Rick Barton Ministries, P.O. Box 1155, Gunnison, CO 81230, 970-209-8006 (C) 970-641-3583 (H)
How Wonderful Love Is!
Happy Valentine's Day! "I love you Rick" my co-worker from Crested Butte said. That was a shock! This man had ridiculed my faith in the past and even told me that his "god" was golf! Yet now, in a rare moment he opened up after I shared a part of my testimony at a ski area dinner. Melva and I were deeply touched.
Do you ever pause to think how wonderful it is to be loved, and to love someone? I think of how much I still love Melva after 42 years, I think of how grateful the Townsends and we are to be loved by you who pray for and support us. And then, more and more, I think of how much God loves us. Romans 5:8 keeps coming back to me; "But God demonstrated His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." How can I ever grasp that kind of love, how can I ever repay it? It seems the only thing I can do is receive it, give Him thanks, and then "pay it forward" to the next person.
January: The month started with the privilege of praying with 100 of our ski school staff on top of Crested Butte Mountain before skiing down in a torchlight parade. Then, I was wonderfully busy teaching skiing before slipping down to Denver Seminary to work on my Doctor of Ministry program. Even though I'm getting my degree through Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, I can get a lot done in the Denver library without the cost of travelling to Louisville. We also had the privilege of preaching at Harvest Bible Church in Elizabeth, CO. What a wonderful church family led by Pastor Walt and Connie Rogers.
While we were in Denver we received a call from the nursing home in Gunnison. My 87 year old mother was having a rough time. That began a series of trips in and out of the hospital. It seems her time with us may be short. We're thankful she isn't in pain and has a positive attitude that has blessed all those around.
We've resumed our West Elk Bible Institute classes and are blessed to have a great group of students who are anxious to learn. Our Saturday Evening Worship services have started to grow again and we see the Lord doing wonderful things in the lives of the attendees. We've begun to study 1 Corinthians, having finished the book of James. And, we had 19 men from four churches attend our monthly men's breakfast.
Upcoming: Lord willing, I preach at Trinity Baptist in Gunnison on February 2nd, then Redeemer Temple in Denver on February 23rd. February 26-28 I help lead worship for the High Ground men's Bible/ski retreat in Beaver Creek, CO, along with our normal ministries. Please pray for the Lord's anointing as we travel and share. I will be teaching fire safety classes for the Gunnison and Crested Butte Fire Departments as well.
On March 7th we host our annual dinner for evangelical pastors and their wives. This is an event Rich and I started last year to help pastors and their wives from Gunnison, Lake City and Crested Butte to get to know each other and pray for one another. Last year's dinner was a huge blessing with 21 in attendance. Please pray for this year's gathering. Your support helps us sponsor this time of building unity in Christ's church. Thank You!
Rich and Shelba: Shelba has had a good month while waiting for her trip to National Jewish hospital in Denver. Please pray as she undergoes a week of intensive pulmonary tests. Even though she has been limited in being able to go out in public, she has helped in many ministry areas. Rich has been busy preaching and organizing several upcoming programs as well as the Bible Institute. Update on Shelba, she has been diagnosed with a difficult form of pneumonia and is undergoing treatment. Please keep praying!
Family: Stephen and Joy (Hannah and Bethan) continue doing well in Scotland. Stephen has been asked to preach in an increasing number of churches, Joy is helping out at their church and both girls are spending half-days in pre-school. Recently, after Bethan had been particularly fussy, Hannah asked dad not to "sell her" just get more help in training her? Nick and Bek stay busy with their restaurant in Vail, CO and coming over to see my mom as often as they can. Steve and Annie took a break from TV production and school teaching to come see mom and Tim and Sara plan to come out the middle of the month. Melva is busy substitute teaching and the two of us are spending time with my mom and arranging her affairs.
A Special Night: As I was praying about teaching skiing this winter (the bad knee and needing time to work on the DMin were concerning me) I sensed the Lord leading me to return at least one more season. It is my 40th season of working at Crested Butte and I hoped to be able to share a testimony at the annual recognition dinner about how the Lord had spared my life and my soul. The day before the January 24th dinner, one of the executives of the corporation stopped to see me and thank me for the years of service. I asked if I might have a few moments to share and he readily agreed. During the dinner I was able to tell of my gratitude to Jesus with over 200 employees and their spouses! The response was overwhelmingly positive. That, combined with the newspaper profile which ran a few weeks earlier, has opened many doors for witness both in Crested Butte and Gunnison!
Finances: We are starting the New Year off well. By the Lord's grace we will be able to continue to move forward with the West Elk Bible Institute as well as other opportunities to train and send out workers into the Lord's harvest. Thank you for your prayers and investment in His kingdom's work. They are a wonderful encouragement from the Lord!
May the Love of the Lord Jesus Christ enfold and indwell you!
Rick and Melva Barton Rich and Shelba Townsend