Rick Barton Ministries, P.O. Box 1155, Gunnison, CO 81230, 970-209-8006 (C) 970-641-3583 (H)
"Great is Thy Faithfulness"
"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). Right in the middle of Jeremiah's lament over the difficulties of unrepentant Israel, he bursts into a hymn of praise! Humanly speaking, nothing had changed. Yet, in the life of a Spirit-filled believer, joy in the Lord doesn't depend on our circumstances. "For the joy of the Lord is your strength", Nehemiah reminded the children of Israel. Whether we're in the midst of trials or blessings, to memorize, meditate and confess God's truths as Jeremiah did releases a confidence and joy. God's word reminds us that as we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, a fruit of that filling is joy!
Current activities: This has been a time of joy for Melva and I as we returned from 3 weeks of ministry in OK, met with a wonderful group of you in Colorado Springs for a night of celebrating God's faithfulness, and returned to Gunnison for some catch-up time and work on the doctorate. A special treat was meeting with Ginny Blackwell, one of our faithful band of prayer warriors. Ginny has been praying daily for us since 1987 when Billy Graham asked for volunteers to pray for evangelists. A huge "Thank You" to all of you who pray for Melva and I and Rich and Shelba regularly!!!
After 34 years we're finishing the last room of our basement and that's been a blessing as we work with and share with the workers. One man I contacted about doing some painting told me that he had recently become a follower of Jesus. He went on to say that he had attended a funeral I held for a man we had helped come to the Lord. "It was the first time I've ever been sure someone I knew had gone to heaven", he remarked. Your prayers enable us to share God's salvation and assurance in so many places.
Last weekend I preached at the Pitkin Community church, 30 miles from Gunnison. We've been sharing there for many years and really love the folks. They are a small, summer-only church with real enthusiasm and love for the Lord. Currently they send 75% of their offerings to missionaries! I'll be there again this weekend (June 1) and Rich Townsend will preach there June 8th. Rich and Shelba are currently ministering in MO. This weekend we have the privilege of baptizing a wonderful young woman who is a part of the university track team and has a desire to see her teammates come to Jesus!
Upcoming: After the service in Pitkin, Melva and I leave to speak at First Baptist Church- Ft. Smith AR (June 4), that will be followed by a "Ministry Update and Thank You Dinner in Dallas (June 6), a "Ministry Update and Thank You Dinner" in Oklahoma City (June 7th) and then I'll preach at Abell Church north of Guthrie, OK (June 8th). Following Abell, its back to Colorado to hold several funerals and weddings as well as preach, teach and write. Please pray for the Lord's anointing to be upon us and that we bring glory to Him! In July (July 13) we hold our annual Cowboy Church service at the rodeo here in Gunnison. In November we'll be sharing in Tucson, AZ with our friends at Vistoso Community Church (November 14-16).
Firefighting: Several of you have asked why I haven't been out on forest fires. As you know that's a fruitful ministry field as well as a source of income for us. I did take the annual pack test (carry a 45 pound pack for three miles) and by the grace of God and your prayers I passed with my best time yet. However, with the number of ministry responsibilities this spring and early summer I have not made myself available for dispatch. I hope to become available in mid-June. We have been able to distribute some firefighter New Testaments and Devotionals to firefighters during our travels and continue to receive feedback that the articles I write for The Encourager, a Christian firefighter magazine, are helpful to men and women in the fire service.
Family: Stephen and Joy continue to be busy with family, work and ministry. Stephen is preaching almost every week in various parts of Scotland. Joy, Hannah and Bethan travel to be with us in a few weeks with Stephen and the rest of our family coming in July. Nick and Rebekah returned safely from Vietnam, Steve and Annie as well as Tim and Sara are working away in Los Angeles and planning their trip our way.
Finances: Our accountant reports that donations last year and the first quarter of this year are behind previous years. I think this is partially because some of our faithful supporters have been "Promoted to Glory". We are grateful for several new folks who have joined our support team. We are not worried. As other missionaries and Christian workers have expressed over the years, "Where God guides, He provides!" We have never gone without. In fact, when we least expect it, the Lord provides above and beyond anything we would have asked for. Last week a brother gave us a check to distribute among our missionary alumni, what a joy that is!
Prayer and Praise: First a praise report. Pastor Van Hudson in OK has experienced some progress in his healing! After over 80 days in several hospitals he is starting to have movement in his legs and they finally gained the upper hand on his infections and pain. Please continue to pray for Van and his wife Sally. Please pray that the anointing of the Holy Spirit remains upon us and increases; especially in the area of seeing souls come to Jesus. Please pray for several unsaved husbands in our ministry that the Spirit would open their eyes to their need for the Savior and His love for them. These are wonderful men that we want to be with us in heaven.
Ministry Update and Thank You Dinners: We still have room for you at our Dallas dinner, June 6th, 6 pm at Bill and Verdell Krisher's home, 5915 Over Downs St. and our June 7th OKC dinner at Johnnies Hamburgers, 33, 33rd street-5pm in Edmond. Call us (970-209-8006) if you can; but even if you can't call, come!
45 Years of Ministry Celebration: Please plan to join us for a blessed day of worshipping God for His faithfulness on Friday, July 25th! The day will begin with a trip to Lake City to visit a church family which started with a home Bible study we led in the 70's. Then a trip to an overlook to view several 14,000' peaks, and finally a stop for ice cream at the San Juan Soda (and leather) Shop owned by wonderful Christians who were part of that early Bible study group. That evening we'll have a dinner and praise time with testimonies of God's faithfulness! We have arranged for discounted motel rooms and a BBQ dinner but the rooms are filling fast due to the summer trade in our beautiful part of Colorado; so please contact us soon.
Each of you are expressions of God's love and faithfulness to us. Thank you and may the Lord Jesus richly bless you!
Rick and Melva Barton Rich and Shelba Townsend