our work…no car meant no
work. It was February, and as we watched the tow truck pull the car away,
I walked to the apartment, asking the Lord, "Why?" Even at that young age
in the Lord, I didn't point a finger at Him, or wasn't angry with Him for
allowing that to happen…(I've had many people testify to me that they have
been angry at the Lord. I can't ever remember a time that I was…) I understand
that He is Sovereign, and my life is in His hands. So I wasn't angry…I was
just wondering why He allowed that to happen. It didn't make any sense to
me. Soon the rent would be due, it was February, and what would we do?
Once inside the apartment, Michelle and I prayed,
asking our Father to help us to understand. As we prayed, I opened the Bible.
When I opened the Bible, my eyes landed on Hebrews 10:34 (ASV):
For ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully the
spoiling of your possessions, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better
possession and an abiding one.
As I read that, Michelle and I started laughing
and joyfully took the spoiling of our old Vega.We were sure that the Lord
was up to something good. A few weeks later, we couldn't pay our rent, so
we loaded up my duffel bag and a pack sack, and left Salt Lake City, hitchhiking
towards California, but not knowing where we were going.
We knew that we would not ask any one for anything,
and that we would make our needs known only to God. Beyond that, we didn't
have a clue as to where we were going, and what we were going to do.
We hitchhiked for two months, during which time,
the Lord mightily blessed us with an awareness of His presence in our lives.
Every day brought a testimony of new levels of Faith that the Lord brought
us to. He gave us many opportunities to witness to whoever picked us up, and
we were always blessed.
I will relate just a couple of the incidents here,
just to give the reader an idea of the things we experienced.
TURTLES, WONDERFUL FRITTERS
We were in Auburn, California. We had left a lot
of things behind when we left Salt Lake City, but we brought what we could
with us, as well. This made for some heavy burdens on our back. I carried
the duffel bag, and Michelle carried the Back pack.
Our progress through town was at the pace of two
blocks at a time, then we would rest for ten minutes or so, and walk another
two blocks. As we made our way slowly through the town, we eventually came
to a bakery. In the window were all kinds of wonderful looking pastries. What
grabbed our attention was a sign that advertised apple fritters, two for a
The fritters looked huge. We hadn't eaten breakfast
yet, and both of us were hungry. We didn't have a dollar, not even fifty cents
- I think I counted out thirty-some cents - but we looked in that window and
talked about how great those fritters looked to us. Soon, though, we just
committed it to the Lord, and knew that we would not go hungry that day. But
as we walked away from the bakery, we couldn't help but talk about those fritters
and how good they looked.
A couple of blocks farther down the road, we found
a large brick planter outside a lawyer's office. A perfect place to rest.
As we sat there, we spoke some more about the fritters. Soon, we decided it
was time to go. As I started to help Michelle with her back pack, something
caught my eye.
There, right behind where I had
been sitting, was a crisp one dollar bill, folded lengthwise!
Our eyes got huge as we rejoiced in the Lord's provision.
I took the backpack off Michelle's back, and she ran to the bakery and bought
two apple fritters. As I said before, they were HUGE, and they were absolutely
delicious. Wonderful Jesus! Manna fritters. For the record…Michelle and I
occasionally buy apple fritters as a remembrance of the Lord's provision….we
have never found any fritters that were as good as those two we had that day.
Never once did we go without food when we needed
it. The Lord has always been faithful to supply our needs.
We got into Lake Tahoe early in the morning. As
we stood there in town, it started to snow. Big wet flakes came down. We had
a few dollars, so we went into a store and bought a couple of ponchos to keep
The Lord had enabled us to always have clean clothes;
we always were able to afford a laundromat when we needed one. But this day,
we were down to our last change of clean clothes, and we had spent our money
on the ponchos.
All day we stood there, trying to get a ride, but
to no avail. After several hours we started trying to analyze what the Lord
was doing. We knew He would never let us down…but we started eyeing the camp
grounds across the street, figuring we could pitch our tent if we had to,
and keep each other warm.
The issues we were talking about as we stood there,
was the fact that we needed a shower and we needed to wash our clothes. Never
once did we question whether God would come through for us…It was more like,
"what was he up to?" We figured that there was someone who the Lord wanted
us to tell about Him, but they hadn't gotten there yet.
From early in the morning, to about 5:00 that evening,
we stood in that spot, trying to get a ride. No one would stop. Finally, a
car stopped. The man in the car told us that he had seen us standing there
that morning. When he saw us still standing there, he knew he had to pick
us up. He was the director of a alcoholic recovery retreat, and he told us
that all of his cabins were vacant. We were welcome to stay the night if we
wanted to. He also told us that if we had any laundry we needed to do, there
was a washer and dryer in the cabin we would be staying in. Wonderful Jesus!
The man blessed us with a cabin, laundry facilities, showers, and a large
kettle of stew. We were blessed.
The next day he drove us to the out skirts of town.
He wasn't even out of sight when a car stopped to pick us up. The man and
woman who picked us up explained to us that there had been chain restrictions
the day before, and the restrictions had just been lifted. They told us they
were picking us up to help with the weight. As we rode, the Lord gave us a
great opportunity to witness to them of God's love and the need for Jesus
Christ in their lives. We were young Christians, and didn't really know a
lot, but the Lord used us on that ride to plant some wonderful seed. The man
an woman were thanking us when they let us out of the car. We were learning
that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called
according to His purpose.
Every day we had a testimony of the Lord working
in our lives. We were totally dependent on Him. He always came through for
OUT OF OUR COMFORT
We traveled for two months like that, and eventually
ended up in Arizona. We spent four years there. During that time, our two
oldest daughters, Talitha and Feather were born.
All of our children were born at home, and I have
been privileged and blessed to deliver them all. The majority of the time
we were in Chino Valley, Arizona, I worked as a carpenter. I also worked as
a concrete worker, and a landscaper while we were there. We were doing pretty
well for ourselves…we had all we needed, owned all that we had (no debt),
were settled in, and had a small trailer we called home.
Every morning for the three and a half years that
we spent in Chino Valley, (our first 6 months in Arizona we lived in the White
mountains) I would get up at 5:00, and study the Word of God before I went
to work at 7:00. I studied the Word every morning, seven days a week for the
three and a half years we were there, using Strong's concordance, Thayer's,
Vine's, and the Englishman's Concordance. On Saturdays and Sundays I would
spend several hours in the study of the Word. I had an insatiable hunger for
the Word of God.
One Sunday, I was sitting at the table, studying
God's Word, when He spoke to me. "What are you doing for me?" I was witnessing
to who ever I worked with. I was living a relatively clean life before the
Lord…and I told Him so. He asked again…"What are you doing for me." He quickened
my memory to the verse in Hebrews that says "without faith it is impossible
to please God….", and immediately, I remembered how totally dependant we were
on Him for those two months. He reminded me of all the wonderful things He
had done during that time.
We were aware that He provided for our needs, but
it wasn't the same any more. I was growing in knowledge of the things of God,
but where was I when it came to faith? I suddenly had a crazy thought. I looked
at my wife, and asked her: "Do you remember when we hitchhiked through California,
and how close we were to God, because we had to rely on Him for everything?"
She said she did. "Well, what would you say if we sold everything, got a bus,
and just traveled for Jesus, and let Him guide us where He wants us?"
Michelle said "If that's what the Lord wants, that's what we will do." So
it was settled. Now all we had to do was make sure this was of God and just
not my own idea. So I put it in God's hands.
Right here I want to give credit where credit is
due. Most women who have a home and two children and financial security would
cringe at the prospect of leaving all that for the uncertainties of life on
the road and in a 1949 Ford bus, at that! I have met many brothers who have
a call for evangelism, and who find much opposition from their wives when
it comes to going out on the streets just for an evening. So many people are
so into their comfort…that their service to God is dependent on convenience,
rather than motivated by a desire to please Him. In 11 years of being on the
road, I have never heard my wife complain of being on the road.
Later that day, we went out yard saling. We weren't
even looking for a bus, but we found one. It was a 1949 Ford. The man wanted
$800.00 for it. I bought it, and we had a yard sale of our own and sold most
of our stuff, and used the money to convert the bus. Some friends of ours,
Bob and Anette helped us build the bus. The last thing we did was put our
trailer up for sale. It sold in a week. We left shortly afterwards, having
no idea at all where we were going. We just threw ourselves in the arms of
our Father. We had no idea how long we were going to travel, (certainly, we
did not think we'd be at it for 11 years!) or even what our calling was…
On the back of the bus we painted a huge sign that
said "faithwalkin' ". We painted several scriptures in various easy to read
places. We were leaving our city, not knowing where we would end up. We made
a covenant with the Lord that we would let no one know of our needs, and I
would work with my own two hands to supply our needs. The Lord would have
to supply the work as we travelled.
FATHER DRAW THEM....
Talitha was 2, and Feather was almost 1 at the time.
There are so many testimonies I could share…God is faithful. Many people would
approach me, curious about the bus. There aren't too many 1949s out there
these days. They'd want to look at the old flathead engine. Each time this
would open a door for me to witness to them, and tell them about Jesus. I
was leading people to the Lord , and still did not realize my calling. Others
would approach us because of the scriptures that were written on the bus.
I began to think that the Lord intended me to witness
to the ones who approached me, which were a lot of people…I had no inclination
to "go out" to witness to people. I was leading many to the Lord just through
them coming to me. I had the faith to believe each one was a divine appointment,
and that the Lord was drawing them into His kingdom.
About three months after we left Arizona, we were
in Sydney Nebraska. My dad was dying of colon cancer in Salt Lake City. It
was winter, and the mountains between him and us were treacherous, and the
brakes on the bus were not the greatest. But I wanted my Dad to see his grand
daughters before he passed into Glory. We sought the Lord. That night I dreamed
that I was telling a friend of mine about Jesus. Michelle also dreamed that
she was telling a friend of hers about Jesus. Both of our friends who were
in our dreams lived in Florida. We took that as the direction from the Lord
that we had been seeking…So we started for Florida. It took us seven years
to get to Florida. We lived in the '49 for one year.
TRAINING FOR THE PULPIT
We wintered in Lincoln, Nebraska, parked at the
People's City Mission, while I worked for a construction company as a tender
for some brick layers. One evening, I told my wife that I felt that I could
relate to the homeless guys better than the people who came in to minister
at the chapel services every night, BECAUSE WE WERE WHERE THEY WERE AT...AT
I told her that I would like the opportunity to
preach to them. She told me she was sure that if I mentioned it to the workers
there, they would probably give me an opportunity to preach in the chapel
some night. I told her that I didn't want to make anything happen. If the
Lord wanted me to share to the men, He would open the door for me to do so.
That way I could know I was in His Will. Two days later, Anita McCracken told
me that a person who was scheduled to preach had cancelled, and that they
needed someone to preach that night. She asked me if I would. I said "sure".
She said the only catch was that chapel was in 15 minutes, so I would have
no time to prepare. I threw myself in the arms of my Father, and He mightily
That whole month of February people kept on canceling
their appointments. I probably preached 20 days out of that month. The Lord
was training me for pulpit ministry.
Since then I have committed my ways to the Lord,
and have made it an unswerving policy not to open any doors myself, but to
walk through the ones that the Lord opens.
My mother came down to Lincoln to visit us, and
Michelle went with her back to Minnesota for a week to visit relatives. While
she was up there, she stopped in to see Lonnie Lee, a pastor friend of ours.
(see my testimony). When she went to his house, Lonnie was praying to the
Lord, asking Him what he should do about a bus he had. When he opened the
door to his house, and saw Michelle, he knew the Lord had given him the answer.
He asked Michelle how our bus was doing. The '49 was losing power. I got stopped
on the freeway once for going too slow! She said it wasn't doing too well,
but it would get us where we needed to go. Lonnie told her we could have his
bus if we drove up to get it. A couple of months later, we went to Northern
Minnesota, and our bus died just as we got to my home town, Margie.
We spent a year and a half there, building our new
bus, and making it livable. The following spring we left Margie to continue
our trek to Florida. But first, we went to Warroad, Minnesota, and spent about
a month up there, ministering in the way the Lord had taught me, letting people
come to the bus for ministry.
In St. Cloud Minnesota, a sister in the Lord named
Betty Reardon told me that my calling was that of an evangelist. I never realized
that, ALTHOUGH BY THAT TIME I HAD LED LOTS OF PEOPLE TO THE LORD. She asked
me if I ever handed out tracts, I told her that I let the Lord bring people
to me. She gave me a box of tracts, and told me to try it some time. Eventually,
I did, and ended up discovering a whole new dimension in the ministry the
Lord had called me to. We were in St. Cloud for about six months.
The Lord blessed me abundantly in the tract ministry.
We spent about two months in Austin Minnesota, a few months in Osage, Iowa,
at a ministry called Rennaisance - a Christian community given to ministering
to ministers - and about eight months in Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The Lord literally gave me the streets in Waterloo,
Iowa…it seemed like every person I spoke to was open and receptive to the
things of God. I got to lead many people to the Lord and out of the grasp
of Satan each time I went out on the streets.
Elijah was born there in our bus on the job site.
He just turned 7 in June of '99.
I had spent about four years on the road, ministering
one-on-one to people with no one but Jesus to show me the ropes. Don't get
me wrong…Jesus is the perfect teacher but sometimes it got pretty frustrating,
as I would begin to get the "Elijah Syndrome" (Lord, I'm the only one that's
out here, serving you). I never met another street evangelist in all that
Actually, I wasn't even sure that there was such
a person. I would meet a lot of people who told me they wanted to go out on
the streets with me…but I never had any one actually go, with the exception
of my brothers and sisters at Renaissance when they came down to Waterloo
to work the streets with me a couple of times.
Then we got to Chattanooga. There are so many testimonies
that could be included in each one of these sections, but the purpose of this
is to just let the reader get a general idea of how we have gotten to the
place that we are at now. I ended up working in Chattanooga with a Christian
plumbing company, "Mainline Plumbing". For two and a half years we worked
there, and it was an ideal situation…They understood and honored my calling
as an evangelist, so when the Lord would quicken me to go preach somewhere,
they backed me up in it.
In Cleveland, Tennessee, we found a wonderful church
which we call "home", Living
Word Fellowship,on Old Tasso Road. If you are ever in that area,
visit them. Pastor Larry and his wife, LaVonna are wonderful ministers of
the Lord's grace.
Grace Elizabeth was born Birchwood, Tennessee, in
our bus. I first started open air preaching at the abortion clinic in Chattanooga.
The Lord teamed me up with a precious brother who carried a cross as part
of his ministry. Mike Siemer and I became regular partners in ministry for
the two and a half years we were in Tennessee.
He was already an open air preacher…I was better
at one on one. But as I ministered at the abortion clinic, I got more and
more confident to preach on the streets. Soon I was sharing the Microphone
with Mike on the streets. I was convinced that I wouldn't ever carry a cross
like Mike did. It seemed so impractical. I liked the freedom of being able
to go freely from person to person.
I wrote my first tract there...I found a brother
that would print them inexpensively, and had ten thousand printed up.
So far I have passed out some where around 50,000
of that tract. I just got another shipment of 26,000...they should last me
for a few months...
Eventually we left Tennessee, and finally headed
UP YOUR CROSS DAILY…
We ended up in Crystal River, Florida. I was at
a Bible Study shortly after we got there, and the Lord spoke to my heart that
this would be the place to build a cross. This was not like the cities I was
used to…there were no places where there was a lot of foot traffic, where
I could pass out tracts. A visual form of evangelism would work here.
Naturally, I had to let Mike know...I knew he would
get a kick out of it, since I had said I would never do that kind of ministry.
On the way to the lumber company the next day, I figured I would stop at the
mall and call Mike and let him know. As I was getting close to the mall,
I saw a man walking down the road, carrying a cross!
Wonderful Jesus! Talk about confirmation!
When I spoke to Mike on
the phone, I told him what I was going to do, and what I saw. Mike said that
he knew the guy, and that I should go to meet him. I did, and Brian O'Connell
and I became good friends and co-laborers together.
FULL TIME SERVICE
Shortly after I built my cross, the
Lord spoke to my heart again, and I asked my wife to make a robe for me. The
purpose of the robe was never to imitate Jesus, although many people think
that when they see me. The robe was a prophetic tool. To the Christians that
stop, I tell them that the Lord is coming for a spotless bride. In Revelation
19:7-8, we are told that the Lamb's bride
is dressed in white linen, and the white linen represents the righteousness
of the saints. The Word to Christ's bride is to get ready.
Then again, wearing the white robe
also serves another purpose. When people see me, whether their reaction is
negative or poswitive, there is no doubt that they think of Jesus. Even if
they say "Look at that nut! Who does he think he is, Jesus?" They
have still thought about Jesus. It doesn't matter what people think of me...that
they think aout Jesus is important.
One day I was walking in Crystal River,
and the Lord mightily blessed me with lots of opportunities to minister. Then
He spoke to my heart, and said "You can do this all the way to California."
When I shared it with Michelle, she told me if that was what the Lord wanted,
we would do it.
The Lord opened a lot of doors, and
in August of '96, we left on our journey "crosscountry". For the
past three years He has blessed us with being able to minister full time.
Our bus broke down in Mobile, Alabama.
The Lord blessed us with a nice motorhome a short time later...He moved a
brother and sister in Christ to buy a 35 foot 1988 Allegro for us. He is our
Provider. If He calls us to a work He will see that it prospers. Not for our
own selfish needs, but so the work can go on.
Before we left, the Lord laid down
1) As usual, we would never let anyone
know our needs, other than God.
2) I would accept no money from anyone
while I was ministering on the streets, unless the person wishing to bless
me said "the Lord told me to give this to you." That way I would
be blameless in the eyes of the world.
Some people have not understood this,
but one particular testimony may explain it.
I was in Panama City Beach, and a man
came up to me as I was carrying the cross, and pulled out a wad of money,
and tried to give it to me. I refused it, telling him I wasn't interested
in his money, but in the well being of his soul. He insisted I take the money,
and I just kept on refusing. He would say, "well, how do you survive?
Everyone needs money to live." I told him that my God provides for me.
He said "Oh, you mean you have a church that supports you?" I told
him no. He kept on insisting that I take the money, but I wouldn't. Finally,
he pocketed his money, and listened as I ministered the gospel to him for
about 45 minutes. Before he left, he told me that he believed everything I
said was true, because I had refused his money.
So many people think Christianity is
about money because there have been those who have preached a gospel of greed.
The Lord has told me to be blameless in this area. I have had many other people
who had the same reaction as this man.
I have turned hundreds of dollars down...on
three or four different occasions I have refused to accept hundred dollar
bills. Each time it has resulted in awesome ministry opportunities. The Lord
provides amply enough for us.
3) We are to walk through every town
along highway 90. This is not a marathon walk. I don't walk in between the
towns...I walk through the towns, covering every major street, doing prayer
warfare as I walk, and ministering to everyone who happens along my way. Just
as it took us 7 years to get to Florida, once the Lord told us to go there,
so far it has taken us three years, and we haven't even made it half way.
We have started ministries, trained up others in the area of evangelism, and
seen many people ask Jesus into their heart.
4) ACCOUNTABILITY IS IMPORTANT. In
every town I minister, I bring myself under the authority of a local pastor.
Rebelliousness is a problem in the church today...too many people have the
attitude that they do not have to be accountable to any one. But there is
an order in the things of God.
AGAIN, I WROTE ALL OF THIS FOR ONE
EXPRESS REASON...IN THE HOPES THAT IT ENCOURAGES OTHERS WHO HAVE WONDERED
WHERE THEY FIT IN WITH GOD'S PLAN. SO MANY PEOPLE THINK THEY NEED A SEMINARY
DEGREE, OR A LICENSE OR RECOGNITION IN ORDER TO MINISTER. JOE CHRISTIAN HAS
BASICALLY BEEN CONTENT TO LEAVE "THE WORK OF THE LORD" TO THOSE
WITH TITLES OR DEGREES. IF YOU ARE WILLING, THE LORD WILL BLESS YOU AND USE
YOU FOR THE FURTHERANCE OF HIS KINGDOM.
I BELIEVE GOD GAVE ME A WORD FOR THE
CHURCH A FEW YEARS AGO... THE WORD WAS THIS:
IS THE DAY OF THE LAY MAN. NO LONGER IS CHRISTIANITY TO BE A PULPIT TO PEW
RELATIONSHIP...IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE THAT. THE WORD OF GOD SAYS THAT
HE HAS MADE US ALL KINGS AND PRIESTS, AND WE ARE TO SIT AND RULE IN THE HEAVENLY
PLACES IN CHRIST. THE FUNCTION OF THE PASTORS AND THE EVANGELISTS AND THE
TEACHERS, THE APOSTLES AND THE PROPHETS IS TO EQUIP THE SAINTS SO THAT THEY,
TOO CAN BECOME PASTORS, OR EVANGELISTS, OR TEACHERS, OR APOSTLES OR PROPHETS.
PASTORS HAVE LORDED IT OVER THEIR FLOCKS, CONCERNED MORE WITH RETAINING AND
BUILDING THEIR NUMBERS THAN WITH SENDING THEIR PEOPLE OUT. IT IS TIME FOR
THE LAY MAN TO ARISE AND TO REALIZE THEIR CALLING. GOD HAS GIVEN EACH ONE
OF US GIFTS SO THAT WE CAN FURTHER HIS KINGDOM. IT'S NOT IN OUR NAME, AND
WHAT WE HAVE DONE, NOR IS IT IN OUR MINISTRY AND HOW INFLUENTIAL WE ARE...IT
IS ALL IN JESUS, AND THAT HIS KINGDOM WOULD BE ESTABLISHED ON EARTH, AS IT
IS IN HEAVEN.
MAN WHO IS CONTENT WITH SITTING IN HIS PEW IS LIKE THE SLOTHFUL AND EVIL SERVANT
WHO BURIED HIS TALENT IN THE GROUND, INSTEAD OF INVESTING IT TO FURTHER HIS
WHO CONDONES THE COMPLACENCY OF THE PEW SITTER IS LIKE THE PHARISEE WHO LOVES
THE CHIEF PLACES, AND WHO MAKES HIS PRAYERS TO BE HEARD OF MEN...
THESE PEOPLE ARE IN A TERRIBLE POSITION.
IS SHORT. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND. THE HARVEST IS RIPE. IT'S PAST TIME
TO GET BUSY."
THE LORD RICHLY BLESSES YOU AS YOU SEEK HIS FACE FOR DIRECTION IN THE MINISTRY
HE WOULD HAVE FOR YOU...
6519 Ool-Georgetown Rd
Ooltewah , TN 37363
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