In this time and season of our lives God has us ministering primarily in churches. After being full time missionaries for many years and then being involved in a great revival for several years in Pensacola, Florida that assignment was difficult to accept. I wrestled with the Lord about it for a long time, but then yielded to it, becoming not only obedient but willing. Some Christians struggle with the obedience part, but my challenge has always been with being willing. As a result, we were not eating the good of the land, but struggled, living hand to mouth and week to week. We’ve seen things begin to turn around when we finally got willing.
“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Is. 1:19).
Recently I started working on our latter part-of-the-year ministry itinerary. As I looked at my calendar I saw a lot of white space, meaning not too many confirmed meetings. In the traveling ministry there are spurts and there are lulls. It’s unsettling at times because we draw the larger portion of our finances from our road offerings, but throughout our many years of ministry both overseas and Stateside we’ve learned to trust the Lord. This is our life. When people choose to partner with us it really lightens the load. Most bonafide traveling ministries don’t live on a fixed salary like many pastors do.
As I went to the Lord in prayer concerning our second half of the year ministry schedule I asked Him to open new doors and ministry opportunities. We love to go to places we’ve never been because there’s not that familiarity factor that can sometimes be confining (think of Jesus’ own home town). My wife and I travel and minister together, and we want to be where the Lord wants us to be – whether with many or with few. We could hustle and fill our own calendar, but it’s so much better when the Lord orchestrates it.
Before the sun had set on this particular day, a pastor I’ve never heard of or met, messaged me and invited me to come to his church, which is a few states away from us. Then to top it off, he connected me with a friend of his that sets up other meetings for guest ministers that come to his area. I never asked him for one thing. He initiated it all. Before the week was over my wife and I had nearly one month’s worth of meetings in several churches in two different states. Praise God! We love when the Lord moves like that in answer to prayer. He is faithful. When God orchestrates meetings and connections like this, it is sweet, and it whets your appetite for more of His Divine leadings.
There are many things to attend to at home when we return from long road trips. There are affairs to settle and things to take care of, but we try to keep the main thing, the main thing. Prayer and the Word is the main thing. Once we lose that we’re ineffective.
In our small traveling ministry my wife and I wear most of the major hats including preaching, writing, budgeting, travel planning and scheduling, Web and PR/marketing strategy, and needless to say, most of the grunt work. We do outsource some of our work to 2-3 different people – mostly the technical kind of work. It is just challenging to carve out the time to really learn that aspect without other areas suffering lack, especially the spiritual.
As an example of our home life, after being on the road pretty consistently for the last two months I returned home and watched and cared for my aged Mom for an entire week while my bother and sister-in-law took a vacation. Carolyn had to spend some time in the ministry office and catch up on our finances – make bank deposits, pay bills, receipt our donors, work on our newsletter, etc. There was laundry to do, a house to clean, a car to maintenance, etc. – just your normal run-of-the-mill stuff.
At home is where I do most of my writing because it’s easier to focus. I continue to write blogs and articles weekly while regularly working on our travel schedule and corresponding with ministers and friends – some who look to us for fatherly counsel and encouragement, or many times just need a listening ear. We are not compensated for our writing. I’ve had friends ask me if Charisma magazine pays me for writing a weekly blog. The short answer is no, but they do give me a platform, which the Lord opened up for me. It’s an honor to do what we do full time, and we never want to take that for granted. But our agreement with the Lord is this: We pray, You pay. This is Your doing, not ours. You called us and sent us, not we. It really is that simple, and the Lord provides.
INVITATIONS TO CHURCHES
It’s much easier to receive invitations to minister than it is to initiate them. The traveling ministry is quite unique and delicate in this regard. Personally, it feels as though the motives of your heart are constantly under scrutiny.
A dear pastor friend of mine told me that he can tell pretty quickly if guest ministers are at his church for an offering, or to promote their own vision and ministry, or if they are really there with a true heart to minister to the people. One day when another nearby pastor called and offered to share his guest speaker with him, my friend obliged. After the service one or two ladies from the church cooked a big meal for the minister and his wife to eat, but they declined, telling them they needed to go. They got their offering and went on their way. Not good ethics as an unspoken sour taste was left in the mouth of those ladies and that pastor.
I have another good pastor friend who had a guest evangelist in his church one time who requested to receive his own offering. He regrets giving him that privilege as this evangelist milked the people and walked away with a very large offering. I don’t believe most ministers act this way, but a few bad apples puts that sour taste in many pastors’ mouths. Additionally, pastors are inundated with requests to help fund projects, programs, and schedule guest speakers. That can get old and wear someone down in a hurry. We try to be sensitive to that sort of thing. Carolyn and I are relational people. We love local pastors and churches as well as many missionaries around the world and the nations they serve.
We continue to work on our end of the year calendar and are starting to get into the first half of our 2018 itinerary. Let us know if you’d like us to come to your area. We’re sorry to say that we cannot honor all overseas invitations unless expenses are covered, or at least, equally shared. We trust you understand.
Finally, we’d like to thank every church and individual who sows into our ministry. We’d like to thank the churches who have invited us to minister to their people over the years and supported us as missionaries. We’d like to thank missionaries and international hosts who have invited us to their nations. We count it an honor to carry the Word of the Lord and to impart His Spirit and fire to those He sends us to. Our journey has always been marked with specific miracles and healings as well as supernatural moves of the Holy Spirit. The Lord continues to frequently give us a word of wisdom for nearly every church and place we go to, often with the demonstration of the Spirit.
Thank you for reading this far and for allowing us to share our hearts with you and what we do. I felt it was necessary for the many followers we have to understand what we do. Thank you for being a part of our lives and for all your love, prayers, and financial support.
NOTE: August is a vacation month for many Christians and churches, and next to the Christmas holidays, is one of our most challenging times financially. If our articles and/or this blog have been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider sowing a financial seed this month into our ministry to help us, or better yet, becoming a monthly partner? Thank you!