Rick Barton Ministries, P.O. Box 1155, Gunnison, CO 81230, 970-209-8006 (C) 970-641-3583 (H)
September 11, 2015
The Fires of Fall
One hour after I notified the fire dispatch center that I was available for an assignment, I was ordered to northern Washington as a Strike Team Leader for fire engines (STEN). That began 18 days of ministry and work which taught me fresh lessons in humility and our God’s wonderful grace. Two lessons stick out.
First, when dispatch told me my assignment, I had a surge of uncertainty. I hadn’t served as a STEN for several years and would be in unfamiliar country with engines that were new to me. My anxiety increased upon arrival when instead of having responsibility for two or three engines, I was placed in charge of up to 6 engines, a hand crew, a falling crew, and a bulldozer trying to protect homes scattered in heavy timber. I was “way over my head”! Earlier I had asked the Lord to choose my assignment, placing me where He wanted me, so I knew He was with me.
As I prayed on the fireline, a sense of humility mixed with confidence came. He would give me the wisdom I needed to protect my crews and work effectively as I humbled myself before Him and my crews. The Lord gave me several local firemen who walked with me through the decisions I needed to make.
Second, the Holy Spirit realigned my motives for going on the fire. Since I typically work 100 hours a week on an assignment (6am to 8pm, 14-18 days straight), I receive a nice paycheck at the end of the fire. This helped us pay our kid’s college, weddings, and trips to see family. Without realizing it, I had begun to think more about the money I would earn than the ministry I was called to. As the Lord revealed that to me I was able to repent and refocus.
The Result: Even on the flight to Spokane I was able to give away a firefighter New Testament. I always wear a Christian firefighter shirt when going to an incident and that invariably opens conversations. Upon arriving at the fire I had multiple opportunities to share, pray and give away New Testaments. One unbeliever questioned my faith and I was able to share a testimony. Another man opened up about his 5 yr. old son Ryson having a third heart surgery, and the child’s mother leaving him that day. We prayed together on the line. Several others asked about what it meant to know Jesus. Amazing times! The Holy Spirit was free to move when I was there for the right reason, to be an ambassador for Christ!
Other August blessings: We had a good trip to Boston for our nephew’s wedding. The Lord Jesus was lifted up in a wonderful way. Paul and Sarah (our former interns) preached a farewell message for our Saturday night service and then we sent them off to missionary training in Phoenix. Brad and Gina continued to share and visit supporters on their way back to Peru, and more.
Daniel, Krista and Gabriella Pennington join the team! The Penningtons direct a Christian coffeehouse in Gunnison and have felt led to work part-time with our ministry. Daniel played football here in college, became a Christian while a student, and two years ago married Krista, a nurse who has been to Bible College. They have an 8 month old, Gabriella, who is a special gift from God! They had planned to join RBM in September and slowly work into helping with Saturday night services. Instead, when the fire call came, they stepped up and Daniel taught for the next 3 weeks! This type of ministry is new to them so please pray for God’s grace and blessing!
Family: Stephen and Joy (Hannah and Bethan) are serving the Lord in Scotland with Stephen preaching most weekends. He has been approached about writing articles for Christian publications as well! Nick and Rebekah have been hunting mushrooms for their restaurant and will host us for Thanksgiving. Steve and Annie are working away in LA as are Tim and Sarah. They are both active in their church. Melva is still having treatment for her back pain but seems to be improving! Thanks for your prayers for each of us.
Bibles-Bibles-Bibles! Ed Godoy, a retired fireman from NY writes, “The carton arrived today with the Bibles. Thank you very much. I have decided to deliver one to each of the chaplains of each fire company within Orange County (NY) to use with members in need.” Bill Babb, retired fire chief from Dallas, just told me he takes the Bibles we gave him to every fire station he passes. The amazing thing is that he turns 90 in November. He and Ann, his wife of 70 years, both use walkers as they deliver them. “No one has turned the New Testaments down” he says! We are now buying and sending out cases of Police New Testaments.
Upcoming: Now that I’m back in town we’re ministering to folks locally. We start our West Elk Bible Institute in October, and getting ready for ski season. Lord willing, December 11 I’ll receive my doctorate in Louisville. I’ve been invited to speak at a men’s conference in January. Please continue your prayers for us.
Finances: By God’s grace and your faithful support we’re still going strong! Our Saturday night church service gave 100% of our summer offerings to 11 of our “alumni” missionaries. It wasn’t a fortune, but each will receive over $150. We’ve also been able to help some folks in need locally.
Your Prayers! As I worked on the fire assignment, I was strengthened as I thought of you who pray for us regularly! Thank You! It means everything to us. Rick and Melva, Daniel, Krista and Gabriella