Please bear with me...this is a bit long...but the story must be told....
Last August Mary and I were driving to a meeting. She was driving. We were still in shock and hurting from doors being closed. There were three things I knew...God is faithful, Christ is all I need, and we both still had a burden to do a ship-based ministry. A thought came to my mind....search for a Navy YP for sale....a random thought? You will never convince me of that. So I looked, and there was one for sale. I showed the picture to Mary, and said "here is the perfect boat for a ministry....there are just four issues,...we have no money, we don't have an organization (mission agency), we have no crew, and we don't have anyone to use the boat (a medical missions team).
So we just prayed....and prayed....and prayed.
I contacted the owner of the boat in late August and found out it was still available. I told the owner my plans to use the boat as a platform to support medical missions and disaster relief, and that I was a missionary that had no money. He replied that he is not a religious man. I said I was sorry to hear that, but that he was going to see a miracle happen.
One of our supporting pastors and I talked in early September and he asked if I knew Jan Milton of Operation Renewed Hope, and I replied that I knew of him, but did not know him. He suggested I call Jan since he knew we were a match made in Heaven. Well, I was not bold enough to call him, but I did email him. He replied he was very interested but he had to go to Panama and he would call me when he returned. Well while he was gone, Florence hit North Carolina, followed shortly by Michael hitting Florida. One of ORH's missions is to do disaster relief, so I knew Jan would be busy.
I took the time for Mary and me to go to Seattle to see the boat. It needs painting and to be tidied up, but no real modifications at all. I thought it was perfect for what we want to do.
I went to my pastor and asked if I could be a missionary directly out of my church, and he said yes. I told him I needed to start a 501(c)3, and asked if he would be on the board for it, and he said yes. I then told him it would take months to complete the process of setting up the organization, but I needed to raise money now and asked if he would allow the church to set up a checking account to handle the money, and he said yes. Since I was on a roll, I asked if the church treasurer could handle the money, and he said yes. Two other outstanding men agreed to serve on the board. I now had an organization.
I took two men to see look at the boat to confirm that it is the right boat (I can look at things with rose-colored glasses sometimes). They both agreed it is the right platform.
I met with Jan Milton in early January, and he was enthusiastic and excited about a boat ministry and told me to raise the money to purchase it. I now had someone to use the boat for medical missions and disaster relief. We also have an agreement with Dr Freret of BEAMS Bibles to use the boat to distribute Bibles.
Well, we needed $215,000 for the purchase and about $50,000 to move it from Seattle to Gulfport, Mississippi. The owner also said he would take a down payment and finance the balance since he knew it would take a long time to raise the money. I liked the idea but Mary said we needed the full amount and that was what she was going to pray for.
We started a GoFundMe account, and we have raised a bit less than $3000 and I am thankful for every penny that was given via that way, but it is obvious that was not to be God's way of supplying the need.
We started going to our previous supporting churches, and so far each has taken us back on for support and most have given us love offerings towards the purchase of the boat. Several individuals have also given. We returned from a trip to Mississippi and I was told a man had given $2 towards the purchase....at that moment I knew God was going to supply the need....because that man gave the widow's mite from the bottom of his heart.
Jan Milton and I started having preliminary discussions about doing a mission next February, but I need a crew. One of my supporting churches has some members that are commercial fishermen. I asked them if they would serve on the first trip and they said yes. Now I have a crew.
The owner called and told me he would reduce the price to $185,000 for a cash deal. It would be much simpler and cleaner. I thanked him and said we would work towards that. We had $35,000 total and I told him to plan to do a sea trial in April and we would complete the deal in June. I believed God would supply the need, but just in case He needed some help, I was trying to figure out how I could come up with the money. I am so silly at times.
God showed me just how silly I was. He opened a door that I did not even know existed. A supporting pastor called some friends of his that have been truly successful businessmen and they met with Jan Milton and me. At the end of the day, they gave us the amount we asked for. It was more than they normally give, and they approved it on the spot which is something they normally do not do. I had asked God to prepare my and their hearts for the meeting. He did more than I expected. We now have the money to make the purchase and relocate the boat.
I have had a front row seat to see Him do the impossible. All Glory and praise to Him. I would love to tell you my faith never waivered, but if I did, I would be lying....but through it all, Mary's did not. From the beginning until the end, she insisted God was going to give us the boat. While I was at the meeting, she was praying and in the middle of her prayers, the Lord asked her why she doubted Him..."You have asked me for this over and over...don't you know I have heard you. Get up and praise me".
We are both overwhelmed and humbled beyond belief....we have stood still and saw the salvation of the Lord...now it is time to move forward..
Please continue to pray for us. We will need to raise operating funds. Hurricane season is coming and by God's grace we will be available.