News From The Ranch – October 2005

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

How can we know when God is speaking to us? Sometimes it’s a matter of connecting the prayers on our heart with the answers when they come.

Dream For Africa

Dear Friends,

I had a dream back in January that’s still on my mind 10 months later. I’m somewhat hesitant to share the dream with you, because I don’t want to look like a fool, and I don’t know how some of you might feel about God speaking through dreams. But as I’ve continued to pray through and see God’s hand at work since this dream, I feel it might be helpful to share as background for why Lana and I, and our two oldest kids, are planning to take a missions trip to Africa next March.

In the dream, someone was there in my bedroom and we were talking. He was standing by the corner of one end of the dresser and I was standing at the other. I was asking him question after question and he was answering me. I didn’t remember meeting him before, but he had a distinct face and build. He was polite and helpful. He was in ministry and answering as if a ministry consultant.

I can’t remember any of the questions I asked except the last two. I asked him, “What do you do when you’ve pursued all the avenues you can think of and still don’t have much money for ministry?” I told him, “Our assets outweigh our liabilities and we’re still in the black after 10 years. But I don’t know what to do next. Do you know anything about that?”

He said, “Yes, I do. Actually, we’re doing OK in that.” Then he looked down and said, “No, we’re not.” He added, “There’s something called ‘charitable giving.’ I have (something) in my garden.” I couldn’t make out what the “something” was, but I saw him walk over to it in his garden. It looked like a footlong thermometer with something green marking the temperature line, like green mercury. He thought for another few seconds and said, “Let me pray about it. I want to ask ‘How can I serve you?’ ”

I started to wake up from the dream and wanted to ask one more question, but kept waking up. So as if reaching back into the dream I shouted back, “What is your name?” I was fully awake now and his face changed to someone I recognized. He said, “My name is Bruce Wilkinson and I’m about to expand your borders.”

That last line made me sit up in bed and I wrote down everything I could remember about the dream, which I’ve just related to you.

I’ve never met Bruce Wilkinson, but he wrote a popular book a few years ago called “The Prayer of Jabez.” Like many others, I read that book and started praying for God to expand my borders, and before I even finished the book I saw a fairly miraculous answer! (You may remember that’s when USA Today contacted me to ask if they could write a feature story about our Internet ministry in their paper) My cousin happened to meet Bruce Wilkinson one day after he spoke at her church and she shared my story with him. Bruce told her to have me post it on his website for others to see, which I did.

Later, Bruce used a brief version of my story in a study guide he wrote called “The Prayer of Jabez Bible Study.” Then in October 2004, I got a letter from his publisher asking for permission to possibly print a longer version of the story in Bruce’s sequel to “The Prayer of Jabez.” They weren’t sure yet if they were going to use it, but said they wanted to send me a complimentary copy of the book when it came out either way when the book came out in February, 2005.

Back to my dream in January, 2005…

Beyond JabezWhen I woke up, I wondered if the upcoming book might be related to how Bruce was going to “expand my borders” (as the dream version of Bruce had told me!) I was excited to think that God might publish my story, and maybe include a mention of The Ranch website in his sequel, called “Beyond Jabez.” That would certainly be one way to quickly expand my borders!

Over the next few weeks, I kept checking the mail for a copy of the book and checking the bookstores in case it came there first, which it did. When I saw it in the bookstore, I quickly skimmed through the pages, looking to see if my story or my website address appeared anywhere. I was bummed for a minute when I got to the end and it wasn’t in there.

The reason I was only bummed for a minute was because even though the address of my website wasn’t there, I saw on the back pages the address of another website. It was the website for Bruce’s new project in Africa:www.dreamforafrica.com. Lana and I had just been talking — the very night before — about wanting to go to Africa to try to help with the overwhelming problems facing that continent, something Lana has wanted to do for several years…but we didn’t know where to start!

When I got home from the bookstore, I looked up the website and found that Bruce was calling for 10,000 volunteers to come to Africa in the next year to — guess what? — plant gardens! “Never Ending Gardens,” Bruce called them, gardens that would become a lasting source of food for hundreds of thousands of people in the years to come. Then I remembered my dream, in which the dream version of Bruce wanted to show me something — in his garden! As I began to read the book more closely, Bruce used one phrase over and over in the book, asking people: “How can I serve you?” — the very same question the dream version of Bruce said he wanted to pray about asking me as well!

Up to that point, Lana had been wondering what she could possibly do to help in Africa. When I told her that Bruce’s trip involved planting gardens for 10 days she said, “I can do that!” Bruce really was about to expand our borders — not by mentioning my website in his book, but by mentioning his!

So Lana and I and the kids have spent the last several months praying about if and when and who should go. The problems in Africa are so immense that we’d like to take as many as we can. Since you have to be 13 or older to go on the trip, that meant we could only take our oldest two kids with us, Karis (14) and Lucas (13), so we decided we could be at least 4 of those 10,000 volunteers.

So last month we finally booked our trip, making the deposit with gifts from several of you who have sent us funds for that purpose. We’re planning to go to Swaziland, a country nestled within South Africa, from March 23 through April 1, 2006.

During our 10 day trip, we’ll be planting small individual gardens alongside local Africans — each of us will be planting an average of 100+ gardens while we’re there. The plants are high in immune-building nutrients to help with the rampant problem of AIDS/HIV that has attacked the immune system of so many there. (I was stunned to find out that the average life expectancy for a man in Swaziland is only 37, and for a woman it’s only 34).

So that’s how God can move people from vivid dreams to practical action! It reminded me of the action-stirring dream the apostle Paul had one night,which Luke describes in the book of Acts:

“During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:9-10)

I’ve still never met Bruce Wilkinson and don’t know if I ever will, but I’ve seen the need and heard the call, so I feel I need to respond.

Would you like to get involved, too?

We’re now in the process of raising the rest of the funds for the trip. It costs $3,395 for each of us to go, which includes everything — the starter plants themselves, gardening necessities, food, lodging and travel.

So far we’ve raised $9,054 from 82 people, which is enough for at least 2 of us to go on the trip and about 65% of the goal we need to raise by February 1st, 2006.If you could make a donation of any size to the trip, we’ll be glad to send you a reminder wristband that says “GOD IS HERE” on the front and “theranch.org” on the back — as a way to remind you to pray for our trip, and also as a reminder that God is always with you wherever you go.

You can make a donation to our trip to Africa and order a wristband here:
Make A Donation

You can find out more about Dream For Africa here:
www.heartforafrica.com

P.S. Would you believe I didn’t even catch the connection that it was a “dream” I had about Bruce Wilkinson and gardens in Africa and his organization’s name is called “Dream for Africa” until just this minute when I added their logo graphic to this page? That’s not just odd! That’s GOD!!!


Guy Grimstead’s Piano Music

MeditationThe music at The Ranch continues to be the most popular “draw” that brings people to the website. A woman wrote a few weeks ago:

“I have been here before and didn’t forget the peace that I found…..the music was what drew me and the peace is what brought me back…thanks and God Bless”

I’d like to point out one of the new CD’s added to The Ranch this year. Guy Grimstead’s beautifully rich piano music that has a quality that can make you “melt.” If you haven’t heard it yet, I hope you will soon. When I heard a few 30-second clips on his website, I played them over and over and couldn’t wait to hear the rest. I was thrilled that Guy not only sent me the CD, but allowed me to stream it to you from here at The Ranch.

As you listen, you’ll be able to hear his training in music shine through, but you’ll also hear his unique ability to spontaneously compose a song as he goes along.Would you believe that he created and recorded all of the songs on the CD on the spot? He hadn’t previously written or played any of them before! What a gift! I’m glad he shared it with us and I’m glad we’re able to share it with you. It’s perfect music for meditating, reading, working, or just relaxing and you can listen at The Ranch for free!

Click this link to listen to Guy Grimstead’s CD, “Meditation”:
Listen to the “Meditation” CD


Exodus Devotional

Join us for our new online Bible study, Exodus: Lessons In Freedom, which focuses on how to get free, stay free and set others free.

You can still join us every week for our new online Bible study of the book of Exodus. Watch or read the study at your convenience, then join us for a discussion and prayer time either on the discussion board or in the chat room at The Ranch. There’s no charge to watch or participate in this study.

Here’s a comment from a woman who has been going through the study with us, and even took communion with us in a special service over the Internet:

“I’ve just finished listening to the last Bible study with Eric and shared in the Lord’s Supper with them. I want you all to know that your starting this study was an answer to a plea to God for a Bible study….ou can only go so long without meat. And I was malnourished!!”

And this came just yesterday from a man in Singapore:

“The Ranch is like heaven to me already. I found comfort and solace with Eric’s Bible study on Exodus and others as well. Tears of joy and tears of understanding always comforted me every time I fellowship with You [God] and Eric and the guys in the Bible study room. Many a time I wish I was there with you guys. Guys, God’s presence is with you there, I can feel with my heart rained with joyful tears and comfort beyond words, though I am 1,000’s of miles away here in Singapore.”

You can join us anytime, too, at this link:
Exodus: Lessons In Freedom


CHRISTIANPODDER.COM

Christian PodderEver heard of podcasting? If not, you might take a look at christianpodder.com, which is launching a new website the week of October 24th to feature the teachings, music and inspiration of some of the best known names in Christianity today (and some of the least known, like me!)

It’s a project of LifeWay Christian Resources, a major Christian Publisher of books like Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” and Beth Moore’s online video Bible study, to name just a few.

I’m thrilled to take part in their launch and have uploaded some of my piano music already which is featured on their home page (at least for a few days anyway!) . I plan to upload a special condensed, audio version of the Exodus Bible Study (a less-than 5 minute audio program each week). You can sign up to receive these weekly studies automatically on your computer desktop in MP3 format (an audio file that you can listen to on your computer or put on your iPod music device…hence the name “podcasting.)

Check it out at: christianpodder.com

You can also sign up to get a text version of these short weekly devotionals via email from The Ranch website if you sign up for our Webcast Reminders at this link.


Closing Prayer

I’d love it if you could pray with me right now…and even drop me a note that you did!

Father,

  • Thank You for speaking to us and directing our steps, even through dreams! Thank You that You care about us and about others around the world enough to prompt us to get involved in what You’re doing.
  • Thank You for the talents of people like Guy Grimstead to bring joy and healing through their music.
  • And thank You for Your Word, which is so rich and helpful as we study it.

Father,

  • We now pray that You would equip us all to do Your work, whether it be in Africa or at any other spot on the planet. Raise up the people and the funds to truly make a difference.
  • That You would use these new technologies like “podcasting” to reach even more people with Your Word.
  • And that You would draw people from all parts of the world to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanks!
Eric Elder

P.S. Remember, if you can make a donation of any size to our trip to Africa, we’ll be glad to send you a reminder wristband! You can make a donation and request one from here:
Make A Donation

The Ranch Fellowship is a non-profit 501(c)(3) religious organization whose purpose is to share the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Click here to read more about our ministry.

To give a gift to The Ranch and to yourself, please visit The Ranch Giftshop.
To make a donation without ordering, just click Make A Donation.

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