Twenty-Eight Years of Preparation and Team Development by Charles Pretlow 12/08/16
In 1988 our counseling ministry was established as a “faith” ministry—somewhat of a pilot program in a Foursquare fellowship in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest. I was appointed the counseling pastor with no salary, receiving some occasional help from love offerings taken on my behalf by the senior pastor.
Each counselee was encouraged to give an honorarium at the end of each session, based on what he or she could afford. Sometimes a counselee would give items such as fresh salmon or other food items (usually just when we needed such). As word of mouth spread, my appointment calendar grew dramatically. Conflicts arose and eventually we had to start our own non-denomination home fellowship, preaching the Gospel, and gearing the work to help wounded Christians recover (God’s way) by offering counseling during the week.
Going independent was primarily due to the false teachings embraced by the senior pastor and the Foursquare denomination, which hindered the counselees from embracing sound doctrine that helps believers become cleansed of past defilements and wounds to the spirit in the discipline of God’s grace.
During this startup period for the counseling portion of our ministry, I received a vision from the Lord: One evening while seeking the Lord about the strenuous counseling work load, a vision came to my mind’s eye, where thousands upon thousands of Christians were languishing in darkness, deceived by false doctrine and hopelessly wandering. The gist of the vision was that a multitude of Christians had no hope of recovery concerning their emotional and mental instability, or become able to walk in the fullness of Christ. In the vision, the need to help became overwhelming—and at that moment I thought to myself, and as a prayer to the Lord, “No way, I can’t do this!”
Then I heard the distinct voice of the Lord, “Will you do this for me?” Almost immediately I responded, “That’s not fair.” However, almost instantly after that rebuff to the Lord I realized—how could I say no to the Lord, thus I gave in.
Funny, but through the years since that vision, I have learned that there is no way that one individual counselor, one ministry or even a ministry consortium could handle the workload required to help so many. It is logistically and administratively impossible to help so many of God’s people overcome buried wounds and defilements that result in double mindedness (dividedness).
Praise be to God. The Holy Spirit as Counselor, Comforter, and Spirit of Truth is quite apt in healing, restoring, and regenerating life to a believer’s soul and spirit by healing a wounded spirit, damaged emotions and mental turmoil. He is present with every believer simultaneously, 24/7. However, the problem is: not many understand God’s word and the biblical principles to help them learn to cooperate and work out God’s recovery program, which leads to wholeness and the fullness of Christ.
Twists and Turns
Like following a map that required compass readings at key waypoints, the Lord revealed at the right time what step to take and which direction to go. Sometimes it seemed we were being led away from the original vision, only to see the Lord’s wisdom and timing unfold, paving the way for the development of a resource or when it was time to procure a facility here in Canon City.
For over three years we have been praying and seeking the Lord about working with the local shelter to bring Christ to those in crisis and provide biblical counsel to those who would call upon Jesus. Again, at the Lord’s timing, this October one of our team members was hired to become the homeless shelter director. Another ministry partner was already there working as the receptionist—within a month the ministry gained access to help those in crisis and those struggling with life. Most importantly, we are learning what not to do by recognizing the missteps made by the current shelter system. Our vision of starting a complete Christ centered recovery program that works is now beginning take shape. This program will end up being taught to likeminded ministries as the Lord leads.
Millions of Believers at Risk of Losing-It
We have an urgent mandate to have all these teachings and resources in place ready to go. There is no time to waste, yet we must wait for God’s timing. This means we must advance steadily in doing what we know is God’s will for the moment. We desire God’s people to be ready, to be awake and prepared to work in the coming harvest of souls, which includes helping God’s wounded overcome.
Jesus warns believers concerning the last days that the end will mysteriously spring upon all. The unprepared will fall into a trap if they do not get ready, as Christ instructed: “Stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). And in Matthew the Lord warns: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
Continuous sobriety—with true spiritual, emotional, and mental strength is the only way to escape the coming troubles and endure to the end—until the rapture. This straight forward exhortation from the Lord is the only way we are to walk so that we may endure to the end.
Unfortunately, passivity, instability, false peace and false security are what most believers suffer today. I have discovered that many who want to be ready are God’s wounded. Most wealthy, healthy, and prosperous believers see no need to embrace Christ’s warnings and obey all that He taught, but rather most reject sound doctrine and choose false teachings that put them at ease. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Many who are in this non-ready state will be the first ones to lose it—they will emotionally and mentally crumble and fall victim to the end of the age trap set by the devil and his workers who are disguised as servants of righteousness. Many who are unprepared will head to the world for sustenance, protection, and comfort from the coming tribulation. (Metaphorically, these did not carry enough oil for their lamps. See the parable of the ten maidens in Matthew 25.)
Fortunately, in great mercy, the Lord will bring a true awakening and healing to his wounded just in time that they may become ready and endure.
Our work in bringing forth these Biblical principles for true recovery is just one of many ministries hid out in the wilderness of preparation, ready to be launched into the spotlight by the power of His might. These ministries will be used to bring forth sound doctrine that the Holy Spirit can use to facilitate healing, recovery, maturity—helping restore the body of Christ to her full potential, beauty, and unity.
With this awakening, there will come a great chasm between the ready and the not ready, between the deceived and the awake. There will be a clear distinction between those who fall away yet stay in churchianity, and those who are true to the Lord and endure to the end and not sell out.
Many will become ready, as tempered and refined ministries launch out under God’s power to warn and equip those who have an ear to hear and faith to act.
Years of Preparation:
Maturing through Learning, Training, Stepping Out in Faith, and Doing
Over these many difficult years, we have learned firsthand about discernment, evil people, the false, and the demonic, how to walk in the true gifts of the Holy Spirit, crucifying the works of the flesh (carnal passions and desires), and how to minister to God’s wounded without keeping them weak and dependent—so they learn to walk in faith, able to move their own mountains in God’s power.
In addition, video broadcasting, post editing, book publishing, ministry administration, systems engineering, managerial organization, along with facility procurement and project planning and implementation have all been disciplines the Lord has led us to venture into, learning as we go. All to allow this work to stand independent of hirelings who might very well shipwreck this work. We, as the core team had to step out in faith and learn the ropes and know who to work with and how to get things done right with the least cost.
Just last week a local pastor asked Pastor Mark how we are funded, and he answered simply, “The Lord.” And that is how it all started years ago—by faith with no formal backing from any denomination or rich benefactor. Rather, by individuals called by God to help in so many ways. Yes, we learned to hang on by the skin of our teeth, making do with very little as it came in by the grace of God. At times, I held down a retail job while in ministry and I am currently using my social security monthly income to help support the work. Pastor Mark and his wife invested their life savings, as they hold down full time jobs, as do the other team members work other jobs and then volunteer their extra time to help sustain the ministry.
At times, we thought it would all crash down around our ears as each of us endured fiery trials that tested our faith, keeping us humble and walking in fear and trembling.
We have ministry partners all around the world, yet it is still just a handful who are moved by the Lord to consistently stay the course with us, to pray and send in donations as best as they can. As a team, we have learned to live on the edge with Christ, and we continue to learn as we go—yes, we are common uneducated men and women who mean business with our Lord to fulfil His call upon our lives. (See Acts 4:13.)
We have held our ground and refuse to tamper with the Gospel message, as the Apostle Paul put it: “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Ministry Transition Team in Place
The Lord has been faithfully adding likeminded and gifted team members to this work. People who have a call and burden to minister to God’s wounded and facilitate true discipleship. Without going into boring details, every key position of administration and ministry leadership is being filled by the Lord. These fellow team members are experienced in managing, training, and delegating work to new staff team members as is needed. As mentioned, each team member volunteers time and supports this work financially.
Jump Start Life and Overcoming Through Christ
The last projects we are working hard to complete is the pilot program we mentioned in a previous blog—that being the Jump Start Life in Christ curriculum for the local homeless shelter and for those in severe crisis. Currently two of our team members are working at the local food bank and homeless shelter implementing this new program. When this six-week pilot program is completed we will write and publish a corresponding workbook as one of our resources for recovery. The other important resource that we are almost ready to publish is our main recovery workbook: Overcoming Through Christ God’s Recovery Program. This resource is already being used as our curriculum for our weekly recovery meetings. (These resources for helping the wounded recovery is developed by over 28 years of ministry experience, counseling, and study.)
It is important for each partner reading this post to know we are facing some real spiritual opposition, delays, and financial bumps as we press on to finish these two projects. We feel that these two programs currently under development are the last bit of work to be done before this ministry is released into the next phase. We believe the Lord is encouraging us to continue hang in there as we battle to become ready for the next phase.
Day of Visitation
Jesus rebuked Israel for not knowing her time of visitation. Likewise, Christians today are aloof to the coming hour of God’s visitation upon the world and Christianity. That hour of our final visitation is looming.
The coming days will see more devastating earthquakes, other natural catastrophes, distress of the nations, racial unrest breaking out into lawlessness with gang vigilante assaults between ethnic communities. The bitterness over the election of Donald Trump will continue as political opponents stoke the fires of hatred, paranoia, and continue to frame America as a culture of inequality. Christianity will continue to pretend America and the world will eventually settle down.
Most Christians are stuck in the devil’s end of the age passive stupor. Only a few will wake up, yet God in his mercy will visit his people one more time using his true servants to bring forth the message of “Wake up and come away from the false,” while crying out: “Christ’s return is at the doorstep!”
Many will ignore the warnings that will come with this visitation. Too many are dull to hear due to the incessant rantings from false alarmists, false prophets with dates, and false movements. So, now with the visitation about to spring forth—millions of Christians will ignore, belittle, and undermine this visitation, right as the midnight cry awakening begins in earnest—just as the priests, Pharisees, and scribes attacked and downplayed Christ first coming during Israel’s visitation.
Use the remaining time wisely and store your treasures in heaven, for without an obedient relationship with Christ, founded in Christ-like character, birthed and grown by the Lord’s discipline—you can expect terrible difficulties that could have been averted.
It is our call and mission to continue to warn and bring forth sound doctrine to help the hearer become ready—God’s way!
Your Continue Prayers and Financial Support
As we move into the next phase of this work, your continued help is vital. We want to thank each of you for your prayers, support, and patience. This time of the year is most difficult, but we trust the Lord will sustain you and direct you in ministry. and Lord willing share any extra resources to help us continue. It is our goal to continue to provide sound doctrine that addresses the needs of God’s people as the end of this age approaches.
We will not tell people what is soothing so we can stay funded by imploring church hoppers and Christian game players to attend, but rather bring forth the truth and help those we reach to become true disciples of Christ, equipped to fulfill God’s call to the ministry He ordains for each.
God bless each of you as we all look forward to 2017 and the opportunities to restore sound doctrine to the body of Christ—while there is still time.
Copyright © 2016 Charles Pretlow All rights reserved