Releasing Your Grip

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Trusting God in ministry isn’t always easy. We read books and
magazines, attend workshops, and talk with mentors to become all
that we can be in ministry (and rightfully so). Yet, when we’ve
been so equipped, we often begin to trust in our methods and
strategies more than we trust in God. Deep down, many of us have
trained ourselves to be the only person we can count on.

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Thankfully, when situations in our lives spin out of our
control, we can trust that God is faithful and is always working
for our good and his glory. Walking in faith is a lifelong journey,
but the more we’re able to release control of our lives and
ministries to God, the more we’ll be able to see God’s
blessings.

How do we release our control to God, yet still walk in the
authority and power he has granted us in our ministries? We talked
to several children’s ministers who’ve done just that.

Send Me to…Minnesota?

Why would God call me to Africa? I just couldn’t understand why
a loving, caring God would rip me from my desert paradise in
Arizona and send me to Africa. It couldn’t really be God’s call.
You see, my Africa isn’t the continent on the other side of the
world. My Africa is the cold tundra, the far north –
Minnesota.

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Things were going great at church. I told God how great the kids
and families were, how supportive the senior pastor was, and how I
knew that kids in this warm desert needed Jesus. God responded only
with, “You are called.” Called to renew my commitment to this
ministry, I reasoned. Called to work with kids, and definitely not
kids in snowsuits.

I told God how wonderful our house, the park across the street,
and our neighbors were. God responded only with, “You are called.”
Again I reasoned, called to minister to my neighbors, invite people
into our home, maybe even start a small group, but definitely not
called to sit by a fire all winter. Something just didn’t feel
right in my heart, though. Kicking and screaming all the way, I
finally surrendered — with conditions. “I’ll go, God, but I need
you to promise me that we’ll have a wonderful place to live and a
minivan. That my husband will get a great job, that we’ll find the
best caregiver for our son, and that I’ll love the ministry there
just as much.” God answered with, “Immeasurably more than you could
ever ask or imagine. You are called.”

I stopped kicking and screaming and instead packed up a truck,
and we headed to Minnesota. It’s not too cold here — yet. God has
kept his promise. We live in an apartment in married student
housing where my husband will attend school — a wonderful
opportunity for ministry and a year to save money. It’s
immeasurably more than I could’ve imagined. We were offered a
minivan (with more features than we ever could’ve paid for) at a
fraction of the trade-in value — immeasurably more than I could’ve
imagined. My husband got a part-time job with amazing benefits –
only God could’ve dreamed this. My son has the best caregiver
possible — his dad. More than I could ever ask. These may seem
like petty things, but to me they add up to a confirmation.

My ministry? I’ve struggled to find my way, to let go of what I
was so blessed to have been a part of, and to grasp what lies ahead
in this new place. I’ve finally admitted that kids in snowsuits
need Jesus just as much as kids in swimsuits. It may not be
perfect. It may not be what I’d imagined all the time. Yet it’s
immeasurably more than that — because it’s what God imagined.

Courtney Wilson
Apple Valley, Minnesota


Curtain Call

During my fifth year leading the drama ministry, I was starting
to think I might be experiencing burnout. I felt like quitting, but
instead I made a mental note to bring up my concerns at the next
executive meeting. To my surprise (or was it relief?) I discovered
my co-leaders were having the same feelings. Many of our young
drama team members were creative, high-energy kids who had trouble
sitting still and listening longer than five minutes. Some kids
thought it their sworn duty to apprentice as junior directors.
Others lacked motivation except for at break time. We were out of
ideas, and we realized how much we needed God’s intervention.

We regrouped and did some heavy-duty praying about these
problems. We talked about placing our problems in the hands of the
parents. This seemed logical. Discipline begins at home.

But God was leading us elsewhere. We needed to get the kids to
be accountable to each other and — most of all, to God — for
their actions. How could we as leaders be witnesses for Christ? How
could we encourage our team members to do the same?

God gave us an idea. We created a series of skits. The leaders
wrote sketches depicting situations that had taken place in the
drama ministry. We called a special mandatory meeting and created
an atmosphere of celebration. The leaders assumed the roles of the
young people and acted out the sketches, focusing on the positive
and negative aspects of the situations they’d chosen. Soon the
children saw themselves and their actions played out before them.
We discussed each situation as it arose, and by the end of our
session, we’d laughed, cried, prayed, and rejoiced.

God guided our group that evening and caused an incredible shift
in focus. Our meetings and rehearsals are still filled with plenty
of creative energy, but there’s a difference. We’ve learned to let
go of the things that are beyond our control and to place them at
God’s feet.

Glynis Belec
Drayton, Ontario


God’s City

One morning I stayed up until 4 a.m., feeling God’s hand upon me
and my future as I prayed for God’s leading on a new music project.
The hopes and dreams I had while writing the lyrics to these songs
came spilling out as I felt inspired like never before. Songs that
tell children how wonderful heaven will be. A place where there’s
no sadness, no fear, and no unhappiness. But without a major record
label behind the project, I risked everything to raise the funds to
record and market the CD called GOD CITY.

Although here on earth there was plenty to worry about, there
was never a doubt in my mind that I had to do what God had given me
the gifts to do. Little did I know at the time that God would use
the songs to ease the fears and anxieties of the children affected
by the largest disaster in U.S. history. On Wednesday, September
12, 2001, the day after the attacks, God made it clear that years
before the airplanes even took off from the airports, he had
planned for me to declare the truth about heaven and the promise of
eternal life at just the right time. I knew why God had given me
the songs. The time had come, and I was ready to go wherever God
wanted me to go.

I was invited to distribute the CDs and perform at the Salvation
Army World Trade Center Toy Shoppe in New York City. I was excited
and enthusiastic, but then they told me that at least 12,000
children would be there to receive their free CDs.

Uh-oh! What had I done? I was in way over my head. I didn’t have
12,000 CDs or the means to manufacture them. So I was faced with a
decision: Play it safe and take a handful, or step out in faith and
have enough for every family that came.

Just a few days before Christmas, I stood right in the middle of
Union Square on the hectic and bustling streets of New York City.
For three days, I sang about eternal life in Jesus Christ and the
hope of heaven. The fact that we had the place to personally
distribute GOD CITY CDs and to sing the songs unhindered was
unbelievable. It was unlike anything I’d ever been part of. More
than 10,000 families walked away with the message of eternal
hope.

One day my wife, Karen, and I had lunch with a woman who’d
worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and was late for work on 9/11,
narrowly escaping her trip to the top of Tower One. She had
obviously lost her job and was telling us how she was coping. She
told us about how she worked as a volunteer, and one day a little
girl who was standing at the toy tables cried as she said, “I don’t
want a doll; I just want my daddy back.” We knew we were right in
the center of God’s will, and that God had sent us there with a
special purpose and an eternal message.

We returned home from New York City elated over what God did,
but honestly, the gripping fear I felt left me wondering if I’d
made the right decision. In the end, $47,000 of debt had piled up
to make the distribution happen. As always, my first instinct was
to figure out a solution, to fix the problem, and to make the debt
go away. I had much to worry about, much to answer for, and it was
beyond me to know where to turn, except to God, who had appointed
the message of GOD CITY long before I was even called Dean-o. I
remembered how God had been faithful in the past, and I knew God
was in full control this time, too.

It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve watched as God miraculously
provided just enough to meet my needs every step of the way. In
July of this year, my home church asked me to share this story with
them. The entire debt was paid in full through the generous gifts
of families touched by the story, and it’s clear now why God took
me down this road. God has changed my perspective in all that I do
through the testing of my faith. The words I sing have come alive
to me in a whole new way, turning my next project into a powerful
testament to the unbelievable resources that God gives us to live
out this Christian life.

Dean-o
Dean-o and the Dynamos
Orange County, California


Misty Anne Winzenried is a certified counselor in Seattle,
Washington. Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.

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