“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me.” – Psalms 25:4
The Lord prepares His servants for each step of ministry. Often Christians are not aware of God’s careful preparation. It is good to review and remember the Lord’s direction in your life. Hard times and blessed times all make you more ready to serve the Lord. As you read my life’s review, think about yours.
Prepared Family – My mom and dad, Joel and Mary Barr, were Christians. They worked in the church nursery. When I was born, they started taking me to the church nursery every Sunday. So, I grew up in church.
Prepared to Move – Sterchi Furniture Company, my dad’s employer, moved our family all over the Southeast during my elementary school years. I was in two different schools every year. Two years I was in 3 different schools! While living in Knoxville, Tennessee, I had a Deaf friend, Steven Manning. Our family finally settled in Florida at the end of my 6th grade year. By then we were out of church, but the pastor of an independent Baptist church visited our home, and we began riding the church bus.
Prepared For Deaf – Later we joined Palm Springs Drive Baptist Church (PSDBC) and became very involved. I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior while in high school. For five summers I attended The Wilds Christian Camp and made many spiritual decisions, including surrendering my life to the Lord. During my senior year, my pastor’s father, Loyal C. Carlson, was burdened for the deaf, so my pastor, Loyal W. Carlson, invited Jerry Willoughby, from the Bill Rice Ranch to teach sign language at our church. We learned 600 signs, began to interpret in church, and Deaf people came. Imagine that! We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
Prepared to Teach – The next year I went to Bob Jones University to study for the music ministry, a great interest of mine. During my first semester, God called me to work in the deaf ministry. As there were no sign language classes, I did what no freshman should do. I asked to teach a Sign Language class at BJU. Surprisingly, the administration agreed. My first class had over 100 students! For the next seven semesters, I taught fellow students the little sign language I knew. Later I learned that several of my students were faithful in deaf ministry for many years.
Prepared Calling – During my senior year of college, the Lord called me to be a missionary to the Deaf. I did not know what that would mean, but I surrendered. Pastor Carlson learned of my call and invited me to be pastor to the Deaf at PSDBC in Altamonte Springs Florida. Diane (Mitchell) and I were married and moved into our first home, a 28-foot travel trailer. She began learning sign language, and three years later, we became missionaries to the Deaf, sent from PSDBC.
Prepared Ministry – Our family, including our two children, Rebekah and Joshua, lived in RVs for nearly 20 years, establishing deaf ministries all across the USA, teaching and preaching in deaf camps, and taking short-term mission trips to reach deaf people in other countries. In 1997, I became the Assistant Director at SWM. We fully merged our independent ministry with SWM in 2000, greatly expanding our ministry.
Prepared! – The Lord prepared me using Christian parents, constant moving, a Deaf friend in elementary school, a man burdened for the Deaf, a willing and nurturing pastor, music training, ministry training, an ignorant freshman’s desire, and a multitude of counselors over many years. This has been the Lord’s work!
Christian, God has also prepared you, but differently than He prepared me. His leading and preparation are real. Ask Him to open your eyes to His work. Pray, “Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me” (Psalms 25:4).
Take time to consider and write down the ways God has prepared YOU for ministry. Then consider where He could use you. Does God want you to learn sign language, become a ministry leader, surrender to become a missionary or pastor? God prepares each person differently. He needs willing servants. Are you willing to take your next step for the Lord?
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