Sometimes we have to make decisions that just don’t make sense…

 

Sometimes in ministry we have to make decisions that just don’t make sense to the world, to our friends, maybe not even to our families. In fact, we may just find ourselves, standing in front of the mirror one morning, shaking our heads and saying, “You really must be crazy! Are you really going to go through with this?”

I had one of those decision-making moments a few weeks ago. But first, I have to tell you about another moment.

Work was crazy that Friday. Multiple times, I’d had people on both phone lines with two or three customers at my desk, vendors in and out, and residents just passing through. For some reason (I don’t remember why), I was the only one in the office that day.

Suddenly there was a lull. It was quiet for about five minutes. Then my cellphone began to ring. It wasn’t my habit to take personal calls at work, but when I realized it was from one of my single moms, I answered.  I listened as she said, “Rachel, I think I have someone you can help.” She went into a very long explanation of a heartbreaking situation. I realized God was opening up an opportunity to walk with a mom in need from the very beginning—before the child was even born. Then someone came into the office, followed by the carpet cleaners, followed by both lines lighting up on the office phone—I had to end the call.

I promised to help in two areas: finding parenting classes (something we would like to do in the future) and chasing down some leads on housing. I squeezed in a visit to LaVie Pregnancy Center later that week and managed to make one call on housing, but there was no answer. Then my job took over again.

Day after day, I tried to get out of the office in time to follow up on other resources for this new mother, but to no avail. Day after day, I drug myself from my desk to my car at the end of the day, having not eaten since breakfast, never had a break, never stopped running—always exhausted. It got to the point that the only time I was making it to the FTN office or to other FTN related work was if there was an actual established appointment with another human being. I was overwhelmed, and keenly aware that I was failing at the work that was most important.

A week after the initial phone call, I received a Facebook message from a friend and FTN partner. “How did it go ministering to that mom this week?” she asked. I cried. Then I answered, “It didn’t.”

The decision had already been made, even before this moment. In fact, even before the initial phone call I had already been talking with my manager about an exit strategy. This incident just drove home the fact that I had made the right decision. God is good, and He has given us a second chance. A week ago, I met with the single mom who originally called me to see if we could help. We had a very good conversation about the situation. Now we wait to see what the needs truly are as things unfold.

But I still had to make that choice, the one others might not understand. I had to resign my job. Not only was the situation destroying opportunities to minister but it had also become very unhealthy. I am convinced that if I stayed even a month more, I would have been in serious trouble health-wise. I praise the Lord for giving me the job, for using the strange way it all unfolded to open the door to get FTN back on its feet after Dad passed away, and I praise Him for answering my prayer and showing me when it was time to walk away.

Now I ask that you pray with me for wisdom for the next step. God has begun to open doors unexpectedly (unexpected to me, not to Him). This week a friend has hosted an online event that has allowed us to share about FTN with several people who are new to the work. In October, Lord willing, I will be in three churches to share about the ministry and to speak to ladies’ groups. Later in the month, I will be attending a meeting in St. Louis where, Lord willing, we will talk about the need for ministry to the fatherless. These are exciting events. I see God’s hand in them, and am excited to see what else He has in store!

Please pray that the Lord will continue to guide and provide. FTN is currently only at 7% of the funding that we estimate we need to be fully functional. This means that neither Mrs. Trout nor I currently receive any personal support through the ministry. I want to give as much energy and time to the ministry as possible. We are trusting that God will provide and give wisdom as we go into this new chapter! I am excited to see what He will do!

If you would be interested in hearing more, in setting up a time for us to share about the ministry, or in partnering with FTN, please feel free to contact me.

“Thank you, thank you,” read one of several excited texts, which I received after a single mom found out she was coming home to a new window air conditioner.
The single mom, we’ll call her Karen, is one of the women whom we helped move earlier this year. Since her move, she has run into multiple problems in her new home, including the discovery that her new landlord had not changed the locks. This discovery was made when a strange man walked into their home at 10 o’clock one night. Not only this and not only did the house have no air conditioning but it was also infested with spiders, had a gas leak and a bad water heater.
About a week and a half ago, Karen texted me at the point of tears. I wanted to do something to help, but wasn’t sure how or where to start. I asked our partners on Facebook to pray with me that we would know how God wanted us to get involved. We were able to get information to help Karen in dealing with her landlord, but there were still other needs. God answered our prayer with an unexpected gift and a great price on a window AC unit.
So, when Karen texted me saying “you’re so amazing”, I was able to respond, “You’re welcome, but it wasn’t me. It was God. We didn’t have the means to do anything, but we prayed and God provided.”
I didn’t get a response right away, but the next text I recieved was priceless. It wasn’t from Karen. It was from her teenage daughter, who said, “I just wanted to thank you and your business [FTN] for looking out for us. I appreciate everything that you are doing for us. Love from all my heart
 
Please pray that the Lord will continue to open doors to work with this fatherless family and to share His love and the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
 
Other News From May and June
•It’s official! After 8 months of paperwork, we finally have been approved as a 501c3. I was at work when I got the email from our accountant. I literally gasped, jumped out of my desk chair, and yelled out my manager’s name. I think she nearly jumped out of her skin. We are all so grateful to everyone who has prayed throughout this process and to the Lord for bringing this about.
 
• Mother’s Day –The Lord allowed us to give each of the moms in our care a very nice potted flower and a gift card for Mother’s Day. The gift was a blessing to each of them and held the door open for further ministry.
 
• A New Addition –We are so grateful for the way God has provided to bring Marta Trout into the ministry. I know that the path to this point has not been an easy one for her and that we have her at great personal sacrifice. We are so blessed and undeserving and so grateful.
 
• Our Bible Study continues each Tuesday. Please pray for wisdom as we deal with some very difficult topics.
 
• We were able to share with a group of 23 people all from the Billings area about the ministry of Forbid Them Not. Many of them took brochures because they knew people who would either benefit from the ministry or who would be able to send people in our direction. Please pray that God would continue to use this event to grow the ministry as He sees fit.
 
How can we pray for you?
 

 

Moving Forward

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

Last week, I sat at my desk in the Forbid Them Not office talking on the phone with a single grandmother. She and her four grandchildren lived in the apartment complex where I work part-time. Due to issues out of her control and of no fault of her own, she was facing an unexpected move. In a short 30 days, she had to find a new home, get it approved for Section 8, and uproot her whole family. As if to add injury to insult, during this time she also fell and fractured her knee. As I talked with her that afternoon, not as the leasing agent for the property, but as part of Forbid Them Not, I was able to share with her that we had not only a few volunteers coming to help but also a horse trailer to help move her things.

“This means so much to me,” she said in her quiet, humble voice.

I didn’t realize just how much it meant until we arrived the next day. This dear lady, we’ll call her Grace because it fits her so well, had no one there to help her but us and three of the grandchildren. Grace had no one to carry furniture. She had only a mini-van to make trips back and forth between the two homes, which are about 8 miles apart. Can you imagine how many trips she would have made?

As we sat around the kitchen, devouring the pizza my pastor brought by for lunch, Grace began asking us questions about what church we go to. The conversation seemed to prick her heart.

“I need to get back in church,” she said. “I used to go all the time, but now I’m not as faithful. I need to get back.”

Later, we were able to pray with her and dedicate her new home to the Lord, asking Him to make it a place of peace. Please pray for this fatherless family, that they will truly come to know God as their Father.

Bits and pieces from the last few weeks:

  • We have officially been recognized by the State of Montana as a nonprofit! Now we simply await federal approval. (BUT we’re waiting in the busy sense!)
  • We held our first Bible Study in the Forbid Them Not Office. It has been going on for several weeks now and has been a huge blessing!
  • We had our first impromptu life skills class in the parking lot: “How To Change A Taillight.” (I failed to check for corrosion, so we had to find someone smarter than me to finish the job.😉 )
  • We were able to assist a single mom and a single Grandma and their children in their moves.
  • Important news: For a couple of years, we’ve been trying to find a way to attach a good email provider to the FTN website. Thanks to the help of a friend of a friend, that issue has been solved! We now have a new system and will be transitioning to that over the next few weeks. The general account will be: info at forbidthemnot dot com.

 

Prayer Requests:

  • Down the road, I would love to hold a very special Mother’s Day event for the women to whom we are ministering. We’re not there yet, so this year I’d like to just start with a special gift for the three moms we’ve had the opportunity to assist over the last month or so. Please pray that the Lord will lead us to just the right gift to encourage and honor them, while pointing them to the Lord. (Suggestions welcome!)
  • For wisdom and direction as we continue through the organizational process.
  • For wisdom in balancing a very heavy schedule. I presently am working two jobs in addition to the ministry at FTN. Please pray that I will have mental clarity as all three are very mentally demanding, and that I will have wisdom to see what must be done and what is not as important.
  • That God will be glorified in all that we do!

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One of my favorite verses is found in Psalm 107: “Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” Sometimes, it is hard to find things that seem “wonderful” in our lives. We see the valley ahead of us, the mountains towering high and the deep, dark shadows they cast around us and we wonder how we will ever come out of that place with anything beautiful. BUT GOD makes all things beautiful in His time.

Earlier this year, I had to write the most difficult ministry letter I had ever written: The letter stating that I did not know when or if “Forbid Them Not” would get back on its feet. I cannot even begin to tell you how dark the valley of those days was. Every time I turned around it seemed we were under attack of some kind in some new way and usually from a source, which we not only thought we could trust but which we had relied upon for help in some way or another.

Wednesday night, as our church family knelt around the platform and prayed together tears came to my eyes. I realized that it will be a year next week since someone (whom I respect and who meant well) looked me pityingly in the eye and said with regard to this ministry, “Sometimes we have to give up the things we love.” Four months later, just a few days before the anniversary of Dad’s home-going someone else sat in the pastor’s study of our church and told me that the ministries of our church, including this one, were not worth fighting for because the church was too small. Both of these men, in their own way, meant what they said for good, but they were forgetting the God Factor!

God is not so small that He cannot overcome the devastation left in the wake of one man’s passing. He is not so small that He cannot restore and redeem the things that are lost or stolen by the actions of others, by wagging tongues, or by injustice. God is not limited by our small vision. He and His might are magnified when we look at our deepest anguish through the lens of His amazing love and wondrous works.

A year ago, I was told to walk away. Six months ago, I was forced to drop everything. BUT GOD has done marvelously. Two months ago, I walked into a missions conference in Utah with no idea of what to expect over the following days. I cannot begin to describe to you the healing balm found in the loving spirit of that church. The tears I wept there were tears of renewed understanding of what love and acceptance really are. Three weeks later, on December 1st, I signed a lease for the FIRST office space for Forbid Them Not because of God’s working through the sacrificial giving of this church.

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The space is small, but it is as much a blessing as a beginning. I have been praying about founding a space for more than two years. I had been praying about this specific spot for at least 8 months. It seemed so far out of reach, but God made it possible. Then I moved in, and the blessing grew. On my first day at the office I discovered that the office is surrounded on all sides by the Tribal Leaders Council. Their director was the first person I met in the building. As we talked he shared with me that they are starting a program working with single mothers of Meth-affected babies. More than once he has expressed an interest in connecting these ladies with the FTN ministry as well. Only God could have orchestrated that!

We are currently in the process of setting FTN up as a 501c(3). Up to this point, I have worked under the umbrella of Grace Baptist Church, my home church. For multiple reasons, none of them being any kind of disagreement or poor relationship with the church, we believe it is time to take this step. It will be a slow process, but God is leading each step of the way. I am so excited to see where HE takes this ministry next!

What a way to start the New Year!

May the Lord richly bless you, your family, and your church as you seek to serve Him in 2016!

Below is the physical address of the FTN as well as our new mailing address. Stop by if you’re ever in the area! (Call first! I’m still working another job. I wouldn’t want to miss you! 406-208-7332.)

Forbid Them Not Office:

711 Central Ave, Suite 207, Billings, MT 59102

Forbid Them Not Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 80993, Billings, MT 59102

 

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Someone autographed the desk before shipping!

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December 18th we had a time of prayer and dedication for the office. Including the four who joined us on Skype, we had 13 people stop by. What a joy to see God moving!

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Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and for your wonderful works to the children of men!

The last six weeks have been full of change and questions. Each day, I awake with my heart already crying out to the Lord for His direction and for wisdom to know His plan for the future. At times, it seems these days are bringing to a close a journey—a passion and calling—that has been the focus of every waking moment for the past twenty years. It has felt in some moments as if I have faced another death. At other times, I see some small hope that maybe, just maybe, this path has not come to an abrupt end but merely disappeared “into the trees” for a time.

In April, we found out about a sudden and drastic financial change. Due to the amount of time invested in helping the church over the last year, I had already lost nearly all of my own income and was looking for work to tide me over until I could get both my editing service and FTN back on their feet. This new development, however, increases that need by more than $1,000/month.

As you can imagine, the hours required to make up these losses will greatly limit the amount of time I am able to put into direct, daily ministry for the near future. Only the Lord knows the ultimate outcome of this situation, and we must continue to seek Him in every step. While much that I have done in the past may be limited, I hope to be able to continue a few things, like the Green Bean Project and the clothing exchange. The rest, including the local ministry to single moms, is in God’s hands. I believe that work is very needful in Billings, and I believe the Lord was beginning to open doors and give glimpses of what that ministry’s potential really could be, but for now, though it rips at my heart, it must wait.

Please pray with me for God’s wisdom, for provision, and for clear direction. I am so grateful for the last twenty years. God has given me the great joy of serving Him in ways and places that I never would have imagined. I have no regrets, and so much for which to praise Him. What amazing things we have seen Him do! My heart has not changed, if anything my burden for the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, and the poor and needy has increased. Over the last year, I have walked in their shoes in a way I had never walked before. It is my prayer that through all of this, God will open doors that never would have opened before. I know that He has a plan. It may not look like anything I ever imagined, in fact—it might be better.

I hope you will join me here as I wait on the Lord and continue to share what He has been teaching me about His heart for the fatherless. (Blogs may be scarce for a while, but I do have a plan for down the road.🙂 )

Thank you for your prayer, for your support, and for your involvement. I will continue to seek to find ways to be relevant and to show and share the love of Christ both to the fatherless and to the others God brings along my path. I pray that you will do the same.

I have wanted to write this update for a couple of weeks, but have been waiting for some details to come together so I could give the most accurate information possible.

Over the last few weeks, God has been moving things along rather quickly. We are very excited to say that, Lord willing, we will have an interim pastor arriving later this week. Lebron and Libby Williams of Home and Abroad Baptist Ministries will be traveling this way from Tennessee and plan to spend about three months with us. During which time we will continue diligently searching for a full-time pastor. Please pray for the Williams as they make the trip here and acclimate to Billings. Also, please continue to pray for our pastor search. We believe the Lord is already preparing just the right man for the job.

I also wanted to give an update on the Green Bean Project. Yes, it was supposed to be over at the end of December, but God had other plans. Since my last update, He brought in two more gifts, which nearly doubled what had come in up to that point. So, rather than having to take the local ministry completely out of the mix, I was able to send gifts to each of the overseas ministries and still had some left over for the single moms ministry here in Billings! God is GOOD!

I want to thank all of you who have prayed for us over the last ten months. I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to know people are praying. We know that without those prayers, we would not have made it this far. We also know that we still have a ways to go, and we ask that you continue to pray fervently. I have been greatly refreshed of late by the promise of 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”

May the Lord bless you as you serve Him!

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

 

What would we do without God’s mercy! How grateful I am that His mercies are “new every morning.”

Our church is finally on the verge of beginning our pastor search. We would greatly appreciate your prayer as we seek the man that God has been preparing. Please be praying specifically as relates to “Forbid Them Not,” both locally and internationally, as well as other ministries already established through the church. I have already had more than one pastor tell me, “Sometimes we have to give up the things we love” in regard to our prayer that God would bring a man with a similar burden. This breaks my heart, but I believe the Lord CAN answer that prayer. It is just a matter of letting God bring us together.

The 2014 Green Bean Project has come to a close. Due to the many new responsibilities on my plate, this year’s project was much more difficult to keep moving. We were able to raise about $350 dollars. This is quite a bit short of the amount that I had hoped we could raise, so I have decided to pull the local ministry out of the mix and split the funds between the three ministries we have supported through this project in the past. I will also be adding to it enough to send each ministry $150. If you would like to help with this addition, or would like to give specifically to the local ministry you can do so through the Green Bean Project page of the Forbid Them Not website

Our family had a blessed holiday season. It would be untrue to say that we did not have some very difficult moments, but we were blessed to be together. How grateful we are for the promises of God, in particular, that He never leaves us, nor forsakes us! In July, a friend of mine encouraged me to start a follow-up to the devotional journal that I published in 2013. As I prayed about this, the Lord impressed me to focus the new journal on His promises. I cannot even begin to tell you what an amazing source of strength and comfort those promises were as I began compiling them for the book. It’s my prayer that they will have the same effect on those who use the new journal.

Personally, I would appreciate your prayer for wisdom. Since May, I have inherited the responsibilities of three different people at the church because they have either gone to heaven or their health has made it impossible to carry out the work. Finding balance between what was already in place and the new responsibilities is very difficult. I have been very limited both in the areas of outreach and work. I have tried to keep in my mind that THIS is what God has for now. I greatly need wisdom in this area. Please, pray with me for the Lord’s direction. He has never failed, and since He has promised that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, I know He will not start failing now!

Please be in prayer for a young woman named Tanya and her son Isaiah. I met them just before Thanksgiving. She was calling around asking churches for a ride, so she could pick up her Thanksgiving food box at the local food bank. By the time I got her call, she was very frustrated and felt that everyone was just giving her the run around. When I picked her up that afternoon, she said to me, “You are the only church that was willing to help single moms. Thank you.”

Fifty-four percent of the kids in Billings are growing up in single parent homes. Many of them are living in poverty as a result. It’s easy to say, “Well, you made your bed, now lie in it.” But that is not Christ’s response. When someone says something like Tanya said that day, it helps put into perspective how important this ministry really is. Tanya and I have tried to get together a couple of other times since Thanksgiving, but each time it has fallen through. Please, pray that the Lord will allow this relationship to develop, and that she would come to a full understanding of what Christ has done for her and will come to Him for salvation.

Thank you so much for your prayers! I know many people have been praying for us over the last few months! We need it! Thank you for your faithfulness!