Almost Forty-nine years ago I was a 20 year old college student with no idea of what was about to happen in my life. I had achieved my dreams of becoming a professional skier, a professional singer and spent my summers with the United States Forest Service. I even attended church three times a week.
Then, the Holy Spirit of God began to work in my life. I had everything I wanted but was still strangely insecure and unfulfilled. A college minister travelling from California to Tennessee stopped in Gunnison for two days and spoke to the small campus group I was attending. His words revealed to me that I had “religion”, but not a living relationship with Jesus Christ. After much inner struggle I got off by myself and opened my heart to God; confessing to Him that I was a sinner and asking Him to forgive me on the basis of Jesus’ death in my place, and to take over my life. Over the next few days He showed me that He had heard my prayer. He had indeed saved me and had a definite plan for my life!
Now, after almost 50 years, I marvel at what He has done. He gave me the most wonderful wife a man could ever have, a help-mate, friend, and co-laborer. He has allowed us to help start churches which are still thriving, help equip many for service around the world, and travel to amazing places to share His glorious gospel. What a journey. He even sent me back to skiing and firefighting as a missionary!
Still, we feel we’ve just begun. As we start 2018 we feel the same calling and urgency we did in 1969. There are so many who haven’t heard the good news, so many still lost as we were. The new year gives us a chance to pause, reorient our lives and ministries, and refocus on our vision and mission. Our vison is “To know Him and to make Him known”. Our mission is to “Win One-Train One-Send One” into His service. Will you join us in prayer that the Holy Spirit will fill us with His love, power, and guidance? Thank you!
December was a month filled with a myriad of activities and blessings. Melva didn’t return from watching our grandson in Los Angeles until December 16th. The first half of the month I stayed busy working at the ski school, preaching, and trying to keep up with ministry paperwork. (And, of course, trying to wash 9 weeks of dirty dishes and clothes😊.) Once Melva returned I started a Bible study at the ski area for employees and became increasingly busy with Christmas services and the holiday rush at the ski area. The Lord was gracious and we saw many opportunities to share why “Jesus is the reason for the season”! On New Year’s Eve I had the privilege of praying with almost 100 of our ski school staff before we skied down in a torchlight parade. I’ve been asked to do this for over 40 winters!
Family: Melva and I are grateful for each of our children and grandchildren. We skyped on Christmas and felt as if we were “almost” all together. Joy-Stephen-Hannah-Bethan have been fighting illness in Scotland and would appreciate your prayers for healing. We know Steve-Annie-Samuel in Los Angeles, Tim-Sara in Los Angeles, and Nick and Rebekah in Edwards all appreciate your prayers for them as well! Thank You!
On December 23rd I received a text from a firefighting/ski patrol friend. Craig asked about attending our Christmas Eve service. He shared how he had come to realize he needed Jesus while working on the large forest-fires in California last month. A couple of chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team “just happened” to show up on his fire. After some conversation, they led Craig to Jesus. When he returned he made the effort to seek me out and begin attending our Saturday Evening Worship services. This past weekend Rick B, an old ski patrol friend of Craig’s who is now a missionary, and I baptized Craig! Please pray for his continued growth and for his family.
Saturday Nights: A wonderful blessing has been the spiritual growth of our Saturday Evening Worship group! We are studying God’s word, sharing our faith, and supporting missionaries! We “adopted” an underprivileged family for Christmas and went caroling at the nursing home. What a joy!
Upcoming: Lord willing, January 13th Melva and I meet with the board of the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys in Denver. February 1, I teach a fire class for the Crested Butte fire department. February 6th, we host a dinner for all the evangelical pastors and their wives from Gunnison, Crested Butte, Lake City and Saguache. We started these dinners several years ago with the dual purpose of providing a time for these faithful workers to get to know each other and to have a season of prayer for each other, our families, our ministries, our communities and our nation. Each year we host pastors from a dozen or more churches!
February 16-18, Melva and I have been invited to speak for a Christian Firefighter’s couple’s conference in Virginia. February 28-March 2, I help lead the worship for the High Ground Men’s Bible/ski retreat at Beaver Creek, CO. March 28, we share a chapel service at the Rock Solid High School in Littleton, CO. April 5th, is our Thank You Dinner in Colorado Springs, April 12 is our dinner in Dallas, April 14th is our luncheon and board meeting in Oklahoma City, and April 15-22 we hold services in Guthrie, OK. Please pray for each of these meetings, that Jesus would be exalted, that I would preach His word in the power of the Holy Spirit, and souls will be drawn to the Savior! Please plan to join us for any of these meetings if you can.
Finances: Once again the Lord allowed us to finish the year strong. A huge “Thank You” to each of you for being His instruments of blessings! For the third year we were able to send special gifts to a number of our “alumni missionaries” serving around the world. We encouraged them to put at least a part of what we sent into a retirement account. Sadly, many mission agencies don’t have adequate resources to set aside for their workers when they return.
Prayer Requests: For the Holy Spirit’s anointing as we share the “good news of a great joy” to as many as we can. For each of the upcoming meetings. For protection and health as I teach skiing and as we travel to share. For the Lord to provide a place near the campus for us to establish a Christian Center for our Bible Institute, library, and meetings. For the Lord to raise up someone to help us with Christ-centered administrative skills. Thank you for your prayers!!!
May the Lord Jesus draw you close and
give each of you a blessed New Year!
Rick and Melva
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Rick Barton Ministires