Our story on MM Outreach News & Views

Our story on MM Outreach News & Views

MM Outreach News & Views #98 on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

MM Outreach News & Views #98 features our story of adversity through God’s grace.  This will help many of you to understand why I am not always fast in answering or posting here on the Women in Ministry blog.  I do want to go back to regular posting articles here through 2012, the Lord willing. I am posting our testimony here to make it public. 

God’s Leading Through Adversity

It is a joy for Richard and I to be in ministry with MM Outreach and I would like to share the behind-the-scenes story that few have heard. Our testimony is to the amazing grace of God that has kept us standing when it seemed like the enemy was doing everything he could to shut down the work of this ministry. 

The initial call to ministry:

In the late 1980’s when I was a stay-at-home Mom, God called me to minister to Jehovah’s Witnesses. For a year and a half, I dreamed about witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses every night and every morning I would remember my dreams. This was an amazing thing for a shy young woman who feared talking to strangers, but God did such a transformation in my heart that I lived to bring the gospel to JWs.
What followed were years of personal witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the beginning, I would meet them on the streets of our city when they would no longer come to our door, or I would go to homes of Christians when they had the JW’s visiting them so that these Christians could be helped in ministering to precious souls trapped in false religion. I also wrote weekly recorded phone messages for our ministry’s answering machine that were geared to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because of the phone ministry, Richard and I also had the privilege of leading a support group for ex-JW’s who had exited the Watchtower, but who were still struggling with their cultic doctrine. During 16 years of ministry, we saw hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses go through the support group and it was our joy to help many of them find freedom in Christ. God also brought members of other cult groups into our home and we served them with the same love that God had given me for the JWs.

The call to full-time ministry:

During the 1990’s Keith and Lorri MacGregor approached us several times to work with them in ministry. They were looking for a couple to partner with them in video projects but they were also looking for a couple who were trustworthy enough to take over MacGregor Ministries. We were not yet ready to uproot our lives and leave our children, and we were not sure that we could survive living in a small mountain city. But about 10 years ago, we knew it was God’s will for us for full-time ministry and we made plans to quit our jobs, fix up our house for sale and pack up our belongings to move to Nelson in 2007. Although our house did not sell before we left in mid-June 2007, we were confident that God was in con- trol and we left to start our full-time volunteer service for the Lord. Little did we know that we were in for a wild ride and our dedication to ministry would be severely tested. 

We were only an hour into our journey when the first tire blew up on our trailer. Shortly after that, a second tire blew and we had to spend the night in a hotel while we waited to replace all of the tires. We finally arrived in Nelson just one day before a government representative showed up to do an audit of MacGregor Ministries. The result was a ruling from the government that witnessing to the cults was not considered a “charitable” work in Canada and MacGregor Ministries no longer qualified as tax exempt. This eventually led to the dissolution of MacGregor Ministries and selling and giving away the entire finances in that ministry. 

Would we go home and let the ministry die? Although we were encouraged to do that as we were under financial pressure as our house had not yet sold, and we were paying the bills on two houses and were quickly running out of available cash, we knew that God had called us into ministry so we had to stand strong and refuse to give up. It wasan opportunity to prove our commitment to God and to practice not running from persecution and trials. Instead, we were given the opportunity to watch what our God would do to in dire circumstances. 

Praise God that He allowed us to establish both a Canadian corporation and a US charity so that the work of ministry would car-ry on. We did not know what the future would hold, but we did know who held our future! Yet the tough times were not yet finished. We were determined to purchase MacGregor Ministries stock and equipment so that we could carry on as before. That took an act of faith as the video editing equipment and computers were originally purchased through money donated either by Richard and myself or from my family. We bought a lot of the equipment back personally as the new ministry did not have the funds. When the new ministry did have some funds available we chose to honor the MacGregors by paying them back before reimbursing ourselves. That allowed us to pay them for the print shop equipment before we bought back our computers. Shortly after that we suffered the theft of Richard’s laptop computer. This was devastating to us because of the financial loss we suffered plus the time it took to re-enter three months worth of ministry files that had not yet been saved and the fact that the ministry had no money at the time to replace the computer. Our insurance did not cover the loss as our deductible had been raised due to the construction of our new office and video studio. I must admit that we really felt the strain of ministry at that time and we did wonder how much we could endure. 

When we answered God’s call to ministry, we knew that we would be working as volunteers and covering our own living costs, but we expected the ministry to cover the costs of expanding the ministry work. MacGregor Ministries had the money to build the new office and studio, but when their funds had to be given away to other charities, Richard and I chose on our own initiative, to undertake the construction project with our personal funds as a sacrifice for the work of the Lord. At that time, our home back in Edmonton had sold and after paying off the loan for our new home, we chose to use the remaining funds for the expansion of this ministry. Our builder assured us that the money we had would cover not just the ministry addition, but would be enough to renovate the dated interior of our 1939 home. We soon found out that this was far too optimistic. Our personal funds were completely spent just by completing the outside of the ministry office and studio, as well as redoing the weathered roof, siding and windows of our house. This included a necessary upgrade to the outside water line, plumbing and gas line and underpinning the entire foundation along the back of the house in order to create a 9’ ceiling height for the new studio. We really wondered when we were going to see an end to the trials. However, there was more yet to come as our faith was being strengthened by God.

Each day that we were building the new ministry space, we were working long hours to keep the costs down. In February of last year as the outside was completed, we let the crew go, as our available cash for paying labor was gone. Praise God that ministry friends came and helped as Richard and I continued the construction ourselves and other supporters gave money to help us buy electrical, plumbing and heating supplies so the work could go on. Also at that time, we found out that the MacGregors were no longer going to be in ministry due in part to health issues. The full burden of this vital work would be on our shoulders much sooner than we had anticipated.

The ministry was saved and the work on-going because we refused to quit, but we were exhausted and we felt so alone. We had also gone through a painful church split at our new church home and there was no doubt that we were in a spiritual battle greater than we had ever fought before. Does God have the ability to carry us and encourage us when the going is tough? Absolutely! God has assured us that we will survive and will accomplish His purposes for us. It may take longer and more work than we had anticipated, but He will not fail us. Every day we count our blessings. We are joyful that God called us to sacrifice because there is no higher calling than to give ourselves for God’s work. We are also grateful that God has given us a peaceful place to work. We live in a mountain community where there is serenity. We are thankful for good health and the ability to do so many things well. God has given Richard experience in framing, plumbing, heating and electrical as well as many ministry gifts. We feel blessed to use these gifts for the Lord’s work. 

God has also blessed us with new friends who share our heart for ministry. We wake every morning joyful and thankful for the blessings that God has given and we no longer feel so alone. God has taken us from a place of strong adversity to a place of hope and joy. He has promised that He will travel this road with us and we will experience His blessings if we do not give up. 

Dear friends, if you too have experienced adversity and trial, do not give up. God is greater than your trials and He has a way when there seems to be no way. He IS able!

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