ON THE JOURNEY OF ENCOURAGEMENT
(Vertical Magazine - The Ministry of Encouragement)
Having called on over 200 churches and personally visiting with 109 pastors, one-on-one, here are a few of the encounters as I remember them.
WRITING THEIR RESIGNATION
I called on one couple, both of them pastors, who were in the midst of writing their resignation from ministry. When I walked into the office, the wife was at the computer composing the resignation letter. I said, “I’m here to tell you that God has not lost your address.” She broke into tears and escorted me into her husband’s office. As I shared with them words of encouragement, the Lord sent peace to their hearts and restored joy to their countenance. The following Sunday we visited their church and presented them with a “Dinner for Two” at a local restaurant, compliments of our small group.
YOU ARE TOO LATE
I called on a pastor in a mainstream denomination church. When I walked in, he asked,”What do you want?” I said, “I’m here to encourage you.” He said, “You are too late.” He spent the next hour telling me about the death that prevails in the church he serves. Several weeks later, he visited our small group and the group also had a powerful time of prayer ministry with him. The group presented him with a “Dinner for Two.”
THE WHOLE MORNING
One pastor I called on was having some serious health problems. I had the opportunity to minister healing prayer to him. We spend the remainder of the morning together (three hours) and then had lunch together. There was a noticeable change in his countenance after the visit.
THE MORNING OF ENCOURAGEMENT
As a result of visiting with many ministers and pastors in Franklin County, Alabama, we planned a “Morning of Encouragement.” Twenty-eight pastors and ministers participated in this special morning of encouragement and sharing. Six retired pastors from the Shoals area shared with those present how they had “weathered the storms of ministry. “ Each of the retired pastors (a cumulative total of 235 years of ministry experience) laid hands on and prayed for the pastors who were present. Lunch was provided for all of those who participated at the A.W. Todd Center. Plans are to have “mornings of encouragement” in many towns and communities in North Alabama.
THE DISTRICT SUPERIENTENDENT
One morning, the Lord prompted me to go by and visit with the District Superintendent
of the United Methodist Church in North Alabama. I simply went to tell him that all of the ministers under his charge had given him a good report. He was touched by the message of encouragement.
AFRICAN AMERICAN PASTOR
I have had the privilege of visiting with several African American pastors. I am finding that many African American pastors are bi-vocational and do not have the privilege of serving full time without other employment. One morning I visited with a precious man of God who is an elder in his church. He invited me to return and visit with the new pastor which I did. We prayed together. He invited me to church and my wife and I visited this congregation the following Sunday. We were received very warmly. This was an African American Church of Christ. We were the only white persons present which seemed to make no difference.
VISITED WITH THE WIVES
On two separate occasions, the pastors were not in the church office and I visited with the wives. I found them to be very receptive and very needy. After sharing a few of the challenges facing the churches and their husbands, I knew the Lord had sent me to visit with the wives rather than the husbands. I prayed for both of them.
CLEARING THE AIR
I visited with one pastor brother with whom I had had a slight altercation because the pastor was a “no show” on my radio program. I discovered that I had hidden this in my heart and actually taken up an offence against him. In the middle of our “visit of encouragement” I discovered that this was the man. We confessed our sins to each other and experienced the love of God as we laid it all down. This visit was as much encouragement to me as it was to him.
MY WORST DAY EVER
One pastor was somewhat reluctant to receive me although it was obvious that he was in his office. Upon greeting him I shared why I had come, to encourage him. He responded by saying, “This is the worst day I have ever had.” I said,”that’s why God has sent me here today.” We shared and prayed. We both left encouraged.