A Time To Review, Reflect and Realign: The New Year presents each of us an opportunity to look back at the previous year. To think about what went well and not so well. And, as necessary, change or refocus our lives and ministry. Melva and I ask ourselves, have we spent enough time with each other and with our family which stretches from California to Scotland? Did we stay focused on our vision “To know Him and to make Him known”, and our mission, to “Win One-Train One-Send One”? In many ways I think we can say we did, but in a few we still need to refocus.
December Happenings: December started with a special blessing as we were invited to share at Grace Fellowship in Lake City CO, 65 miles south of Gunnison. Grace grew from a Bible study Melva and I led for several years in the 1970’s. One of our “alumni” co-workers, Lyn Lampert, assumed leadership of the group and God built a wonderful church which has been active in discipleship and missions ever since! Then it was off to Denver to celebrate our nephew Owen’s graduation from Denver Seminary.
The following week we had the privilege of conducting a funeral for a long-time resident of Gunnison. Each funeral service is an opportunity to share God’s love and offer of salvation. Around the middle of December, the ski area began to ramp up with clinics and meetings. The last two weeks have been extremely busy with me teaching skiing every day but Christmas. I have had the blessing of sharing with students as well as fellow instructors. Thank you for your prayers for our health and endurance!
I was asked to conduct a Christmas Eve service for Trinity Baptist here in Gunnison. It was a last-minute request and I prayed the Lord would raise up helpers to make this more than a “one-man-show”. A dozen folks graciously stepped up and many who attended have told us they sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence in a wonderful way! Thank you for your prayers as we seek to be FAT, (Faithful-Available-Teachable), Christians.
Ski Area Ministry: In the first few weeks of the season one of our instructors suffered a season-ending injury. Two others on our staff, a young man and older woman, were diagnosed with cancer. These traumatic events have allowed us to show Jesus’ love through prayers, visits, and financial assistance. We held our first staff Bible study on the mountain this week with six in attendance. On New Year’s Eve I was blessed for the 40th year to lead over seventy of our ski school staff in prayer on top of the mountain before we skied down in a torchlight parade. This prayer always opens a conversation with instructors about the Lord during the season. Before we skied down, my bad knee began hurting, but I knew this was a ministry opportunity I didn’t want to miss. Thank you for your prayers for my health and safety in this part of our ministry!
Bibles: Last month we shared how the Lord allowed us to send over 1000 firefighter New Testaments to the Salvation Army Emergency Services as well as chaplains in Canada. This month we’ve already received a request for more fire and police New Testaments to be distributed in North Carolina and California. A special blessing is that some will be sent to Paradise CA, which experienced the terrible wildfires last fall! Please pray these will be used of God to bless many!
Family: Our family was able to join together Christmas Day over SKYPE, where we can see and talk to everyone at once. What a blessing! Stephen, Joy, Hannah and Bethan are doing well in Scotland with Stephen recovering from a bad cold enough to preach last weekend. Nick and Rebekah in Edwards, CO are preparing for their first child in early March. Steve, Annie and Samuel in Los Angeles are seeing the Lord’s hand as Samuel (19 months) becomes more and more of a blessing. Tim and Sara, also in Los Angeles, are experiencing the joy of watching Elizabeth (3 months) grow in so many ways. Thank you for your prayers for our family! Melva and I leave tomorrow for 8 days of rest and re-energizing in Branson, MO. This is been a part of our lives that we feel needs refocusing, taking time off to rest.
Upcoming: Lord willing: Melva and I will sing for an assisted living facility and visit friends in Branson. In February, I teach fire safety classes for the Gunnison and Crested Butte fire departments and give out New Testaments. On February 12 we host our 8th annual evangelical pastors and wives dinner and lead worship for the High Ground men’s Bible/ski retreat in Beaver Creek, CO (2/27-29). March 4th Rebekah and Nick’s baby is due. In April we will be holding our “Thank You Dinners” in Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs CO as well as Dallas and Oklahoma City (dates to be determined). Then, we hold revival services in Guthrie OK (4/28-5/5). We’ve been invited back to preach in Pitkin, CO (5/26), Tin Cup, CO (6/2,9) and Esterbrook, WY (6/16). Please pray that the Holy Spirit will move mightily!
Finances: “Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over--will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38). Melva and I continually see our Lord’s words come to life! Every time we give away New Testaments, the funds come in to replace them. Every time we help those around us in need, more gifts come in to replenish the account. As you know, all the offering from our Saturday Night worship service goes to missionaries. In addition, for the past several years we have sent a special year-end gift from RBM to our “alumni” missionaries and co-workers. This year we are sending out more gifts than ever before! Twenty-one servants of our Lord that we’ve had the privilege of co-laboring with. Workers in Kenya, China, Peru, Mexico, the USA and more! Campus workers, missionaries, children’s ministers, pastors of small churches and retired pastors. You are God’s provision in allowing us to do this! You are a wonderful part of every Bible given out, every meal provided and every gift given. We are your representatives in sharing the Lord’s blessings with others. Thank you for your faithful, prayerful support!
Prayer Requests: Joe Ricks, campus pastor, chaplain for the volunteer fire department and college football team was diagnosed with cancer over Christmas. Please pray for Joe, Angela and their four children for strength, healing and grace through this time. Please pray for a vehicle that will hold 6 for “alumni” missionaries Aaron and Andrea Taylor. Please pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit as we share this winter and spring; and for health and safety as I teach skiing. Thank You!
Save the Date: Thursday, June 20, we’re celebrating 50 years of God’s faithfulness to our ministry! It will be a day of celebration here in Gunnison followed by a dinner. We’d love to have you join us!
By His grace and to His glory, Rick and Melva Barton
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Rick Barton Ministires