Pandemic, election turmoil, wildfires, all reasons to become anxious. But should we? I have never envied the prophet Jeremiah. The nation of Israel had turned away from God to false idols, and immorality. As far as I know, there was never a positive response to his messages from God. Yet, he kept the right perspective. In the Lamentations of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, Jeremiah says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV). Those verses have encouraged me for years. Every day we see new mercies and examples of His love to us!
This year has been challenging for all of us, but the Lord has let our ministry actually expand in many ways. Here’s a brief recap of 2020 ministry:
Ski Area Ministry: New Year’s Eve 2019 I was able to pray with 70 of our ski school staff before our torchlight parade down the mountain. (This year’s Torchlight was cancelled due to the virus.) We led a Bible study after work till the ski area was closed by the pandemic and have just started this season’s study. Our chapel service on the mountain is going great! We’ve had over 20 in attendance some weeks.
Evangelical Pastors and Wives Dinner: Before the pandemic hit, we were able to host 36 Christian workers and their wives for an evening of fellowship and prayer over a wonderful dinner. That opened the door for a monthly prayer lunch for the pastors. Please pray we’re able to hold this year’s dinner.
High Ground Men’s Bible/ski Retreat at Beaver Creek CO: The 2020 retreat was wonderful. Great speakers, fellowship and worship. For over 25 years I’ve had the privilege of helping lead worship for these men. Sadly, this year’s gathering has been cancelled over Covid concerns.
Out-of-Town Services: By God’s grace, we were able to hold services in Lake City, Pitkin, Tin Cup, and Westcliff (speaking at a men’s retreat) CO as well as Josephine TX and Guthrie OK. We are grateful for every opportunity to share God’s word!
Church Services in a Parking Lot: When indoor services were shut down, we moved outside to the True Value Hardware parking lot. It worked very well until shorter days and cooler temperatures forced us inside. In addition, Melva and I did a video of each week’s message and songs. Daniel Pennington of the Brushfire Coffee House graciously converted them into an email link which went out to folks who couldn’t attend the live services. These ended up going around the country and we’re still producing them.
Radio, Television and Zoom Interviews: This year I had the blessing of sharing God’s word on several radio programs for the Christian Trucker’s Network which is heard in over 50 countries. September 3rd -5th, I served as chaplain for the Cattlemen’s Days Rodeo. Since most rodeos had been cancelled, this one was televised nationally including my opening prayers. In December, I was invited to a Zoom call with fire chaplains from several states. They wanted to know about our providing fire and police New Testaments at no charge. I believe the Lord arranged all these and thank God for your prayers!
Forest Fire Ministry: Most of the summer I was unavailable for fire assignments because I had the privilege of doing six “Celebrations of Life” for local families. A fire assignment is for 14-16 days and these services were literally two weeks apart. However, things changed in September. On September 11 we held an outreach lunch for 1st Responders, on the 12th I led a memorial service for one of our “alumni” missionaries, and September 13, I left for the Lionshead Fire in Oregon where I was able to hold 2 chapel services as well as give away firefighter New Testaments. A week after I returned, I was dispatched to Ft. Collins, CO for the Cameron Peak Fire where I was able to give away more testaments and pray with co-workers.
1st Responder New Testaments and Devotionals: 2020 brought the opportunity to send out thousands more fire and police New Testaments and devotionals! Interest has increased as chaplains and churches around the country hear that we will provide these at no charge to them. Most of these chaplains are volunteers and have no budget to purchase them. Your prayers and support allow this to happen! Thank you!
Thanksgiving and Christmas, Carols and Gifts: Every year we seek out needy families that we can make Thanksgiving and Christmas special for, In the Name of Jesus. This year we were able to provide Thanksgiving meals as well as Christmas presents for five families. Another tradition is singing carols for the nursing home and assisted living facilities. Even though it was outside on a cold winter’s night, over 20 of us were able to sing of Jesus’ advent to appreciative residents.
Upcoming: Our calendar is obviously in “flex mode” with postponements and cancellations. Lord willing, we will celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary June 6, 2021! We hope to celebrate by spending time at the Billy Graham Training Center-The Cove-at the end of July and first part of August. I am scheduled to teach forest fire safety classes in Crested Butte and Gunnison in March where I will distribute New Testaments, and preach in Tin Cup in May. Please join us in praying that the Lord will guide our steps and schedule!
Finances: A huge THANK YOU to all of you who pray for us and provide financially to allow us to fulfill these ministries. Because of your support, we finished 2020 strong and are once again able to send out retirement support to 19 “alumni” missionaries and pastors who are currently serving. As you know, several years ago we became concerned that missionaries and pastors were retiring with little or no financial resources. We began sending a year-end check to help them establish retirement accounts.
Praises and Prayer Requests: We continue to hear of how the Lord is healing those you have prayed for, and how He is working through so many former members of our ministry. You have a vital part in all these lives! Please pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to be upon us as we share locally in church services, Bible studies and at the ski area. Please continue to pray for Dr. Gene Getz and Glenda Shammerhorn as they recover from serious illnesses. Pray for Gloria and the family of Ed Yates who recently joined our Savior in Heaven. Ed was a wonderful prayer warrior and friend for many years. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones”. (Psalm 116:15) We Love and Appreciate Each of You!
Rick and Melva Barton
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Rick Barton Ministires