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APRIL 1, 2004
Great News Update!


Dear Co-Workers in Christ,

As expected, I have been asked to take Billy Graham’s place in all upcoming Crusades effective immediately. Franklin has agreed to step aside and will assist in handling public relations and providing soft drink concessions….. Ok, look at the date again.

I send you greetings from that wonderful part of the country where we have all four seasons, sometimes in the same day. It’s been sunny, windy, snowy and raining today. A great day to catch up on paperwork.

Health Update: As I shared a while back, I was struggling with fatigue and illness. Well, thanks to your prayers and God’s touch, I have my voice back to full strength after four weeks, and my energy is slowly returning. I finished the ski season earlier than normal to rest and recover. Thanks for your faithful prayers for each of us.

Ski Season: Overall, it was another great year for ministry on the hill. Although business remains down, I was fortunate enough to stay pretty busy. A few highlights include the annual prayer I give on top of the mountain New Year’s Eve with 100 or so instructors; the Bible study each week after skiing (where for the first time a Club Med instructor became active, and where an acknowledged agnostic instructor finally sat in and began to ask questions); and, seeing an instructor reading the copy of “Mere Christianity” that I had given him last season.

But, let me share with you about two families I skied with my last week. The first was a family I skied with five years ago. The husband, a physician, had been diagnosed with terminal leukemia. He had relinquished his practice and was in effect living week to week. I skied with he and his family, pausing often as he fought the effects of his treatments. We prayed together and I even asked you to pray for him in one of our newsletters. Well, the gist of the matter is, he is in full remission today, back practicing medicine, and growing in Christ!

The other family was one I met three years ago. During a lesson, the husband and I had sat on the deck of the Paradise Warming House. He looked at me and said, “Rick, I don’t know Jesus like you do.” I had the privilege of sharing the plan of salvation with this man, who, at one point in his life, had considered becoming a priest. We prayed and he received Jesus as his Savior and Lord. Now, three years later, he came back with his family. As I skied with him, his high school daughter and her boyfriend, we were able to talk non-stop about Jesus, the Bible and a daily walk with the Savior!

College Ministry: This week our “called to the ministry” group numbered 13 students! What a joy to hear these young men and women share their hearts and visions for ministry. During each session we share testimonies and prayer requests, breakfast, and then a time of study in the word. This week’s topic was “eternal judgment”. A local Jehovah Witness leader, (a cult that denies the deity of Jesus, doesn’t believe in hell and teaches that only 144,000 people can go to heaven) sat behind us in the restaurant. He listened intently as we studied the verses that showed the existence of hell and the assurance of heaven for the Christian. He even heard one of the students share how he had been able to show a JW friend the truth of God’s word. This cult leader was rattled and came over to our table and tried to argue his case. The students saw firsthand how sadly deceived he was.

Our main meetings are still running 40-60 students and seeing great maturity and outreach. Your prayers and financial support allows us to minister to these students. The cost of this part of our ministry has grown with the opportunities and now averages $500 a month.

Smoke from last summer’s fire season: I have received several emails this winter from firefighters I shared Jesus with last summer. A “Hot Shot” superintendent said that our prayer time on an OR fire was the highlight of his summer. A Battalion Chief from CA asked for 20 firefighter New Testaments to give away. And, a college student from WY wrote to tell how our chapel service and the firefighter Bible we gave him strengthened him throughout the summer fires. Your prayers and support allows us to do this ministry!

Current and upcoming: In addition to our college and ski ministry, this winter has been filled with preaching in local churches, singing for the Gideons and assisted living center, and teaching fire classes for the Forest Service and Volunteer Fire Dept. On Good Friday, Melva and I begin a five-week preaching and teaching swing through KS, OK, TN and CA. Please remember us in prayer as we share God’s glorious Good News!

Family News: Joy and her husband Stephen are doing well in England. Stephen continues with his ministry training and is preaching and speaking more. Rebekah is in Vail, CO working and reaching out to several of her friends for Christ. Steve is finishing up his junior year at Indiana Wesleyan University. Tim is finishing his sophomore year at BIOLA University in Los Angeles. Melva has been asked to serve as the Executive Secretary for an upcoming Billy Graham Crusade (Ralph Bell, Billy’s top associate evangelist is coming to Gunnison in the fall!) and I have been asked to serve on the board as well.

 

Special Opportunities: Steve, our 24-year-old son, has been asked to serve with Kingdom Builders Ministry this summer. He will be a videographer to document their training and outreach programs around the world, even traveling to China for a few weeks! This will also serve as his internship for his degree in Mass Communications. Steve needs to raise $3500 in support for this venture. Please ask the Lord to provide these finances.

Another opportunity is the Billy Graham/Ralph Bell Crusade. This has the potential to impact thousands in Western Colorado for Christ. It is a large financial undertaking (approximately $500,000, of which the Graham organization has pledged the first $150,000). If you feel led to be a part of supporting either or both of these causes, please note so on your donation (i.e. For Steve Barton or For Billy Graham Crusade). Gifts of any size will be appreciated and put to work.

Wrapping Up: In Luke 10:1-2, Jesus said that the harvest is ready but the laborers are few. Then He instructed us to pray for the Father to thrust out more workers into His harvest. We are surrounded by opportunities to train and send out workers as never before. We need your help. Please pray for each of us as often as you can. Pray for His Holy Spirit’s anointing, wisdom, strength, and for protection from the enemy’s traps. And, please pray that the finances will keep up with the opportunities. Thank You Sooooo Much!

YOU ARE LOVED!!!

 

Rick Barton Ministries • 401 Ute Lane Gunnison, CO 81230 • barton@gunnison.com • (970) 641-3583