November 14, 2005
Dear Co-laborers In Christ,
In His love: As I write these words, it’s snowing in the Gunnison country. Melva and I just returned from ministry in OK and TX. Once again, we realize how much we have been blessed. God has surrounded us with the most wonderful folks this side of heaven. Thank you for loving us, praying for us and joining hands with us in God’s work. Thank you for your prayers as we travel. We covered over 15,000 miles this summer without an incident!
Hurricane duty #2: I returned to Mississippi for a second tour of duty Oct.7-27. My team was stationed at the Stennis Space Center and served in Bay St. Louis, Pearlington and Waveland, MS. This is where Hurricane Katrina came ashore with 20-30 foot storm surges. There are twenty-foot watermarks over 6 miles inland. The devastation was almost overwhelming, but the grace of God is truly sufficient. My job was to go through the most heavily damaged areas and help survivors keep updated from their county on where to find help, health hazards, etc. Everywhere I went I met wonderful Christians serving the Savior through serving others.
FEMA was unable to deal with the magnitude of destruction, and local governments had lost most of their buildings and equipment. Many emergency workers were vehicle-less and homeless. Churches and ministries responded with food, clothing, medical treatment and counseling. Baptists, Methodists, Samaritan’s Purse, and the Salvation Army were on scene to mention just a few. A Calvary Chapel/Horizon group from CA fed over 3000 meals a day and plans to help rebuild the homes of local police and fire personnel. The Calvary Chapel/Horizon and Samaritan’s Purse groups are committed to stay for a year rotating in volunteers!
A couple of churches in particular gripped my attention. Lakeshore Baptist of Bay St. Louis had their building and office destroyed. All its members had lost their homes and places of employment. Yet, they set up tables in the parking lot and began to collect and distribute food and clothing for their neighbors! Pastor Fred Fields of the Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in Pearlington spent every day in the distribution center helping the suffering, even though his home and church facility were gone as well. These are truly “Macedonian” churches from 2 Corinthians 8:1-4. They continued to give out of their deep affliction and poverty.
I had the privilege of holding 4 chapel services as well as giving away a number of firefighter New Testaments. With your help I was also able to provide cooking utensils and toys in the poorer neighborhoods.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes: Our leadership team felt the Lord was challenging us to collect money for Samaritan’s Purse’s relief work. We set a goal of $10 a person, which would bring in $700. One of our students quietly brought in a check for $1000! What is especially amazing is that this girl has suffered the loss of a runaway dad and has had to clean homes and buildings to pay bills and stay in school. Yet, she took her savings to help others! Needless to say, with students like this, the FCA ministry is going strong, both college and high school. Your prayers are being answered in wonderful ways. Please keep them up.
Family: Melva has recovered from her sickness and is busy substitute teaching and doing follow-up with Spanish speaking new believers. Joy and Stephen are loving Bible College in Scotland and planning a Christmas trip here. Rebekah is still working in Vail but praying over different career options. Please pray with her for God’s direction.
Steve has been asked to serve as a ministry assistant for a local church. He would direct their sound and lights, as well as work with contemporary music and even drama teams. It’s a part-time position, but very exciting since he will be using his gifts and passion. Please pray for him as well. Tim was spared from serious injury as he was riding his bike home late at night from work at BIOLA University. A car didn’t see him in the dark and pulled out from a stop light into him. Tim was taken to the hospital with a concussion and scrapes. He’s recovering and very grateful for your prayers. Me, I’m getting ready for ski season. I’ve developed some more knee and shoulder problems that eventually will need surgery. Please pray for healing and wisdom.
“Beggar to Beggar” continues to be used. I’ve received word that Southeastern Seminary is going to use my book for an evangelism course this spring. That makes the fourth school in addition to the Billy Graham folks. Praise the Lord.
Upcoming: Crested Butte opens Nov. 19th and I will start my 36th year of teaching skiing (31 at CB). On December 1st, I will take the Graduate Record Exam to prepare to enter a doctoral program. In January I hope to take my first class. I’m still struggling over whether to start a PhD or Doctor of Ministry program. The PhD will allow me to teach in more seminaries but would require leaving our present ministries. The DMin will be easier to accomplish while staying here but limit my seminary teaching options. This is the most I’ve ever struggled over knowing the Lord’s will and I really appreciate your prayers.
Finances: By the Lord’s grace and the faithfulness of each of you, we are ending the year strong! Thank you for continuing to stand with us!
Thanksgiving: As we pause as a nation and as families to give thanks, let us pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling. Whether they are in the Gulf Coast region, Iraq, Sudan, China, or in the pew next to us. We have sooooo much to be grateful for. Each of you is a wonderful blessing to Melva and I and our family. Thank you! You are loved!
In His grace and with much thanksgiving,
Rick and Melva Barton