Thanksgiving and Tragedy
“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” (Ps. 139:16)
October happenings: When I returned from the Lionshead Fire in Oregon (see October’s newsletter), I assumed my fire season was over. I was able to return to leading our Saturday Night worship services, catch up on some rest, and spend time with family. However, “the days that were ordained for me” by the Lord were different. After 2 weeks, I received a request from the same Incident Management Team to assist them on the Cameron Peak Fire outside of Fort Collins, CO. As you can imagine, most of our fire resources have been out so much that it is difficult to find enough workers to fill the roles. I was in a quandary; our fire dispatches are normally 16 days and I had a commitment not only to our Saturday Night service but also to preach at our host church the next weekend. I explained that if I came, I could only stay 6 days. They said “Come” and another wonderful ministry experience began!
During this fire I was assigned to visit 8 evacuation centers each day and give an update to folks who had been displaced by what had become the largest fire in Colorado history. Each day I had a “trainee” who assisted me. One, a recent college graduate began to ask questions about the Lord and I was able to share the plan of salvation with her as well as give a firefighter New Testament and devotional. The second, already a believer, told me that a member of her Glenwood Springs Fire Department had asked her to tell me that he still had the New Testament I had given him and was actively walking with the Lord! I was able to encourage and pray with other Christians serving with the Team. Your prayers undergird me as I go out and strengthen Melva while I’m gone. Thank You!
Tragedy: One day, our fire zone was completely overshadowed by smoke from a new fire which grew 100,000 acres in one night. Miraculously, our fire had suffered no fatalities and we were hoping the same would be true for the new fire. Then word came, an older couple had died. As details unfolded, the story became even more tragic. They had refused to evacuate. It seems they “cherished” their home and despite the pleas of family and Sheriff’s officers, went into their basement and perished. Immediately the verse came to mind, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). I thought, is there anything we “cherish” on this earth worth losing our soul? The fires of hell are coming closer every day. Many around us are perishing. Jesus offers us “evacuation” from sin and it’s punishment by turning from sin and coming to Him. Is there anything worth “neglecting so great a salvation”?
Finances: One of the blessings of serving Jesus is that where He guides, He truly provides! We have seen this in the midst of the pandemic. While some supporters have had to decrease their support, others have stepped into the gap. Every bill is paid. Thank You!
Upcoming: If the Lord allows, we will hold services at Abell Community Church north of Guthrie OK November 17-22. This is a wonderful fellowship of believers we have served with for nearly 30 years. The out-of-town calendar is clear after that until February with plenty of opportunities to serve locally.
Lord willing, Melva and I will travel to see our newest grandchild for a few days in Los Angeles. Of course, if the virus or California fires prevent this, we know the Lord has other plans.
Family: We are still unable to travel to Scotland ☹ but Stephen, Joy, Hannah and Bethan remain healthy and busy with school and work. (By the way, Hannah’s name means “undeserved gift” and Bethan’s name is Welsh and means “pledged to God”). Stephen’s preaching schedule has been limited because of the virus. Rebekah and Nick continue to adjust to life with little Kailani (18 months). The Lord has blessed their excellent restaurant, ZINO during this time. Steve, Annie, Samuel (3) and Abigail (1) are still with us but possibly heading back to CA soon. Tim, Sara, Elizabeth (2) and Sydney (2 months) are still staying close to home in LA. Please continue to pray for each of our children and their families, it means so much!
Prayer requests: Please pray that the anointing of the Holy Spirit will remain and increase upon us as we share the light and love of Jesus. Please pray for Diane Johnston, our “alumni” in Jackson MS as she recovers from medical issues. Please pray for our “alumni” missionaries as they continue to adapt and adjust to their roles either in country or out. Please pray for my co-worker Olivia who I shared the gospel with on the last fire. Please pray for wisdom as we seek the Lord’s choice for a co-worker.
Thanksgiving: One of our favorite “newer” songs is “10,000 Reasons”. There are 10,000 and more reasons for each of us to give thanks to our Lord Jesus, God-the-Father, and the Holy Spirit. Our salvation, the Holy Spirit being poured into our hearts, family, provision, and so much more! Would you pause right now and give our Lord a huge “Thank You” for all that He is as well as all He has done!
As we view the election results (we are a week away as I write this), we may be exhilarated or disappointed. But regardless of who comes out ahead, our God still reigns! He is sovereign in the affairs of men and women! Our trust can never be in man but solely in our Savior. We are to pray for those in leadership, good or bad (1 Timothy 2:1-3, the brutal emperor Nero was ruling when Paul wrote these words). It is prayer that will turn the hearts of our leaders to godliness and lead our nation in righteousness.
Our hearts are filled with Thanksgiving at the love of our Lord and our wonderful supporters,
God bless you!
Rick and Melva
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Rick Barton Ministires
PO Box 1155
Gunnison, CO 81230