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Wow! What a wonderful month! As most of you know, Melva and I celebrate 50 years of God’s Faithfulness to our ministry this year (and 48 years of marriage!). Our wonderful church family and Board encouraged us to take a month-long Sabbatical. We spent 10 days at the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina, 6 days at Southern Seminary in Louisville and 10 days at Glen Eyrie-the Navigators conference center near Colorado Springs. Thank you for praying for us!
Some of the Many Highlights:
The Cove: Along with abundant rest, we were able to meet with friends from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, sit in on a staff devotional, fellowship with workers, and minister to staff and visiting pastors. In Louisville, we were privileged to share at Lakewood Baptist Church, spend time with RBM board member Dr. Tim Beougher (Associate Dean of the Billy Graham School at Southern), the Reilly’s (a wonderful seminary student family), Dr. Robert Coleman (91 years young and still proclaiming Jesus), and visit the Ark and Creation Museum. At Glen Eyrie we had more rest along with hiking beautiful trails and taking photos of Big Horn sheep. In addition, we were able to visit friends and staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as well as Denver Seminary professors.
Is there Hope for the Church? One of the things we love to do is visit different churches as we travel. Usually it’s to speak, but it’s good to go in, unknown, and experience what God is doing in that particular church.
Near the Cove we visited a small Baptist church with one of the staff. It had several young families as well as seniors and we enjoyed it greatly. The next church was Lakewood Baptist in Louisville. It was a Sunday night service with a smaller turnout, possibly 30 or so, but again, a loving, generous church.
In Colorado Springs we visited First Presbyterian, a large downtown church. We had heard of how this church had resisted the liberal drift of many mainline churches. It was wonderful! The service we attended was the more traditional one. It featured a large choir and reciting of the Apostles Creed, followed by a strong biblical message and clear presentation of the gospel with an altar call. Our last Sunday we visited Calvary Worship Center (CWC) in Colorado Springs. CWC has 4 worship services every weekend with hundreds in each service. The 10 am service we attended was multi-generational, lots of families with children, and consisted of “Red-Brown-Yellow-Black and White” worshippers. Everything from tattoos to ties. Very welcoming and a wonderful message from God’s word with a clear call to come to Christ. Do we see hope for the church? Yes!!
As we head back into a full schedule of ministry, we feel physically and spiritually refreshed. Thank you for all your prayers and support that made this sabbatical possible!
What did we learn during our Sabbatical? First, I think we realized that we are not indispensable, there are gifted people who will step up and do as well or better than us. Melva says, “the hardest part for me was to relinquish, let go”. I agree. Second lesson, we need these times away. As one pastor texted us, “Don’t wait 26 years for the next one”! Third, it’s good to see what God is doing in other ministries, get fresh ideas, and a renewed vision. No earth-shaking decisions were made, mostly confirmation and sharper focus.
Divine Appointments: The day we arrived at the Cove we sensed His anointing. He led us to certain individuals at certain times to connect with. For example, one day as Melva and I were eating lunch, we had a burden for a man sitting by himself. As we prayed for him, he walked over and asked if he could talk with us. He was a pastor who had just been fired and was struggling. We were able to encourage and pray with him. In another town we “just happened” to meet a pastor we could refer a friend to. We “unexpectedly” met and prayed with FCA staff friends and “somehow” I met a man who moments later introduced me to the Provost/Dean of a seminary-right after I had prayed about teaching a seminary class. Hmmmm😊. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Upcoming: We conduct a Celebration of Life August 24th, help lead worship that night, and preach in Lake City CO Sunday the 25th. September 1, I preach in Tin Cup CO. We hold services at 1st Baptist Church in Delta CO (9/28-10/2) and Central Baptist Church in Crescent OK (11/3-6). Please pray for these services as well as our regular Saturday night services in Gunnison.
Family: Joy, Stephen, Hannah (9) and Bethan (7) are praying about a new ministry possibility in England. Rebekah, Nick and Kailani (6mo) continue to discover the joys of parenthood. Steve, Annie and Samuel (2) are preparing for #2 in November. Tim, Sara and Elizabeth (1) are doing well and hoping to come to Colorado for Thanksgiving.
Prayer Requests: Almost 50 years ago I shared the gospel with Soozie Reynolds. A few months later she gave her life to the Savior, went on CRU staff, married Rick Schneider and they have served in ministry around the world, and now at Yale University. Rick has developed very serious medical issues. The doctors don’t know if it’s Lyme disease or ALS. Please pray that the Lord will intervene with His healing touch. Please pray for son-in-law Stephen and the possible ministry position. Please pray for the anointing and boldness of the Holy Spirit to be upon us as we share. “3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…”. (Colossians 4:3a)
Finances: As we shared last month, we’ve been blessed to distribute more fire, police, and cowboy New Testaments than ever. As the Bible fund started to run low, more donations came in, and we are able to order more. Today I received another request from a chaplain in Texas. Your generous investment in the Lord’s work is paying dividends! “The generous man will be prosperous, he who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25)
In Memoriam: Our dear friend and faithful follower of Christ, Glen Gooch, joined our Savior last month. Please pray for Alta Faye and their family.
May the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with your all!” We love and appreciate you! Rick and Melva
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Rick Barton Ministires