News From The Ranch – April 2005

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Thoughts on the passing of Pope John Paul II and Terri Schiavo, a new film to encourage you to keep your eye on the goal called “Footsteps In The Snow,” and Eric’s article in “Decision” magazine.

Footsteps in the Snow

“Footsteps In The Snow”, by Russell Pond, is one of the new films we’ve just added to The Ranch.

Dear Friends,

I remember when Mother Teresa and Princess Diana died within days of each other almost seven years ago. Their lives became permanently linked together, not so much for what they had done with their lives, but by the close timing of their deaths. Mother Teresa was 87, and Princess Diana was 36.

This past week, as we watched the final days for two more people here on earth, again their lives have become etched together in many minds, not so much for what they had done with their lives, but by the close timing of their deaths. Pope John Paul II was 84, and Terri Schiavo was 41.

For all the differences in the way they may have lived and died, I was struck by one similarity they have in common with each other, and with all of us. I was reading a passage this week in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 where the Apostle Paul wrote these words about his own life almost 2,000 years ago:

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

We all have physical bodies that will eventually deteriorate. But we also all have spiritual souls that will live forever. Because we live in our bodies every day, we often focus on them. But the truth is that we are designed to live eternally.

To paraphrase the French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin:

“We are not just human beings having a temporary spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings have a temporary human experience.”

One of the secrets of living well is dying well, and the way to die well is to know for sure what will happen to us after we die. Jesus tells us we can know for sure what will happen to us after we die, if we are willing to put our faith in Him:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The Apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, put it this way:

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

If we’ve put our faith in Christ, we know that we will live with Him forever. By keeping our eyes on this eternal truth, it can make anything we face on this earth all the more bearable, and not only bearable, but we can live with confidence, certainty, and peace, for we know that there is more to life than what we see with our eyes.

Billy Graham, commenting on the death of Pope John Paul II, said:

“May his death remind each of us that some day we too must die and enter into God’s presence – and may we each commit ourselves afresh to Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation.”

That is a commitment I want to make afresh today, and I pray you will make it with me as well, even right now. Would you pray with me?

Father, I commit myself to You again today. I put my full faith and trust in Jesus Christ, knowing that He died and rose again for my salvation. Thank You Lord for taking away my sin on the cross. Thank You Lord for giving me hope and showing me how to live well by showing me how to die well. Lord, help me live for You today. Help me focus on You in a way that my troubles will seem “light and momentary,” too, just as they did for the Apostle Paul. From this moment on, I commit myself again to living my life fully for You, fixing my eyes squarely on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith. It’s in His strong and powerful name that I pray, Amen.


Footsteps In The Snow

If you need help keeping your perspective, I’d like you to watch a short film that I’ve added to The Ranch this week called “Footsteps In The Snow”. It’s only 2 minutes and 45 seconds long, but it contains a powerful message that will help you keep your eyes on the goal.

This film was created by my good friend, Russell Pond, who sent it to me a few weeks ago to ask for my thoughts on it. I happened to be in the middle of an intense writing project and was getting bogged down in the details. As I watched this film, it cleared my mind and helped me to keep before me the goal to which Christ had called me. I’ve watched it several times over the last few weeks, and each time, I’ve been strengthened in my resolve to keep my eyes on the goaland not get sidetracked by the never-ending details of life. I hope it will do the same for you!

You can watch it here in several formats, or read the transcript if for some reason you can’t see the video.

My thanks to Russ for allowing me to stream it over the Internet at no cost to you! If you like the film and would like to order a copy on DVD for use in sermons, at youth groups, on retreats, or at other venues where it may help to inspire others, just visit Russ’s website at:
http://toppup.com


“Decision” Magazine Article

Using The Gifts God Has Given You, by Eric Elder

Using The Gifts God Has Given You, by Eric Elder, for Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine, April 2005.

I’d also like to draw your attention to an article I wrote for this month’s “Decision” magazine, the monthly magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Because April 24th has been designated by a number of organizations as “Internet Evangelism Day,” the editor at Billy Graham’s magazine called me to ask if I would write about how I share my faith with others over the Internet.

I was thrilled for the opportunity to write to their 800,000 subscribers (!), not just about how I share my faith on the Internet, but how God has gifted each of us to be able to share our faith in unique ways. It’s called “Using The Gifts God Has Given You.”

You can read the article online at Billy Graham’s website at the link below, or look for it on page 30 of the print edition of April’s “Decision” magazine:
http://www.billygraham.org/DMag_article.asp?ArticleID=544

I’d also encourage you to read the entire issue of this month’s “Decision,” which features some other articles on Internet Evangelism, as well as articles on Prayer and Hearing From God written by people like Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows, Henry Blackaby, Greg Laurie, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz.

To learn more about Internet Evangelism Day on April 24th, visit this link:
http://www.internetevangelismday.com


Visitor Comments

Back at The Ranch, I thought you might like to hear the comments from a few of the visitors to the website last month:

A woman from Massachussets writes: Your website is beautiful…on the outside and the inside. Thank you very much. I will refer others to it for faith and encouragement.

A man from Canada writes: It’s my first time here, and I think I’ve been waiting for you! I pray a special blessing upon you.

A woman struggling with a lack of faith writes: Hi, thank you so much for responding to my prayer request… It was really helpful to get someone else’s view on this and to be able to be completely honest with God (and myself). … It’s not easy… I’m struggling so hard with this at the moment, wanting to surrender to him, but at the same time doubting even the Bible, let alone his love for me… I’m really torn, but i can’t expect anyone to make this decision for me… Thank you so much again for your kindness…

And a woman from Indiana writes: I just “found” this website when searching for some scripture online. I am astonished…although not sure why…I had prayed this morning for God to lead me to Him and away from my own self-centeredness, and here pops up your site with wonderful content to lead me closer to Him. How incredible to be in this Body of Christ. I’m looking forward to having some time to explore further…. Thank you for this, and thank our Heavenly Father who shows us how to use our gifts to his glory.


Closing Prayer

I’d love for you to pray with me.

Father,

  • Thank You for giving us hope that there’s more to this life than what we can see,
  • Thank You for the lives of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II and for the reminder their deaths give us to keep putting our faith in You,
  • And thank You for people like Billy Graham who can inspire us to do more to reach out to others around the world.

Father,

  • We ask that You help us keep our eyes on the goal, and not get bogged down in the details of life,
  • That You would speak to many people through the article in “Decision” magazine, to encourage them to use their gifts to share Christ with others,
  • And that You would help still more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanks for your prayers! Have a blessed day! Remember, there’s more to life than what you can see!

Sincerely,
Eric Elder

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.

Using The Gifts God Has Given You

Note from Eric:  I was asked to write an article for Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine about our Internet outreach at theranch.org for the April 2005 issue.  Here’s the text of the article, with links to the print and online versions.

Decision Magazine Cover, April, 2005, featuring Eric Elder and The Ranch inside

Cover of Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine , April, 2005, featuring an article about Eric Elder and The Ranch inside.

Using The Gifts God Has Given You, by Eric Elder

Using The Gifts God Has Given You, by Eric Elder, for Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine, April 2005.

Using The Gifts God Has Given You

by Eric Elder
for Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine, April 1, 2005

I wish I were a great evangelist. I have dreams about preaching to millions and seeing them come to Christ. But the reality is that people haven’t been knocking on my door asking me to preach in their stadiums.

But my heart, my desires and my prayers are still set in that direction. Why? Because my decision to follow Christ was so life-changing that I wish for every person on the planet to experience the same thing.

So when God tugged on my heart 10 years ago and led me to quit my secular job and go into full-time ministry, I started walking in that direction. I didn’t know exactly what He wanted me to do, but I knew that it probably would have something to do with computers. I had just finished creating a Web site for the company where I worked, so I started with what I knew.

I created my own Web site. I typed out the story of how Christ had changed my life, and I posted it on the Internet. A few days later, I got an e-mail message from a man in Athens, Greece. He read my story and asked if I would pray for him. Messages started coming in from places like Seattle; Memphis, Tennessee; and Cairo, Egypt.

Within a year, the Web site was getting more than 800 visitors a month from 72 countries. I posted more testimonies, added some music and began recording video messages to encourage people in their faith. It’s been nearly 10 years since I first posted my testimony on the Internet. Although I rarely get to preach in front of a live audience, I’ve kept walking in the direction God called me. In January more than 10,000 people from 150 countries visited the Web site.

What’s intriguing to me is that many of the people who have put their faith in Christ via my Web site have done so as a result of other people’s stories, words and videos—not just mine. A Buddhist from Malaysia put her faith in Christ after reading about another Buddhist who had done the same. A woman from Illinois was led to Christ in our chat room by a pastor’s wife who also was visiting the chat room. A man from Latvia gave his life to Christ right there in front of his computer after watching a video I had recorded of a friend sharing the Gospel in my living room.

None of these people knew much about computers, but they had a passion for sharing Christ. It wasn’t my words that won the Buddhist to Christ, or the woman in the chat room or the man from Latvia. But I feel that God has honored my desires and my prayers to reach people for Him. Through the abilities He’s given me to type, run a camcorder and create a Web site, He has allowed me to help others fulfill their passions as well.

I still wish I were a great evangelist, and I want to reach as many people as I can for Christ. Maybe you do, too. If so, look again at the gifts God’s already given you. Then set your heart, your desires and your prayers in that direction. Start walking and keep walking. God only knows how many lives could be touched as a result of your obedience to His tug on your heart.

News From The Ranch – March 2005

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Encouragement that God answers prayer and the Online Prayer/Dedication Service

Online Prayer/Dedication Service

Join us for an online prayer/dedication service.

Dear Friends,

I’d like to encourage you that God does answer prayer by sharing some excerpts from some people who recently came to The Ranch asking for prayer.

A visitor who was struggling with depression wrote:

“I was beginning to think this prayer request thing was not going to help…This is so new for me, I am not used to expressing my feelings or asking for help. …I am overwhelmed by your prayer, and that somebody whom I don’t know or have never seen, has taken time out to pray for me….Even if deliverence does not come tonight as I read your prayer for me, it has brought me a comfort that I need right now. I thank you again for sacrificing your time and praying for me, and for having no doubt that God would bring me out, for giving me hope. Thank you. And may God continue to bless and keep you, and use you to bless others even as you have been used to help me.”

A visitor who was struggling with doubt wrote:

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your most compassionate, insightful response to my prayer request. I can’t tell you how much you lifted my spirits…Since your email, I have moved closer to God. I think I felt enormous guilt for having doubts, but now I realize that all people go through times of loneliness and doubt….Bless you for responding to me in such a nonjudgmental way. I think if you had given me the standard Christian platitudes — “pray more, read your Bible more,” etc. — I would have felt completely misunderstood and even more lonely. Bless you for reading between the lines and understanding that I have a tender heart toward God. The last few days in particular I have sensed God’s presence, His comfort. I attribute that to your prayers. You stood in the gap for me when I couldn’t pick myself up and reach out to God myself. Thank you for that. We are all fellow strugglers as we walk on our respective paths. You acted as the Good Samaritan; you ran into me on the path when I was exhausted and you helped me on my way.”

I wish I could say I’ve grasped the depths of all God wants us to know regarding prayer, but I know I haven’t even come close. But I am thankful for His words of encouragement to pray as recorded in 1 John 5:14-15:

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

I hope this gives you confidence to approach God with your prayers, too.

If you’d like a quiet place to pray, just stop by “A Place to Pray” at the Ranch.

I’ve also heard a number of positive comments from people who have visited the “new” Ranch website that we announced last month.

A visitor from Australia wrote: “What a wonderful website. Lovely design. Crisp, clean. Great layout!”

And a visitor from here in Illinois wrote this glowing review: “I’d like to thank everyone at The Ranch; it is the most worthwhile site I’ve found on the web.” Of course, I’ve seen a lot of worthwhile sites on the web, but I appreciate his sentiment and I’m glad to hear that The Ranch is touching people’s lives.

If you haven’t visited the “new” Ranch website yet, I hope you’ll take a look at theranch.org. I’ve highlighted one of the new video testimonies we’ve added to the website below, as well as details about our Online Prayer/Dedication Service on Friday, March 4th.

Online Prayer/Dedication Service

For those of you who would like to join me in praying for the “new” Ranch website, and to honor those who have helped to create it, please come to our Online Prayer/Dedication Service for the website on Friday, March 4th, 2005 at 1:00 pm Central Time. I know that may be in the middle of the work day for some of you, but I tried to pick a time when people would be by their computers and could also accomodate those involved in our site from various parts of the world.

To come to the service, just meet us in the Chat Room at The Ranch at 1 pm on March 4th. There’s no special registration and you can just “watch” if you want to and pray along we go.

Click this link to visit The Chat Room at The Ranch

Closing Prayer

Whether or not you’ll be able to make it to the Online Prayer/Dedication Service, I’d love it if you would join me in prayer right now.

Father,

  • Thank You for answering our prayers, and for the encouragement that it gives us to continue to pray more,
  • Thank You for the gifts and talents of those who have worked on this new website,
  • And thank You for those who have supported this ministry prayerfully and financially to make this new website possible.

Father,

  • We now ask that You would continue to give us wisdom to share the message of Jesus Christ in the most effective ways possible,
  • That You would protect us from anything that would hinder our work,
  • And that You would help still more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanks for your prayers!

Sincerely,

Eric Elder

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.

News From The Ranch – December 2004

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Listen to some new Christmas music, and my thankfulness for Christ’s birth.

Eric Elder Family 2004

Eric and Lana Elder with Karis, Lucas, Makari, Josiah, Bo, and Kaleo

Dear Friends,

Much has happened this past year, which I’ll be talking about more in the coming months, but I wanted to send you a brief note today to just let you know how much God loves you and cares about your life. When I think about what my life would be like if Jesus hadn’t been born, it makes me appreciate His birth all the more.

When I put my full faith in Him almost 18 years ago, it completely rearranged my life – not so much in terms of what happened the next day or month or year, but in terms of setting a new path for the rest of my life, one that has since affected almost everything in my daily life since then. The choices I made over the following years, by letting God call the shots, have affected my marriage, my kids, their schooling, my work – literally every aspect of my life from sunrise to sundown, and even after the sun goes down! Had Christ not come into the world and into my life, the choices I would have made over the last 18 years would have been radically different, and my life today would be radically different, too.

I’m so thankful for His birth, and just wanted to remind you of the blessings of putting your faith in Christ. If you’ve already put your faith in Christ, I hope you’ll be able to take time over the next few days, even right now if you want, to just thank Him for coming into our world and into our lives. If you’ve never really put your faith in Christ, I encourage you to do it today. Trust Him completely for everything in your life and let Him call the shots from now on. Take Him at His Word and follow Him with your whole heart. It will make all the difference in the world, both here on earth and in the life to come.

The Perfect Gift

As you get ready for Christmas, I thought you might like to listen to some original Christmas songs that I’ve just uploaded to “The Ranch” website. My friend Al Lowry and some of his friends from Saddleback Church in California recently recorded these songs and have graciously allowed us to stream them over the Internet to you.

If you only have time for one song, try out the title song from this CD, #15, called “The Perfect Gift” by Michael J. Pelzman. It’s only a minute and a half long, but will help get you into the spirit of Christmas! Or if you have time, enjoy listening to the whole CD. We’re streaming all the songs over the Internet FREE as a gift to you!

Click here to listen to “The Perfect Gift”

2004 Elder Family Pictures

And for those of you who might be interested in our family life, we’ve just posted some updated pictures from 2004 that you can see at 2004 Elder Family Pictures.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love,
Eric Elder

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.

A Tribute To Kirk N. Albrecht

This website is dedicated to Kirk Albrecht, a good friend, computer guru and our partner in ministry. Sadly, Kirk died of a heart attack at the age of 36 on July 14th, 2004.

Below is a letter I wrote to his family and friends a few days after his passing from this life to the next. I’ve also included links at the end to letters from readers to his wife, Kelly, plus an update from Kelly on the 10th anniversary of his passing.

—————-

July 20, 2004

Kirk Albrecht and Eric Elder

Kirk Albrecht (top) and Eric Elder in 1998 installing the first computer to run The Ranch website

To the family and friends of Kirk Albrecht,

I couldn’t believe it when Kelly called to say that Kirk had died. He’s been such a permanent fixture in our lives over the years, I couldn’t imagine him being gone. Like you, I’ve spent the past few days crying, praying and reflecting on what his life has meant to me and to many others. In losing Kirk, I’ve lost my good friend, my best technical support, and my partner in ministry.

I’ve created dozens of websites over the years and many people look to me as their webmaster. But when I’ve needed technical help, I’ve always looked to Kirk. He was a webmaster’s webmaster.

The things he taught me helped me to create an Internet ministry that reaches thousands of people a month from all over the world with the message of Christ. Many times I was ready to “throw in the towel” on hosting my own websites, but Kirk would come and give me a hand and give me a smile and tell me to keep going. He was confident we would get things going again, and he was always right.

Kirk came to my rescue many times, driving from Morton to wherever my equipment was located and spending hours and hours solving a problem. One particular scene stands out in my mind.

We were in the basement of an office building in Macomb. It was about 4 in the morning after we’d worked all day trying to recover from a computer virus that struck my server. When we had finally gotten over the bulk of the problem, Kirk showed me what to do next and laid down on the concrete floor to take a break. He only got about 15 minutes of a catnap before we had to do more, but as I worked away and watched him finally getting some rest, I couldn’t help but be thankful for a man that would spend an all-nighter with me working on a computer, with no thought of compensation, with no expectation of anything in return, but simply to help out a friend. As much as I miss him now, I like to think that he’s finally getting some real rest and finally getting all of the rewards that he piled up in heaven while he was here on earth.

One of the ministries that benefitted from those all-nighters and everything else Kirk did is called This Day’s Thought. When I told my friend Greg who runs “This Day’s Thought” what had happened to Kirk, he asked if it would be OK to send out a note to his 10,000 subscribers about Kirk’s passing so that his subscribers could say thanks and pray for Kirk’s family.

Within minutes of sending out the announcement, notes began pouring in from around the world. I’ve collected them here as a tribute to a man who worked behind-the-scenes to make a difference in the lives of so many – including mine.

With much love,
Eric Elder

Click Here To Read The Letters Fom Readers

Click Here To Read An Update From Kelly Albrecht, 10 Years Later

News From The Ranch – November 2003

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Watch Videos from the “Week of Hope” Online

Week of Hope Banner

You can watch videos of the Week of Hope online at weekofhope.com.

Watch “Week Of Hope” Videos Online

Thank you to everyone who prayed for and was involved with our “Week of Hope” here in Streator, Illinois (USA).  Your prayers and efforts made it a tremendous success.

You can now watch the videos of all the testimonies, dramas, videos, music and messages on the Internet anytime!  Just go to www.weekofhope.com and click “Watch Videos.”

(It’s all great, but if you wanted to just watch a portion, I’d suggest watching the last 20-30 minutes of the Sunday night program.  Start with “I Can Only Imagine,” then watch my message, followed by Rick Jepsen’s testimony and the final invitation.)

I also wanted to share just a few of the results with you.  We had an average attendance of 340 people each night, with a total of 1,350 in attendance over the course of the four nights.

Since our goal for the event was to encourage people to put their faith in Christ for everything in their life, I was really excited to see that:

  • 323 people indicated on their comment cards that even though they were already believers in Christ, they were putting their faith in Him for a particular situation in their life.
  • 6 people indicated they were believing in Christ for the very first time.
  • 9 people indicated that they hadn’t yet made a decision, but were seriously considering putting their faith in Christ.
  • We had a total of 336 people who indicated that their level of faith in Christ had increased or at least stayed the same as a result of the event.

I truly believe that when we can increase people’s willingness to put their faith in Christ, all kinds of things can happen.  Jesus said,

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20b, NIV)

Thanks again for your prayers and I hope you enjoy watching the event as well.  I just heard from someone in California who was watching it at midnight and wrote:

“I’ve been watching the ‘Week of Hope.’  I feel like I’m there. Great job. God is smiling.”

Again, to watch any of the event, just go to www.weekofhope.com and click “Watch Videos.”

Please Pray With Us

Father, we thank You for increasing the faith of the people in Streator through the “Week of Hope.”

We pray that You would continue this work now via the Internet to increase the faith of people all over the world.

And finally we pray that more people will find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanks again!
Eric Elder

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

News From The Ranch – October 2003

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Time for a Week of Hope, new board members, and more new music with the “Sweet Dreams” CD.

Streator Water Tower

Please pray for the city of Streator, where we are just days away from launching the Week of Hope, a city-wide outreach to be held at 7 pm nightly on October 9, 10,11 and 12th at the Streator High School Auditorium.

Week Of Hope

I just heard a woman say,

“I can’t wait for the Week of Hope. I just get excited every time I think about it. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do.”

I can’t wait either! I’ve been planning this event for more than a year along with more than a dozen churches and a hundred people working behind the scenes.

The focal point for the Week of Hope is 4 nights of special services to be held at the Streator High School Auditorium over Columbus Day Weekend. Each night we’re featuring powerful stories of people right here in Streator, Illinois whose lives have been changed by Jesus Christ. We’ll also have music, drama and videos to make the night both entertaining and life-changing. I’ll be speaking each night, giving an invitation for others to put their hope in Christ as well.

We’re praying that God would use the Week of Hope to let His Spirit flow throughout Streator like water from a water tower.

In fact, there’s a water tower near my house and it’s HUGE. Water flows through it into underground pipes all over the city. Whenever someone wants to take a drink, or water their lawn, or clean their clothes, they just turn on the faucet and the water flows.

We pray that the Week of Hope will do the same thing for those who are spiritually thirsty, who want to grow, or who want to clean up their lives. The Bible says we really can be “washed” by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul lists a variety of sins in his letter to the Corinthians. But then he adds:

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthian 6:11, NIV).

Better Than Reality TV

One of the benefits of planning this event is that I get to taste the fruit even before the harvest begins. I met this week with ten of the people who will be sharing their testimonies during the Week of Hope. It was a moving time, even though we were “just rehearsing.” Tears flowed as person after person told about what Christ had done in their lives.

One woman showed the scars on her wrists where she tried to commit suicide several years ago. It brought tears to my eyes to think about the spiritual impact she’s had on our community since that time…when she could have just as easily been dead. What a loss had she not put her hope in Christ.

Another couple told how their lives were shattered when one of their sons was born severely mentally retarded. Their first response was to shake their fists at God. But then a pastor helped them understand that God cried along with them. As a result, they put their hope in Christ, went into ministry, and now several of their other children are also in full-time ministry. Who knows how many multiple lives have been touched as a result of their putting their hope in Christ.

This is better than reality TV. These are real lives…with real change. You can read these stories of hope for yourself at the Week of Hope website: www.weekofhope.com.

Body-Lifting Music

I was also able to sit in on a few of the music rehearsals for the Week of Hope a few nights ago. As I listened, I could hardly keep my hands down! It felt like there was an invisible force pushing my hands up in praise to God. I was taking some pictures to put in the newspaper and finally just stopped and let my hands go up!

My friend Kent Sanders has organized four different worship teams to lead worship each night, made up of the many talented musicians in town. It’s hard to be surrounded by the sounds of drums and congas, flutes and cellos, guitars, pianos, keyboards, violins (not to mention the soothing breath of the human voice) and not be lifted up. It lifts my body as well as my soul.

As you can tell, I’m fairly immersed in the Week of Hope and the Spirit’s already beginning to flow. I’m telling you all of this for three reasons:

1) Please pray for the Week of Hope, that God will use it to send His Spirit throughout Streator and, through the videos we hope to put on the Internet afterward, throughout the world.

2) Please come to the Week of Hope! For some of you, that might be a short drive. For others of you, I know it’s half-way around the world! But if you’re able to come, I hope you’ll make it for at least one night if not all four.

3) Please visit the Week of Hope website if you need a boost in your own faith. You can read the testimonies there already, and if you’ll visit it again later in October, we plan to have the video online of the event itself.

(For those who want to stay for the weekend, we have a couple of hotels in town: Super 8 at 815-672-0080 or Town & Country Inn at 815-672-3183. Again, the Week of Hope starts at 7 pm nightly on October 9, 10, 11 and 12.)

New Board Members

I also wanted to let you know that we’ve just added some new board members to our ministry. I believe their input will help us to grow our ministry in many ways and make The Ranch website much more dynamic in the future. Those joining me on the board include:

  • Brent Knapton, Director of an international missions organization in Texas;
  • Steve Knight, Senior Editor in the Internet Department of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in North Carolina;
  • Al Lowry, Founder of Guitarists Into God (GIG), a music ministry at Saddleback Church in California, and
  • Dan Mountney, Video Director at Kensington Community Church in Michigan.

I’m thankful for these men who are making a difference in their own ministries, and are willing to feed into our ministry as well. Please pray that God will use our combined efforts to reach even more people with the message of Christ.

Please Pray With Us

Father, we thank You:

  • for still changing lives every day;
  • for bringing people and churches together in Streator to create the Week of Hope;
  • and for bringing new board members to direct this ministry.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for many to be washed by Your Spirit during the Week of Hope;
  • for new growth in this ministry through the new board members;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.

News From The Ranch – June 2003

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

A new “What God Says” CD, invitation to the “Week of Hope” in Streator, and offer to visit you if you live in the US.

If you need an encouraging word from the Lord, you’ll enjoy listening to this collection of “What God Says” about various topics, read by Lana to some beautiful music. You can listen anytime here on The Ranch, or request the CD at The Ranch Giftshop.

If you need an encouraging word from the Lord, you’ll enjoy listening to this collection of “What God Says” about various topics, read by Lana to some beautiful music. You can listen anytime here on The Ranch, or request the CD at The Ranch Giftshop.

What God Says

We’ve recently put all six of Lana’s pocket-sized CD’s onto one full-sized CD so you can listen to over 30 minutes of encouragement from God’s Word anytime. We continue to get comments from people who listen to them on the web and on CD like these:

“I wake up to them and go to sleep by them each night. Your wife’s voice is very soothing and does not obstruct the message.”

Our hope is that by combining all of the individual CD’s into one collection they will be even more convenient and helpful to people who need encouragement. The CD contains some of the most encouraging verses from the Bible about “What God Says” about Prayer, Healing, Missions, Ministry, Temptation and Fear. The scriptures on this full-sized CD are read by Lana Elder and accompanied by original music from Eric Elder, Chuck Giacinto, Brent Mitchell and Kent Sanders.

You can listen to the complete tracks on The Ranch website by clicking on “Listen to Music” You can also request a copy of the full CD for yourself or for a gift atThe Ranch Giftshop.

Keep Praying!

I’ve just been reading one of the most encouraging lines found in scripture.It comes just after Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife. Genesis 25:21 says:

“The Lord answered his prayer…”

I love that God not only hears our prayers, but answers them, too. I think we often get discouraged in praying because we’re not sure if our prayers really make a difference. But throughout the Bible, we read about people who prayed and about God who answered their prayers.

Here’s another great line that follows a prayer said by Manasseh:

“And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.” (2 Chronicles 33:13).

The Lord not only listened to Manasseh’s prayers, but was moved by them. This is even more amazing to me when I read that Manasseh was no saint. He had seriously sinned against God and lead others to do the same. But when he turned from his sins, humbled himself and cried out to God, God was moved and answered his prayers.

Our prayers do make a difference. God does hear them…and is moved by them. Keep praying! And when you see the answers, you will know “that the LORD is God.”

Week of Hope

I mentioned in my last newsletter that I’m leading an event this fall here in Streator called the “Week of Hope.” I was surprised to hear later from people as far away as Africa who wanted to come!

I thought I’d take a minute to specifically invite you to join us, too. October is a beautiful time in Illinois and the fall leaves should be at their peak during the event!

The “Week of Hope” is sponsored by more than a dozen churches in town, so there is no cost to you to attend the event itself. We have two inexpensive hotels in town to make your stay very affordable (Super 8 at 815-672-0080 or Town & County Inn at 815-672-3183).

We’ll be meeting at the Streator High Auditorium at 7pm each night for four nights from October 9-12th (Columbus Day Weekend). You’re welcome to join us for one, two, three or all four nights! I’ll be speaking each night on the topic of the hope we can have in Christ, and we’ll have great music and powerful testimonies each night of how Jesus Christ can change lives.

You can find out more at the “Week of Hope” website, complete with videos and a radio interview that describes the event. Take a look at: www.weekofhope.com.

On the Road

I’m going to be traveling around the US the next several months, giving people an update on our ministry and inviting them to join us as one of our regular financial supporters of our ministry.

I thought this would also be a good time to meet with some of you, many of whom I’ve only met so far over the Internet. If you’d be interested in a personal visit, I’d be glad to meet with you! Aside from raising support for our ministry, I hope it will give me a chance to encourage you in your faith as well. I’d be glad to meet in your home, or share my testimony with your church or small group, or even lead a few worship songs on the piano if you’d like!

Someone has graciously offered to help with my travel expenses for these trips, so there would be no cost to you if I’m already heading your way. I’d just need to know if you’d be interested in having me stop by. I’m still working on my travel schedule, so if you would be interested in a visit, just let me know!

Online Training for Online Evangelists

A few months ago I was able to get a preview of a new online training course for people interested in sharing their faith over the Internet. The course is now complete and I’d highly recommend it to anyone of any age reading this newsletter. The course is designed “to help believers effectively share Jesus with other people who are online. This includes people encountered via e-mail, chat rooms, discussion boards, Instant Messaging, and every web page. …”

It’s self-paced and there’s no cost, except the time you put into it. To go through the course, visit: www.webevangelism.org/otoe

While I’m recommending websites, I’ve been enjoying watching a series of video messages from Bill Hybels called “28 Days of Telling the Truth.” You might enjoy it, too, at: willowcreek.com

Please Pray With Us

In case you missed our email announcement, thank you for your prayers for the birth of our 6th little baby, Kaleo Breese Elder. She’s now 3 months old and doing great. You can still look at her webpage (complete with Brady Bunch music) at ericelder.com/kaleo.

By the way, my 75Mhz laptop is finally on its last legs. If anyone has something with a little more power that they’d be willing to donate, it would be a blessing! We’re also on the lookout for 5 to 10 PC’s that we could use for doing some computer training. If you know of someone or a company who might be able to donate such equipment, please let us know!

Father, we thank You:

  • for the birth of Kaleo Breese;
  • for encouraging us through Your Word;
  • and for hearing our prayers and answering them;

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for hearts to be prepared for the upcoming “Week of Hope;”
  • for Your direction in our travel plans;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.

News From The Ranch – February 2003

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Year-end statistics, new music on The Ranch, and an upcoming live event in Illinois.

Eden, by Marilyn Byrnes

We’ve added some new piano music to the website to encourage you in your quiet time with the Lord. It contains a collection of classical and inspirational songs that I helped my sister record, including a song I wrote especially for her to play called “Marilyn’s Theme.”

Dear Friends,

We’re just days away now from the birth of our 6th child (at least we think we’re days away…Lana’s due on Feb. 26th, but she’s always been early so far). We’d appreciate your prayers for Lana and the baby and our whole family this month. (Those may sound like routine prayers, but for anyone who’s been involved in the birth process, you know those prayers are precious!)

We’ve included a picture of our family here that we’d love for you to print out and use as a reminder to pray for us and our ministry (even though it will be quickly outdated!) We appreciate that many of you have written to let us know that you do pray for us. We’d love if you would put this prayer card on your refrigerator or in your office or tuck it in your Bible…anywhere that you might see it regularly and remember to pray. We’ve listed some prayers at the end of this letter that you can cut out and keep near the picture if you’d like some ideas of what we need prayer for.

Eric Elder Family 2003

Eric Elder Family 2003

Knowing that many of you have prayed for us this past year, we also thought you might like to see a glimpse of how your prayers were answered. I’ve posted on our website some excerpts from a number of “thank you” notes we received this past year from people who visited The Ranch. While many of these are addressed to me and Lana, their notes of thanks extend directly to you as well, for without your prayers and support, we wouldn’t be able to reach out the way we do. I hope that as you read through these notes, you’ll be able to read them as personal notes of thanks to you as well for your prayers for this ministry. You’ll find them by clicking Quick Stats and Notes of Thanks.

I especially like to see notes that come from people who visit The Ranch needing a boost in their faith, and leave having gotten it, like this note from Louisiana:

“We’ve been facing some severe financial struggles recently and while our faith is deeper than ever, and we know we are tucked safely under the Lord’s wing, your site – the music – helped release a few of my hidden fears that seem tucked behind the nooks and crannies of my soul. I arrived feeling spent, but leave feeling refreshed.”

Although I can’t print all of the notes here, I hope you’ll read through the excerpts on the website to know that God is still in the life-changing business. I’ve also included along with the notes a few quick stats from last year, like these:

  • Total visitors during 2002: 85,000+
  • Total visitors over 5 years: 200,000+
  • Average number of visitors per day: 250+
  • Number of countries visitors come from: 150+
  • Number of emails requesting prayer and encouragement: 485
  • Longest email received: 5,231 words
  • Shortest email received: 1 word (Help!)

To read more, visit: Quick Stats and Notes of Thanks.

New Music

For those of you who like piano music and would like to spend some quiet time with God, we’ve just added a new full-length CD to the website that I helped my sister record called “Eden.” If you’ve heard her Christmas music on our site, you already know that she’s a gifted pianist and her music is both calming and inspiring. This new CD features a natural combination of classical and relaxing music, such as Für Elise, Clair de Lune, On Eagle’s Wings and Brahm’s Lullaby. It also features a song I wrote especially for her to play called Marilyn’s Theme.

You’re welcome to listen to this music on the website anytime you want, as often as you want, as our gift to you. If you’d like a copy for your home, or car, or for a friend, just visit The Ranch Giftshop. While you can listen to the music on the site free of charge, we do ask for a suggested donation for the CD’s as a way to help our ministry reach out to more people. Click this link to Listen to Eden.

Real Lives, Real Change

We’ve also posted some new testimonies on the website: one from a man named Peter from England who was scarred for life as an infant when his house caught on fire. His life went from bad to worse until Christ reached down and gave him a new life. The other is from a woman named Vicki who suffered from severe abuse and eventually mental illness until she finally “challenged God to prove himself.” He did, and now she’s free of the pain and torment she suffered for years (just like the man that Christ set free in Mark Chapter 5). You can read these true-life stories (and more) by clicking their links above or visiting Stories At The Ranch.

I believe that testimonies like these are so valuable for encouraging people to put their faith in Christ that we’re planning a live event this fall here in Streator, Illinois, to showcase testimonies of people in this area whose lives have also been touched by Jesus. In my role as President of the Streator Ministerial Association, we’re coordinating this multi-day event as a city-wide outreach sponsored by the cooperating churches in town.

I’d appreciate your prayers as we attempt to reach out to thousands of people in the area by showing them that Jesus Christ still changes lives today. I can’t describe what an incredible burden I feel in leading this event, as well as the incredible opportunity I see before us to touch countless people. Please pray for me, for the churches involved in the planning, and for those who will be touched by Christ Himself. If you could stop and pray for a minute even before reading on, I’d really appreciate it (and so will those whose lives will be changed by your prayers. If you want to see it in person, come on over! We’re a couple hours drive southwest of Chicago. The planned dates are October 9-12th.)

Take Heart

As a final encouragement, I want to remind you of a phrase that I find repeatedly in scripture:

“GOD IS WITH YOU.”

These words were spoken to Abraham (Genesis 21:22), Saul (1 Samuel 10:7), David (1 Chronicle 17:2), Solomon (1 Chronicle 28:20), groups of people (Zechariah 8:23), cities (Zephaniah 3:17), and whole countries (Isaiah 45:15). As David said these words to Solomon, I want to say them to you:

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you.”

Call on the name of Jesus and you can be sure that GOD WILL INDEED BE WITH YOU, TOO.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for growing our family;
  • for growing our ministry;
  • and for growing the number of friends we’ve met in Your name.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for Your protection on our family;
  • for Your guidance for our ministry;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

We ask this all in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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.

Quick Stats And Notes Of Thanks – 2002

A collection of statistics and short excerpts of thanks from emails from 2002.

Monthly Visitors to The Ranch

Quick Stats

Visitor Information:

  • Total visitors during 2002: 85,000+
  • Total visitors over 5 years: 200,000+
  • Average number of visitors per day: 265
  • Average length of time a visitors spends on The Ranch: 13 minutes, 21 seconds
  • Number of countries visitors come from: 150+
  • Number of CD’s mailed out during 2002: 175
  • Emails received requesting prayer or biblical advice: 485 emails from 262 people.
  • Gender breakdown for emails: 40% male; 60% female

Top 10 issues from email correspondents:

  • Relationships with others (marriage, divorce, boyfriends/girlfriends) (48 people – 18% of total)
  • Health (physical, emotional, mental) (33 – 13%)
  • Sexuality (temptation, pornography, homosexuality) (33 – 13%)
  • Ministry (personal, professional) (30 – 11%)
  • Finances (money, job, career) (20 – 8%)
  • Relationship with God (wanting to grow in their love, faith, or knowledge of Him) 18 – 7%)
  • Salvation (for themselves, for others) (13 – 5%)
  • Anger (toward God, church, or others) (13 – 5%)
  • Depression (12 – 4%)
  • Other (schoolwork, court cases, direction, etc.) (42 – 16%)

More Stats:

  • Number of volunteers who help us answer emails: 20 (10 regular; 10 occasional)
  • Percentage of people who wrote back to us a second time: 34%
  • Percentage who wrote back 3-5 times: 6%
  • Percentage who wrote back more than 5 times: 2%
  • Longest email received: 5,231 words!
  • Shortest email received: 1 word (Help!)

Notes Of Thanks

1/1/02 – Thanks for seeing me through all my past…I really appreciate all your encouragement…bye for now, S.P. / CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
1/1/02 – A wonderful site Pastor Elder, I will recommend it to everyone I know. T.M. / GRANVILLE, ILLINOIS
1/1/02 – I also wanted to tell you how great things are going with me and my pastor. We are really developing a great friendship…I overheard him tell his wife the other day that I was his best friend! Can you believe that??? You really discerned that one well. I’m so glad I told him…and I probably would not have done that if you had not prodded me along. Thanks for your advice and thanks for being my friend. A.
1/3/02 – Brother, Truly touched to see what God did in you and now through you. May our heavenly Father continue to bless you, Lana, your children and the ministry He has entrusted to you. Shalom, J.T. / SEAFORD, NEW YORK
1/4/02 – Your testimony is a blessing from God! V.H.
1/5/02 – Praise the Lord! Your site is so wonderful…thanks so much for blessing me and the millions of people who stop by! I love the music and my favorite song is “Clear My Mind.” I would love to add a link to your website on my websites. S.L.
1/6/02 – Dear Mr. Elder: Thank you so much for your website! It has been such a blessing to me. The Lord really touched me while I was listening to your “Clear My Mind” CD. I really appreciate your ministry and pray the Lord will continue to bless it and you. S.S. / SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND
1/7/02 – Eric, Thanks for the return email. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your accountability, prayers, and guidance. Thanks again for your support, encouragement, and walking with me through the fire. C.
1/9/02 – Thank you for this unique website. In His love, D.M.
1/11/02 – Thank you and God bless you and your family and the wonderful work you are doing for Him! Your brother in Christ, P.A. / PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
1/11/02 – Hi Eric, You wrote an AWESOME essay (on human cloning)!! I especially loved the very compassionate close. Way to go! Your follow-up questions were so good I put them on our website because I thought other people would benefit from it. S.B. / PROBE MINISTRIES / DALLAS, TEXAS
1/12/02 – I love your site. God bless you. L.L. / WACO, TEXAS
1/18/02 – I love this website so much! 🙂 It’s great. I enjoyed the music a lot! Most websites don’t provide the complete tracks of the CDs, but you guys provided many options to the listeners. Keep it up! L.L. / STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA
1/19/02 – Thanks very much for taking the time to put together this website!! May God Bless. C.J. / INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI
1/21/02 – Great Site! I have added your site to my Personal Homepage. God Bless. L.R. / TENNESSEE
1/24/02 – Keep up the great work. Have a great and Godly Day! Love and Prayers, C.A. / KELLER, TEXAS
2/2/02 – I thank God for giving you this vision and realising it. The messages have especially uplifted me in my spiritual wilderness. Thanks. I have been greatly ministered by this web-site and will introduce it to my friends! =) T.V. / SINGAPORE
2/5/02 – The first time I saw your site while surfing, I was highly impressed and will like to meet you personally during my forthcoming visit to the U.S. Pls. give me full details of how I can meet you during the period. Looking forward to hearing from you very soon. God bless. A.O. / LAGOS, NIGERIA
2/7/02 – It is very good. M.E. / IRAN
2/7/02 – Dear Eric: I read your testimony on the net. It was very nicely written. Thanks, D.S.
2/11/02 – Eric, I enjoyed your ministry very much. It was exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for a little boost in my faith, and thank God I found it thru you. I would like to give my individual thanks for your fine web pages of encouragement. I can only imagine all the long hard hours of work you put in it. It really shows. Again, Eric, thanks and may God bless you and all your helpers. J.K. / CARMI, ILLINOIS
2/13/02 – Dear Eric and Lana: Thank you for your prayers and interest in B. She is doing so much better. We wish you well in your ministry and believe that it will reach hurting people who would not go to a conventional church. J.B.
2/15/02 – What a blessing from God I have had today from reading some of your question and answer sections, and listening to some music and scripture selections! It is helping me to continue to hear the Lord on a huge Web site project ministry He has embarked me on. I feel as if I am to promote your Web site ministry on my Web sites. I will be in touch with you about this in a couple of month’s time. Blessings to all of you. All praise and glory to Christ Jesus! D.S. / OTTAWA, CANADA
2/17/02 – I really enjoy your web sight. It’s the best one out there so far that I’ve found. Thanks for taking the time for creating this awesome and powerful tool for God. S. / BURLINGTON, IOWA
2/19/02 – Erik, I didn’t expect you to respond again; I’m sure you have a lot of other things to do, but thank you. D.S.
2/19/02 – I just still can’t understand why people believe in god. I don’t and I live a regular but happy life! L.X. / LEUVEN, BELGIUM
2/19/02 – Very peaceful, and spiritually uplifting. Loved the music on the “Clear My Mind.” God Bless You! J.S. / HARTFORD, WI
2/19/02 – Dear Eric Elder, Greetings, Thanks for your kind words for me and my ministry. God bless you and your ministry. With best regards, Yours in Christ, T.I. / PAKISTAN
2/21/02 – Thank You for a wonderful site & newsletters. M.W. / AURORA, COLORADO
2/22/02 – This is the most wonderful web-site the Lord has brought me too! Many many blessings, K.Y. / NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
2/22/02 – A good and well ordered site. Thanks to God for many people who patronizes his mighty name. J.S. / CAM SURE, PHILIPPINES
2/28/02 – Thanks for just being there. Thanks for your prayers. D.L.
3/1/02 – Hello Eric! I’m approaching the first anniversary of my salvation with a still deeper joy and a much stronger faith. Thank you for your prayers and for your practical aid in helping me with those first steps with our Savior! One of the reasons I’m writing this letter is also to share with you how the Lord has helped me – in serving Him. I guess it was last September when I first sent you the URL of the start-up website of our church: www.matejs.lv. The good news is that thanks to God’s help the site is now up and running and fully functional for more than 4 months already. No doubt, it was largely my own special story of conversion that motivated me to take up this ministry. I’m praying that God would continue to bless your ministry and that many more would trade their sins for forgiveness and find their way to Christ through your work! What’s most important, by now we know of at least two people who have come to our church and accepted Jesus through the direct help of this web-site. And they will soon both join the church in baptism. (Man, “What a chain reaction!” you must be thinking! :)) Yes, God works in unbelievable ways! Many more have told that the site has been a blessing to them and has served as a refuge from the haste and violence that fills the secular media. A.S. / RIGA, LATVIA
3/11/02 – Dearest brother Eric, Christian greetings. Thank you very much for your great love and blessed prayer for me. I cannot tell you in words how much happy I am. My heart is really full of Joy and love to have such brother who can pray for me and ministry we have here. Prayer is really a powerful tool in ministry. That is prayer who is encouraging us to continue the Great Commission. Your sincere prayer is very valuable asset for me and I hope you will continue to pray for me. God bless you and family and especially the wonderful ministry you have for the glory of God. Your brother, P. / PAKISTAN
3/12/02 – Thank you. M.
3/17/02 – It is a pleasure for me to write this mail to you. May the all mighty GOD bless YOU. E.H. / CAMEROON, AFRICA
3/21/02 – Glad I found this sight. I hope to be emailing you often. But for now I am very happy that the Lord directed me to you. Seems as though I have much to say – don’t know where to begin and afraid to hope. Just glad you and your wife are there for us. C.B. / SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
3/26/02 – The stories in here are so spiritually healing for me. I want to thank you all for this site. L.L. / COALGATE, OKLAHOMA
4/3/02 – Thank you for your music and all your ministry sites – they have been more than a blessing! Thanks again. You’re a great man of God, Eric. HIS Love and gentleness and kindness is sent out in you. Blessings to you and your family, D.S. / SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS
4/5/02 – I have just come across your website while looking for an article on friendship for an assignment. It seems God desired to speak to me through the words of wisdom found on this website. R.R.
4/13/02 – Dear Eric and Lana. Thank you for all the times which you encouraged us through your internet ministry and emails. Although we had sad times, God sustained us by His grace. By God’s faithfulness, we have now a healthy boy who was born on the 21st of March. Praise the Lord! Thank you Eric and Lana. If you ever drop by Singapore, do let us know. In Christ, J. & L. / SINGAPORE
4/18/02 – Thank you for such a quick response!! I will pass this along. Love, K.N. / GRIDLEY, ILLINOIS
4/19/02 – Hello Eric, I am an 18 year old female. I live in Amman – Jordan. I am Christian and I am proud I am. I was going through the web the other day looking for cool songs to download when I found the ranch site. I was deeply touched by this site and especially by your story! I cried, but my tears where tears of happiness for I felt happy for your happy ending! Being a teenager, you know how sometimes life becomes kind of hard for us to live in. Sometimes I forget to pray to my Lord Jesus Christ, and many times I’ve committed a lot of sins, but deep down I knew that I was wrong so I used to go back and pray. But I used to repeat the sins, but today after going through the site and reading stories, and yours especially, I felt different! I felt that this time due to my faith in Jesus I am becoming some one different. I really felt that Jesus has touched my heart by your story. I wanna be a real CHRISTIAN and thanks to this site, your GREAT MUSIC and your story, I am now. I can feel it and U CAN’T IMAGINE HOW HAPPY I AM ! I FEEL COMPLETLY DIFFERENT. I want u to pray for me, to become a better person so I could spread the love of Jesus to everyone I know just like u. 🙂 Thank You Very Much for changing my life for the BEST. 🙂 Z.M. / AMMAN, JORDAN
4/21/02 – Just a quick “Thank you” for sharing your beautiful gifts and I thank God for giving them to you. My daughter and I are enjoying your exquisite music on “Clear My Mind”. B.L. / FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA
4/19/02 – Eric, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you, and thank you again! I can’t tell you what a difference you’re making in our lives right now. You are truly a vessel here as well. Thank you so much for being willing to put yourself so completely in the middle of something that isn’t even your fight and to show such love and compassion to two people you really barely know. Thank you to Lana too for her obvious understanding in what you do to help others, and thanks and praise to God for his amazing love and power!!!! Your filling in, words of encouragement, and scriptural reminders. They are like life blood to me right now, almost like I am a new Christian in the midst of all that is happening around me. Even though I’ve never liked the term, in many ways, perhaps I am being “reborn” through this experience, wherever the outcome leads me. My viewpoint and terminology right now is that I’ve had my own personal epiphany. And because I want my heart and mind to continually be in the right place to deal with this, whatever may happen, I’m turning to God more now than I ever have in my life. I will never be able to repay you for what you’ve already done. I’ll keep on saying it: Thank you. L. / WHEATON, ILLINOIS
4/27/02 – Eric, your emails are really encouraging bro. God is really using you to be a light for me in this time of grayness. Please do keep writing. My most fervent prayer for blessings, B.M.
4/29/02 – It’s only GOD Himself that can reward you on your calling that you have taken with passion. Today was my first time of visiting this ministry’s site, I must confess that I’m inspired by your good work. F.A. / LAGOS, NIGERIA
5/1/02 – I had looked at your site a few times before, but this evening, after enduring a VERY long and trying day, I logged on to my computer and went to your site and really received a blessing when I listened to your talk about “rest.” Thanks for all you do to spread God’s word and to encourage others in the faith. You are a blessing. C.B. / STREATOR, ILLINOIS
5/4/02 – Thank you. T.B.
5/7/02 – I really love your wonderful site. I have learned many new things and would like to thank you for giving me that experience. C. / JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
5/10/02 – This Ministry is so challenging, inspired and worth calling me to join it from here in Uganda. Read Philemon 21. Yours, D.L. / KAMPALA, UGANDA
5/12/02 – Thank you for the piano music. Very encouraging and comforting to me. T.N. / SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
5/12/02 – Eric, thanks a lot for your care. I shall never forget that I’ve been saved by your Website when I visited it by chance on that terrible night. It helped me a lot. I’m grateful to you & Lana for such simple, lovely & soothing broadcasts of both of you. I’m also so grateful to you when you e-mailed me with your sound & caring notes. I really needed them so badly at that time when I felt inside me that I’m a rejected woman. I really feel I owe you. I wish I can repay you one day. Be sure I never forget “Good Deeds”. God Bless you & your sweet family. M. / CAIRO EGYPT
5/15/02 – VERY GOOD SITE. A. / AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND
5/15/02 – Very inspirational reading material through the anointing of the Holy Ghost. It is highly commendable and I am sure the Lord will bless you abundantly. God bless you C.S. / ATLANTA, GEORGIA
5/18/02 – I very much enjoy your music. Thank you for your generosity. Your Brother in Christ, R.D. / CLARKS SUMMIT, PENNSYLVANIA
5/19/02 – I just “fell” on your site – I do not know how. But your work is an inspiration to me. God is doing a good thing through you. I really appreciate the “relaxing” tone and the focus on His word. We are desperate for God ‘s word and at times hardly know it. Thank you again. L.B. / CANTON, MICHIGAN
5/20/02 – May the Good Lord richly bless your ministry. J.A. / AMMAN, JORDAN
5/22/02 – Very nice website in its simple elegance. Lots to see and do, none of the bothersome intense graphics that slow down page loading (Flash animations, etc) and an obviously dedicated Christian making it all work. Well done! M.M. / COOS BAY, OREGON
5/23/02 – I loved your site y’all.. Absolutely was wonderful and I feel your site had a wonderful message of faith and love for God without being strange or over the edge or pushy. Thank you for touching my heart. C.S. / FORT WORTH, TEXAS
5/25/02 – Your ministry is wonderful!!! M.D. / LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
5/27/02 – God bless you. this is also a child of god who is also in love with him completely and that is a beautiful story and yes I believe that god can do anything. You are a very blessed man don’t you ever for get that. It’s good to know that our brothers and sisters in Christ are doing God’s will over the Internet and people are getting blessed and being saved, hearing the miracles of what our father Jesus Christ is doing. You and your Family have a Blessed Day… A.S. / NEW LONDON
6/2/02 – Dear Eric and Lana, I just got done listening to your broadcast “It’s Never to Late”. It was very encouraging to me. C. / HOUSTON, TEXAS
6/8/02 – Dear Brother Eric, Greetings from Japan in the Name of our Lord; We are so moved and encouraged through your prayer. We are so thankful that you have shown much understanding for our home. We are sure our Lord showed you our hardness. We will pin up your words of prayer on the wall of our home. You are one of our real brothers. God bless you! With much thanks and love, M.F. / MIE-KEN, JAPAN
6/11/02 – Mr. Elder, I am 15 and live in New Mexico. I was looking online for a song called “Sanctuary.” I stumbled upon your song. I listened to the MIDI version that you had, following along on the sheet music…it was amazing. I printed it out, and started playing it that night. Now, after a few weeks I still play it, and play it. It is an amazing song. I am going to play it at my brother’s wedding if that’s cool, and I’m hoping that my friend will learn it on the guitar to sing and play it with me. Thank you for writing such an amazing song. I truly have a new definition of a sanctuary now. God bless, I.M. / ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
6/11/02 – Hello Erick, I greet you in the name of JESUS CHRIST my name is T.A. from a country called kenya in Africa. I actually visited your website and I was so encouraged and helped since am a strong Christian it really assisted me and for your sure I will be visiting the website always. May GOD bless you as you continue seeking HIS word. T.A. / MOBASA, KENYA
6/11/02 – Really enjoyed your site and layout! God Bless! B.F. / SALISBURY, MARYLAND
6/18/02 – Dear Eric: Do you offer the music score for your music? I would love to purchase a copy if this is Available. If it is not available, please consider making it. I’m only mediocre at playing but I love the style God has put into your playing. Thanks for your ministry. In His Service, B.M. / SIMPSONVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
6/19/02 – What I nice site! I was a little in the dumps this a.m. and just typed “someone to talk to” into a search engine, expecting nothing, and found your site. Just wanted to say, thanks. God is using your ministry in a good way. C.C.
6/26/02 – I am child of God and i visit your website and I was very interested. Thank for your idea and may God bless you and help you. C.Y. / DOULA, CAMEROON
7/1/02 – Hello Mr. Eric!!!! I’am a eighteen year old boy from Austria and so I said sorry for spelling mistakes that I made. Please take note :-)). Now my question!!! By random in search of notes for playing keyboard, I found your homepage. I searched that and found your own written songs. I was enthused about your songs and wish that I can learn to play that. “Moment by Moment” was that song which relish me best. Now I want know if it was possibly that you can send me the notes for this or also for other songs. That was a big wish from me!!!! Thanks a lot!!!!! J.F. / AUSTRIA
7/2/02 – Me and my wife and children were lifted up with joy in our hearts that cannot be uttered reading your positive letter response I printed it and show it to them. Thank you for your very nice and encouraging response and praise the lord for the prayers I know that the Prayers of a righteous man availeth, How we are very honored to correspond with you we also wish you to come and share to us the gospel personally for you to see our works here in the Philippines. R.A. / DAVAO CITY, PHILIPPINES
7/4/02 – Thank you very much for your encouragements. Now my life is getting better. I have come back to church as before. God is Good. At least I know one more new friend like you who encourage me in God’s way. You are a good friend. Thanks. In Him P.K / THAILAND
7/5/02 – Hi, I just finished listening to your talk on God’s Love, it spoke to me deeply. I want him to be in the number one slot, and I pray that I can make that change. If all I knew intellectually could just become true heart knowledge. Thanks for listening, well reading. J.B.
7/6/02 – This is a beautiful idea and website. God bless. A.C. / WINTERHAVEN, FLORIDA
7/6/02 – For the past two days I have not surfed the net for porn or anything destructive. I have however surfed the net for sermons and have had relative peace after listening to them. So my friend, I am trying to change. In the last eight months however, I have cut down on all destructive activities by about 80%! I felt so close to God the other evening that I shouted to myself, “I can do anything!” and I really praised God for his grace. It is tough however to survive at times. Surely you must understand that? My next step is to start to venture out into the real world again and maybe start to go to a church. I shall surf your site and listen to more sermons. Sincerely, T.R. / ENGLAND
7/11/02 – Greetings to you in the awesome name of Jesus. I want to really thank you for the words that God used you to place on your website. I was really going through a tough time and after I read it, I must tell you that the presence of God came in my office at work and it just blessed me so. I am a single mother who is sold out to God but had some shakes with my faith in this last trial. I know they come just to make us strong. But it is a blessing when you can read something on a website and God will step in and reverse your thinking. I pray that whatever your hands touch that God will grant you nothing but favor and increase your ministry. May god bless you and keep you in perfect peace. I thank God for you again. H.S. / DALLAS, TEXAS
7/11/02 – Thanks for your e-mail. I know that you will take me to the high point in spiritual situation. bye-bye, yours in Christ, D.K.
7/12/02 – I just wanted to take a moment and say “Thank You” Thank you for helping me to find the peace and strength I needed. I was looking for lyrics to a song, when somehow I wound up on your site. Somehow, what a funny phrase, I know exactly how I got here. I was led. The peace, and the answers I got from just listening to the music, and reading the literature…was just what I needed. I felt confusion, as to why I had no answers…did God put me on hold? I feel so much better now, I know I am not alone, I know the answers were there, I just was so caught up in the situation I didn’t see… Thank you for opening my eyes, clearing my mind so the word could get through, and putting peace back into my heart. God Bless all of you, and Thank you again, Sincerely, W.D.
7/15/02 – I find it challenging and refreshing to see someone openly admit their relationship to Christ on the internet. D.
7/15/02 – Hi Eric, thanks for the reply. It’s always such an encouragement to get emails from you. W.W. / COTATI, CALIFORNIA
7/15/02 – Dear Eric! Thank you so much for writing back to me…..And the most is your PRAYER. I’m sure God will bless and is pleased with your work for helping your brother like me. May God bless you, your family and your ministry…. Thanks! T.N.
7/15/02 – Can you please send me a brochure about your ranch? G.O. / LITTLETON, COLORADO
7/21/02 – Thanks for your noble service. I am a students’ counselor of this university. Your newsletter will be of a great help to us. Thanking you, M.A. / TAMILNADU, INDIA
7/27/02 – The “What God Says” CD’s are so pretty and I like hearing them. D.D. / LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
7/31/02 – Hello Eric, God bless you. I was listening to “Grasping the Love of God” and it really spoke to me. I will be leading worship at my church this Sunday morning and I found the message useful. I think they need to be reminded of God’s love…especially in this renewal meeting. Thanks, C.Y. / PENANG, MALAYSIA
8/1/02 – Just found site. Read/listened to one message. Love the way it presents the truth of scripture in a manner that makes it very accessible. T.D. / MINEVILLE, NEW YORK
8/7/02 – Dear Eric, I want to sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers and for your kind and thoughtful reply to my letter. Your words of comfort could not have come at a more appropriate time, because this has been an extremely difficult day for me. I have alternately prayed and cried much of the day. Thank you for your suggestion on the study bible. I was just recently trying to think if I had a bible or not. I don’t think I do. I don’t have much extra time at present but I will get the bible you suggest and read at least page a day. Thank you so very much for your concern and suggestions, Eric, I almost feel like you’re an old friend. When I first contacted you I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I even briefly, but not too seriously, considered suicide, but as of this minute I’m ok. and I have no doubt that you played a prominent role in my partial recovery. Hopefully, I will have a full recovery in a couple of months, or so. Thanks again and God be with you. F.
8/10/02 – Dear Eric Elder, Greetings to you in the name if our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Today I was searching on Internet for “God with Internet.” Fortunately, I saw your site. What a tremendous lovely thing you are doing for Jesus Christ. S. / SINGAPORE
8/10/02 – really nice….thanks. much needed in this time of hurry and worry… K.L. / GREAT FALLS, MONTANA
8/11/02 – I find your site very refreshing and have placed it in my favorites. Visiting this site leaves me with a feeling of renewal. Thanks. C.N. / EASTMAN, GEORGIA
8/15/02 – I am amazed how God can speak to us through so many different ways. He has spoken to me through the Bible. Many times I have heard him speaking to me through books, church services, friends. But now I discovered he can also use these modern means of communication to make us listen to him. This time He reached me he in Brazil, in the huge city of Sao Paulo through the Internet. I am a Language teacher and I like to prepare classes using my PC. I was feeling sad and confused about many things that are happening in my life. I thought maybe music would help me cheer up. But none of my CDs seemed to comfort me. I prayed and then I had the idea of checking on the web for a site with inspirational music that I could listen online. I praise the Lord that I discovered The Ranch. I listened to the music “Clear My Mind” and while I was listening, I felt the presence of God and his peace. Then I started checking all the links and I was tremendously blessed by each one of them. I loved the message by Lana about the “Prayer Closet.” I have tried many times to have a prayer place – it always failed. I am going to try my closet too! It is a great idea! It might work! God bless your ministry. Love in Christ, R.A. / SAN PAULO, BRAZIL
8/19/02 – I was looking up some things tonight on-line about Greenland (out of curiosity) when I stumbled across your web-page. I just love your web-page, it touched my heard deeply – Thank You!! K.S. / CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS
8/19/02- Hi, it’s been awhile since I have written. I was going through some very rough times… I laid out all of my problems to your staff, and to God. During these past 25 years I did not attend church, nor had an interest. I met a wonderful person in the chat room one day [and was led to the Lord that day]. It’s now been just over a year…and I am overjoyed, and crying as I type this. To bring you up to date. I now attend church on a regular basis since November. I attend Church on Sundays, along with Sunday school. I also attend Wednesday night. Just these past 10 week, I have been working with the Vacation Bible School, and enjoying every bit of it. The Pastor of our church now sets time aside for our family one time a week, and does private bible lessons with my daughter who is 12. It great worshiping the Lord. I still cry in church, but it’s a different type of cry now. Its a cry for the answered prayers, and the faith that the Lord has for us. My life, and my older daughter life has change. Changed for the good. All of the Music my daughters and I listen to now is Christian. It’s been so encouraging and uplifting. I would be overjoyed to chat with [the woman in the chat room] again, and Thank her, and her Husband for all that they did for me. M. / BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS
8/20/02 – LUV IT (the music ) D.T. / FARMERSVILLE, CALIFORNIA
8/20/02 – Dear Elder: Thank you for your immediate reply. Your letter is encouraging and I am determined to make an effort to improve my marriage. D. / CHINA
8/31/02 – This was such a blessing for me thank you and please pray for me that God will show me a way out until next time . God Bless. T.L.
9/2/02 – Hi, Eric. Thanks for your personal response and for your prayers. You touched me once again. Your website is really lovely. It’s such quality and such a gentle approach that radiates authenticity. J.I.
9/3/02 – When you spoke at my church a year or so ago I was interested in your web-site but did not have a computer. Well, I now have one and so I checked it out. It is wonderful, but somehow I knew it would be. Keep up the good work. Hope that you can return sometime in the future. God Bless you, your family and your ministry. L.P. / STREATOR, ILLINOIS
9/3/02 – Dear Elder Eric, I am so much blessed by what the Lord is enabling you to do over there thanks for the newsletter, also I am blessed by the kind of prayer you have offered to me. Yes I know more now that the LORD will accomplish the good work He began in me, God bless you so much. P.B. / UGANDA
9/5/02 – Hello Eric, Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my e-mail. There’s not a lot of people I have been able to talk to about this that has not been hurt. So I thank you for taking the time to care and most of all listen as I spill my heart out. I know and I see the light at the end of this tunnel, and thru the power of the Holy spirit working in me will reach the end. Keep up the great work and remember we are all ambassadors of the Lord, and you never know whose life you will touch thru your calling in life, whether thru this web site or thru your music. Until next time, may God richly bless you and your family with divine protection and we will be praying for you also for Lana and baby!!! Thanks again, T.B.
9/6/02 – Hello, I had visited your site after seeing a positive comment about it on someone’s personal web page. I was very impressed! A wondrous ministry! I look forward to coming to your site to get a fill up now and then and do appreciate all your work for the Lord through your Internet ministry. May you be greatly and wondrously blessed with all gifts from God to His children both as individually and as a ministry. More importantly may God encourage you with evidence of your fruits of labor. Love and Hugs in Jesus, T.C.
9/9/02 – I’ve just come across this site and already I feel really blessed. Fantastic. Can I use some of the teaching you present in our church? Regards, A blessed man after coming across the ranch, P.G. / HAMPSHIRE, ENGLAND
9/10/02 – Reading this webpage filled my heart. W.H. / ELIZABETH CITY, NORTH CAROLINA
9/15/02 – Fantastic web ministry. Will forward the address to my friends. M.C. / RABUN GAP, GEORGIA
9/20/02 – Dear Eric, I visited your site today and was pleased to be there. Sincere regards, E.O. / DELTA STATE, NIGERIA
9/23/02 – Thank you so much for your comforting words. I appreciate your prayers more than you know. L.G. / SELMER, TENNESSEE
10/13/02 – great site – greetings from Vienna! G. / VIENNA, AUSTRIA
10/18/02 – Hello and God bless! I was just checking out your web page. Praise the Lord. There needs to be more web pages as good as this one. Do you really live on a ranch? Just curious. Would love to hear back from you. M.T.
10/28/02 – Dear Brethren-in-Christ, Isn’t God great? This morning I was asking Him WHY I have not been able to find anywhere “on the net” (is that the right phrase?) of Christian websites where I could find that special God-kind of comfort which I so desperately need. God told me to go to Eric Elder Ministries and He assured me that, following the links, I’d find His answer to my question. Those of us who have been called by God to minister (at home, overseas, wherever) also need to be ministered to from time to time. Many of us become “fragile” – like me this morning. Please give my greetings to Brother Eric Elder. May our gracious & Almighty God bless you all. R.B. / DUBBO, AUSTRALIA.
10/29/02 – Great site. Thank you for honoring God and His Son. Halleluyah! P.M. / OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS
11/5/02 – Hello! This is a very beautiful place you have here on the ranch. How much is it? And what time of the year is this beautiful place available? Will this beautiful ranch be available in January? May the Lord keep you and bless everything that you do. M.P.
11/11/02 – cool site, great and inspired idea. K.G. / ANDOVER, MASSACHUSSETTS
11/19/02 – Hi Eric and Lana, I have recently visited your site, and enjoyed all I had time to read and pray. Thank you so much for your site. In His grip, C.H. / STREATOR, ILLINOIS
11/23/02 – I’ve finally able to wander around your web site and enjoy the music and video. What a blessing! I loved the music and listening to you and Lana. We’ve been facing some severe financial struggles recently and while our faith is deeper than ever, and we know we are tucked safely under the Lord’s wing, your site – the music – helped release a few of my hidden fears that seem tucked behind the nooks and crannies of my soul. I arrived feeling spent, but leave feeling refreshed. I already feel such gratitude for you and Lana from years ago. Thank you again. B.
11/25/02 – I pray that each of you are blessed. I love you all God Bless. L.C. / CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
11/27/02 – Praise God for what U R doing for HIM! This is how you ‘Give’ to God for us to be filled ‘pressed together, running over…’ God BLESS You & Yours, I pray. D.C. / CHENNAI, INDIA
11/27/02 – WOW!! I wish I had found this music a year ago. We recently pastored in Eastern Kentucky and never had a musician as part of our worship/praise. I have used many CD’s and even did some editing just to get a small piano or strings piece for special prayer or ministry time. That is what I need the CD for, to utilize in our home group now forming a new work in South Okla. City. We have a great keyboard, just can’t play it but we can play CD’s just fine. It is amazing how many people God will put in your path on a daily basis that are hurting and hungry, both physically and spiritually! May God richly bless your ministry and your calling. Till He Comes, R.S. / MOORE, OKLAHOMA
11/30/02 – It’s been a blessing for me to be able to listen/read the Christian messages at your site. I really need the “rest”. Please pray for me. E.K. / SINGAPORE
9/30/02 – Thanks for u creating this web. I am very thankful. I listen to your prayer and temptation scriptures. This given strength and please pray for me and send me nice messages in web then I can know more about Jesus and I will be very thankful. K.S. / MAHABUBNAGAR, INDIA
10/08/02 – I want to say that I love your ministry very much. K.E. / RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA
12/02/02 – I enjoyed the topic on spending time with God. C.E. / MAPLEWOOD, NEW JERSEY
12/4/02 – May God bless you and your ministry. You have helped me more than you know. God bless you and your family, S.
12/5/02 – I love the good works in your site, please keep it up. F.G. / UNITED KINGDOM
12/9/02 – What a refreshing and encouraging site. Thank you, B.G. / BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA
12/10/02 – It is a very nice site with lots of interesting info and verses, its really useful. Thanks a lot best regards. S.H. / CAIRO, EGYPT
12/18/02 – Good morning Pastor Eric; Wow. Your letter is confirmation to me; refreshment to my soul; direction and necessary healing. Your words come at a time of struggle over whether or not I will ever be completely “free.” And now I understand that where I am and where I am headed is “OK.” My brother Eric, I thank God for your obedience to Him…..to your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to be open to me. Thank You, Father. M.
12/21/02 – Hello, I would just like to thank you for your inspirational web site. Being brand new to the Internet I was just looking for Christmas music, any soothing music, while I attempted to figure this contraption out. While attempting to do so I stumbled on to your web site. I’ve had the most trying last three years with no end in sight. I was to the point that I didn’t even read my daily prayers and felt like I was starting to give up on faith. I’m not quite there yet, but I tell you since I found The Ranch I felt like God found a way to reach me instead. He certainly has a great sense of humor. He found me in front of this contraption and through the music I love most, piano. So now a new path begins. Thank you! Merry Christmas, V.W.
12/24/02 – I want to thank you, Eric, for your testimony and your Ministry. I have benefited from both. Regards, T.S. / DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, FLORIDA
12/25/02 – Sir, your site is wonderful and great to read, thank you. With regards, Y.S.
12/29/02 – Thank you brothers and sisters in Christ. And thank God for your ministry. A.S.
12/29/02 – Read your testimony long time back. Now listening your sermons. Yesterday at the church, I told about your wife’s “Prayer Closet” messages. GOD bless you ,your family, & your ministry. Amen. J.M. / BALUCHISTAN, PAKISTAN

News From The Ranch – September 2002

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Update on people who have been touched by The Ranch, a “real” ranch, and a new Piano Book for the music from “Clear My Mind.”

clear-my-mind-piano-music-thumbnail

For those who like to play the piano, you can now request a copy of the full piano score from the CD “Clear My Mind.”

Where Are They Now?

You may remember a woman I wrote about last year who gave her life to the Lord in the chat room at The Ranch while talking to another believer.

I thought you’d be interested to hear what’s happened to her in the past year.She wrote to me this week and said:

“Hi, it’s been awhile since I have written. I was going through some very rough times… I laid out all of my problems to [the woman in the chat room] and to God. During these past 25 years I did not attend church, nor had any interest. It’s now been just over a year and I am overjoyed and crying as I type this.

“To bring you up to date. I now attend church on a regular basis since November. I attend Church on Sundays, along with Sunday school. I also attend Wednesday night. Just these past 10 weeks, I have been working with the Vacation Bible School, and enjoying every bit of it. The Pastor of our church now sets time aside for our family one time a week, and does private bible lessons with my daughter who is 12. It’s great worshiping the Lord. …

“I still cry in church, but it’s a different type of cry now. It’s a cry for the answered prayers, and the faith that the Lord has for us. My life, and my older daughter’s life has changed. Changed for the good. All of the music my daughter and I listen to now is Christian. It’s been so encouraging and uplifting. I would be overjoyed to chat with [the woman in the chat room] again, and thank her, and her husband for all that they did for me.”

You may also remember a Muslim woman from Egypt who wrote to say she learned so much about God’s love and forgiveness after coming to the site. We’ve corresponded frequently since then, and she has been studying the Bible to compare it to the Koran.

Just this week, a good friend of mine met her in Egypt as he was speaking at a nearby church. She wasn’t sure if she should go to the church since they might not accept a Muslim woman. But after an email, prayer and a personal invitation from my friend, she went. She wrote this week and said:

“I concentrated on his words …He talked about John’s book: the lady sinner who met Jesus at the water well. He emphasized how he spent more time with her trying to teach her right things, talking to her decently notwithstanding her bad reputation or that she was an outcast by her society – that woman changed to goodness. The conclusion I’ve reached is that GOD is so forgiving. We shouldn’t give up any chance to approach him no matter how huge our sins are. He’s so caring and loving for us more than anybody on earth.”

Amen! He loves us so much that He’s willing to go to the ends of the earth to have a personal relationship with each one of us. And sometimes that relationship starts with a seed on the Internet!

These are just two examples of people who have been sparked to faith through our “virtual” ranch, but that faith is now having a very real impact on their everyday lives. Please continue to pray that our seeds would fall on good soil as Jesus said:

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop– a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 3:18).

We’re Expecting!

Closer to home, I’m glad to tell you that we’re expecting! Lana’s just past her first trimester and we expect the baby will be born near the end of February. Lana and the baby are doing great, except for some inflammation of the veins in her legs that the doctor is treating. We’d appreciate your prayers for both baby and Mama!

A “Real” Ranch

You may also remember that we have been praying for some time about developing a “real” ranch for people to visit and be encouraged in their faith. Several people have written to us saying they want to come to The Ranch, not realizing that it’s just a website at this point. We know the interest is there and we’re interested in building one!

I’ve written a proposal that outlines what it would take to make this a reality. If you’d like to take a look at the proposal to get a feel for what we’re wanting to do, read The Ranch Building Proposal.

We’d be interested in your feedback and prayers for this project.

Piano Book

Several people have asked if I have sheet music for some of the music they’ve heard on The Ranch. So I’ve recently finished a 62-page book featuring the full piano score from all twelve songs on the CD “Clear My Mind”.

For me, playing music can be just as refreshing as listening to music. If you play the piano, or know someone who does, you might want to get a copy of this book. A high schooler from Albuquerque, New Mexico got a copy a few weeks ago and wrote:

“Clear My Mind is probably my favorite song in the book so far. It just is such a great way to…clear your mind! I’ve memorized it, and I just like to sit there repeating it, with my eyes closed. It is such a great song, and it is so relaxing, and really clears your mind.”

The sheet music is written at an easy/intermediate level and contains the actual versions of the songs used on the CD. You can request a copy of the book from The Ranch Giftshop.

Helpful Websites

For men, you may be interested to know that you can watch some of the Promise Keeper events live over the Internet. I was brought to my knees in prayer one Saturday morning in front of my computer as I watched Bruce Wilkinson speak live from Promise Keepers in Florida. There are three more live broadcasts this year:

  • September 6-7, from St. Paul,
  • September 27-28, from Los Angeles,
  • and October 18-19, from Anaheim (for youth).

To watch the live events, visit: promisekeepers.org.

For women, you may be interested in a new online Bible Study by popular author Beth Moore. This 10-week study, “Believing God,” will be taught on the Internet starting September 26. Register at: believinggod.com.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for helping us plant seeds of faith on the Internet and letting us watch them grow;
  • for the new life growing inside Lana and for keeping her and the baby healthy;
  • and for the vision to reach even more people for You.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for You to pour Your Living Water on the seeds that we’ve planted so they will grow strong;
  • for continued good health for Lana and the baby throughout this pregnancy;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thank you for your prayers! They WILL make a difference!

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)

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.

News From The Ranch – May 2002

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Learn how to make your own website; finding peace in the Middle East

Who is God?

Someone asked me this question a few weeks ago and I’d like to answer it here. The question is simple enough, and the answer is actually simple enough. But getting someone to believe it and letting it make a difference in their life is harder. Yet simple truths, when we really believe them, often have the most profound influence on our lives.

Here’s the letter:

“Hi. I stumbled onto your web site. I guess what I’m trying to figure out first is who is God? Who is Jesus? I’ve gone to churches in the past but didn’t seem to find any answers there. Basically Jesus was portrayed as a wimpy white guy. God was either some kind of grandfather figure or a vindictive entity. Can you help answer these questions? I mean really answer them? I want to know the character of these two. I want to know who they really are.”

Who is God? He’s the One who created you.

If you’ve ever created something that you value – maybe a song, or a building project, or a special meal – you know how precious your creation is to you. You’ll do just about anything to protect your creation from harm. Knowing that God created you reveals a great deal about His character.

And the simple truth is that He did create you:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:1, 27

God Himself described His character to Moses when Moses asked to see God. Here’s what God said as recorded in Exodus 34:6-7a:

“And he [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…’”

God, the One who created you, is compassionate, gracious and slow to anger. He’s abounding in love, faithfulness and forgiveness. He cares so much about you that He doesn’t want to see you destroyed by anything that others might do to you or that you might do to yourself. So He cannot let the guilty go unpunished.

But unfortunately, all of us are guilty. We’ve all sinned by disobeying God at some point in our lives. So how does God punish the guilty (which is all of us) without destroying us in the process? That’s the answer to the second question.

Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus? He’s the One who died for you.

When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price for the sins that you and I have committed. When we put our faith in Jesus, God saves us from the eternal punishment that should have come on us.

One of the best descriptions of Jesus’ character is in Romans 5:8:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I guess the fact that Jesus died practically naked at the hands of armed soldiers might give Jesus the appearance of being a “wimpy white guy.” But Jesus wasn’t captured against His will. He submitted His will to God’s will, even though it cost Him His life.

This truth gives Him an entirely different appearance. It takes an incredible amount of strength to let someone drive nails into your hands and feet, thrust a sword in your side, and seal you up in an airless tomb for three days, especially to pay the price for someone else’s crime. But that’s the kind of love that God demonstrated to each of us through Jesus. That’s the kind of love God has for you, His ultimate creation.

God does love you. He did create you. And He did send Jesus to die for you.

Keep asking God, like Moses did, to reveal His character to you. Read the Bible from cover to cover, then read it again and again and again. You’ll find these truths about Him and about Jesus are on every page you read. Let these truths sink deep into your heart.

And when you’re ready to experience first-hand His love, compassion, grace, faithfulness and forgiveness, you can do it in a moment by putting your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. You can even do it right now, this moment, and let His peace fill your heart today and for the rest of eternity.

Peace in the Middle East

You can experience the peace of God even in the midst of turmoil all around you. Here’s a letter from another woman who visited The Ranch who lives in Jordan, which is bordered by Israel on one side and Iraq on the other.

“Hello Eric, I am an 18 year old female, I live in Amman – Jordan. I am Christian and I am proud I am. I was going through the web the other day looking for cool songs to download…when I found The Ranch site.

“I was deeply touched by this site and especially by your story! I cried, but my tears where tears of happiness for I felt happy for your happy ending! Being a teenager you know how sometimes life becomes kind of hard for us to live in. Sometimes I forget to pray to my Lord Jesus Christ, and many times I’ve committed a lot of sins, but deep down I knew that I was wrong so I used to go back and pray, but I used to repeat the sins.

“But today after going through the site and reading stories and yours especially, I felt different! I felt that this time due to my faith in Jesus, I am becoming someone different. I really felt that Jesus has touched my heart by your story. I wanna be a real Christian and thanks to this site, your great music and your story I am now. I can feel it and you can’t imagine how happy I am! I feel completely different. I want you to pray for me, to become a better person so I could spread the love of Jesus to everyone I know, just like you. Thank you very much for changing my life for the best:)”

Peace really is possible when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Please Pray With Us

And thank YOU for praying for us. I know people who come to The Ranch aren’t finding it by accident. They’re finding it because of your prayers.

On another note, we’ve added some new music to the website from Chuck Giacinto’s new worship CD, including long-play versions of Amazing Grace and Breathe. Just click Listen to Music at theranch.org.

Lastly, my friend Russell Pond has just published a devotional book called Season of Peace: 100 Inspirational Messages to Help You Find Peace From Anxiety, Fear and Panic Attacks. If you or someone you know needs encouragement in this area, you’ll find the book both practical and inspiring. You can read more about it and order a copy from his website at www.season.org.

Thank you Lord,

  • for creating us;
  • for loving us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins;
  • and for reaching out to show us your love wherever we live in the world.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • that we would accept your love by faith, trusting Jesus for our salvation;
  • for Your peace to flood the hearts of many in the Middle East and around the world;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Website Creation Class

How To Create A Website For Your Ministry

How To Create A Website For Your Ministry

For those of you who are interested in creating your own Internet Ministry…

I’ve helped several ministries create websites so they can “preach the gospel to all creation.” If you’d like to create a website for your ministry, I’ve put together a three-hour course on CD called “How to Create a Website for your Ministry.” For more information, visit this link.

If you’ve been touched in some way by our ministry, we’d love to know about it. You may have noticed that all of the stories, music, videos, messages and personal correspondence on our websites is offered completely free to all who come and completely free of advertising. This newsletter is our only method of letting people know of our needs; people like you who have told us that you’re interested in what we’re doing.

To be very specific, our budget for this ministry is $5,000 per month, which covers all of our ministry expenses, Internet expenses, plus our personal salary and living expenses. Our average monthly donations this year, however, have been right around $2,400 per month. While we can continue to stretch dollars that come in, we have many projects we’d like to undertake but simply can’t at this level of funding. If 100 people would commit to donate $25 a month, (or 50 people giving $50 a month, or 25 people giving $100 a month), we would be able to do much more of what God has put on our hearts to do.

As Paul tells us in Romans 10:13-15:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

We’re glad to keep going and telling people the good news, but we need people like you to send us. We’d love for you to join us? You can make a donation by credit card online or by mail by clicking this link.

Eric Elder Ministries 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.)

News From The Ranch – March 2002

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Email from Egypt, create your own website, and a good Internet accountability program

Lana's Prayer Closet

Let it Rain

I wonder if I’ll ever get used to the fact that we can now get a message half-way around the world in the blink of an eye…and that people will pay attention to it!

I heard last week from a Muslim woman in Egypt. She wrote to say she enjoyed the website and “I hope all the world can visit ‘The Ranch’ and benefit.”

I wrote back to suggest she watch a video message about prayer that Lana put on the Internet the week before. She replied:

Thank you for sending me Lana’s message. She’s so simple and delicate in her talking and looks. She’s also light-hearted which makes her speech more interesting than those official lectures which one hears but never gets influenced by. I’d like to be reminded of any new live messages.

Thanks again for your precious site which I found by chance 5 days ago. I have been crying deeply out of pain caused by lots of sufferings and tortures in my past life (far and near) when I searched the web for a relieving site. I visited it and remained there for a long visit that took me all night long. Then I went to bed and slept a while. When I woke up, I was in a good state. I missed that inner peace for years. Now I’m getting it back and thanks to you and Lana.

I wrote again to ask if there was anything we could pray for her, and she poured out her heart in a 5,000 word email (about 5 times the length of this newsletter; I’m sure it’s the record for an email we’ve received!) For confidentiality (and brevity!), I can only share the above snippets with you. But I can say it’s a total blessing to see how God works to minister to people half-way around the world.

When I was a kid, I remember one dry summer day when the grass was starting to wither and turn brown. As I turned on the garden hose and began to water the grass, I could see it practically spring back to life as the water fell on it.

God is doing the same thing now, pouring out His life-giving teaching like abundant rain on all who will listen. The Bible says:

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants” (Deuteronomy 32:2, NIV).

Yes, Lord, let it rain! Please pray with us that she would find the inner peace that she is desperately seeking, the peace with God that has been made possible to all of us through Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1-2).

Starting a Flood

One of my desires is to help flood the Internet with the teachings of God found in the Bible. Thanks to the Internet, our teaching is no longer confined to one room in one building, taught once and never to be shared again.

New visitors are coming to The Ranch every day, watching messages and reading stories, whether they were first shared several years ago or as recently as last week.

But even though we have several thousand visitors a month to the website, it’s just a drop in the bucket of the number of people searching for answers to life’s questions.

I want to invite you to become part of the flood! I’ve recently created a class to train others how to create a website for their ministry (using Microsoft FrontPage®) so we can multiply the effort of sharing God’s Word on the Internet.

A few weeks ago, I taught this three-hour class to a group of people at a Sunday School convention here in Illinois. I’m eager to see the new websites that will be developed as a result.

But I also want to duplicate this teaching to as many people as possible so we can continue to flood the Internet with Christian material. So I’ve put the full text of the class on a CD-ROM so you can go through it at your own pace.

In the class, I provide detailed instructions on how to create web pages, link them together, add text and images, and even add audio and video.

I know it can be intimidating to think about creating your own website, but I’ve spent much of my life trying to make technology easy for people to understand and use, so I hope you’ll carefully (and prayerfully) consider giving it a try.

One of the students at my class sent me this note:

I want to thank you for the class. I have been to a lot of tech classes and you are by far the best communicator of technical information I have seen. I mean that. I worked full time in the field at one time.

I’ve included his comments not just because of his kind words about the class, but to let you know that this is a class that is in language that everyone can understand and apply, not just “computer geeks.” But at the same time, you’ll learn some simple ways to do some very advanced things on the Internet.

As Christians, we’ve been given the most powerful message ever delivered, and the Internet is the most powerful delivery mechanism ever invented. Let’s flood it with the Word of God and bring life to the dying, both here on earth and on into eternity.

Eye Promise

As sold as I am on using the Internet for great good, I’m fully (and sadly) aware that Satan is using it for great evil, especially in the area of Internet pornography.

I’ve looked into many filtering programs and taught classes on Internet safety. But I recently found a program that gets to the heart of the matter. I’d like to recommend it to anyone who struggles with, or knows someone who struggles with, Internet pornography.

It’s called “Covenant Eyes.” It isn’t a filter, but is a software program that tracks every website you visit on the Internet – then sends a report of those sites to an accountability partner you designate. Many of the people I know who struggle with Internet pornography say they would have never started if they knew other people could see what they were doing.

I like that this approach doesn’t draw a legalistic “line in the sand” on what sites you can and can’t visit, but it let’s you be guided by your heart. So instead of pushing the boundaries of some filtering software to see what you can “get away with,” this brings you back to simply “doing what’s right.” You can sign up at www.covenanteyes.com.

Please Pray With Us

A dear friend of ours, Judy Wray, has offered to help coordinate the prayer effort for our ministry. She’d like to send out a brief note via email each week or two about our more intimate and urgent prayer needs. She’ll also add a few thoughts to encourage you in your own prayer life.

Her prayers for us have been extremely influential over the years. I know you’d be blessed to hear from her and you’d be a special blessing to us as you pray. If you’d like to receive these email updates, please let us know. Just send a note on our contact form with the word PRAYER in the subject line.

Thank you Lord,

  • for pouring out Your Word like rain around the world;
  • for helping us to help You;
  • and for Muslims, Christians, and others coming to The Ranch to learn more about Christ;

And Lord, we now ask:

    for You to multiply this work through our training efforts;

  • for more people to get involved through prayer and giving;
  • and for many to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Create Your Own Website

If you’d like to order the three-hour course on CD called “How to Create a Website for Your Ministry,” you can order online by credit card or by check through the mail. (Click here to see exactly what you’ll learn and what you’ll need for the course.)

The CD is available for a suggested donation of $75. All proceeds from the CD are put directly back into our ministry to help spread the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

You can order the CD online and make a donation by Credit Card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express, or Paypal) by clicking here (can be viewed for free now from here).

Or you can make a donation by check and mail it along with a note requesting the CD “How to Create a Website for Your Ministry.”

The IRS allows you to deduct the amount of your donation which exceeds the fair market value of any materials we send you (the fair market value of this CD is $75). We will send you a receipt along with your CD.

Eric Elder Ministries 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.)

News From The Ranch – January 2002

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

50,000 visitors to The Ranch, Email from guests, and current prayers.

Eric Elder Family 2002

My Friend Was Right

I was looking at the statistics this morning of the number of visitors we’ve had to The Ranch this year.

I couldn’t help but remember a conversation I had with a friend seven years ago as I was leaving my office building for the last time. I had just told him that I was resigning that day because God had called me into the ministry. Even though I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, I knew I had to go.

Tears began to stream down his face as he said, “If God told you to do it, you’ve got to do it!”

He related to me how he had just given his life to Christ a few months earlier. He urged me to get on the Internet and start telling people about Christ. “There are people out there like me who are on the Internet all hours of the day and night. They’re looking for answers and you know where to find them.”

My friend was right.

This year, we’ve had over 50,000 visitors to The Ranch website. Almost all are looking for answers, needing encouragement, and wanting to know that God is real and cares about them personally.

A woman visited yesterday and wrote to say she had spent some time in prayer after reading a message on the site about children:

“I started to cry as soon as I typed this prayer. I sensed that God was telling me that he heard me and that he was taking care of it. I received this site from a friend who knows the troubles I am having right now so I know I was supposed to read the message on children. I feel like God is letting me know he can handle everything that I can’t.”

Another man wrote a few weeks ago to ask for help resolving a situation with his father. He wrote again:

“Thank you so much for your response. I have ordered [the books you recommended] and look forward to reading the text. I am a bit nervous about rediscovering the pain of the past, but I know God is able to see me through. Thank you as well for the scriptures and I intend to spend some quality time with the Lord in reference to this matter. I now have the beginnings of a plan and that’s what I was looking for – some small steps that I might take towards resolving this conflict. Your efforts are much appreciated.”

I wouldn’t have made it through this year without the aid of about 20 volunteers who stepped up to help me answer the emails. Lana’s been a great blessing, matching the emails that come in with the volunteers that can give personalized help.

A volunteer from Colorado wrote a careful and prayerful response to a man who wanted very much to reconnect with God. Back came this letter:

“Thank you for your detailed reply and for your prayers! Your letter brings back beautiful memories of those times when I was an active and practicing Christian. Also, your words “hit home” and brought tears to my eyes. I carefully perused through your letter, hanging on every word and spiritual thought. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time from your busy schedule to care for me and share with me! With your prayers and God’s help, I plan to attend services this weekend for the first time in about four years.”

Another volunteer from Tennessee prayed with a woman from England. She was struggling against depression and suicide, but mainly wanted help in making a decision for Christ. A few weeks later, she wrote back:

“Thank you very much for your reply. I have some good news. On October 24th I prayed a prayer asking Jesus into my life. I picked up my bible immediately afterwards and read Romans 4:7-8, it just jumped out at me. I will never forget that.” She closed with these words: “God bless! (I can say that now and mean it!)”

Many come because they don’t know where else to turn for help, like these three different writers:

“I am strong in Christ and I know he will give me the strength to endure but as a human, it is hard. Usually I don’t admit my weaknesses but since I don’t have to face you I will. Usually I don’t cry or express sadness but lately I feel nothing much but sadness and the need to cry, but I don’t let others around me know.”

“thank-u for all that you have done for me…it is good to get all this out when there is someone to listen to me…thanks”

“Those who know me best and know the Lord know nothing about this area of my life and, therefore, cannot pray specifically for me in this area…Neither my family or any of my friends know of this secret.”

And plenty come just to feel closer to God, like this woman from North Carolina:

“I know the Lord led me to this site today. I needed encouragement desperately and that’s what I got from this site. It’s really unique and I love the music. I thank the Lord for leading me to this place where I could find a calmness.”

Lana and I have been blessed to get to watch the body of Christ in action around the world, encouraging each other in the Lord.

God’s Ways

When I first started this ministry on the Internet, I felt a bit awkward telling people what I did. But this summer, I was encouraged by the words of David Yonggi Cho, the pastor of the largest church in the world (750,000 members!). He was asked how they could meet the needs of so many people. He said:

“We couldn’t handle the situation without computers. We computerized everything in the church – every facet! We also make use of the Internet. Right now we are offering an Internet church where people participate in services through the Internet. I want to take people to the Internet.

“Korea is very small – not like in America with a lot of space, so we can’t enlarge our church buildings. Besides, every year we have 20,000 new converts in our churches, and we can’t put them all in our church building or even our branch churches. So now we have an Internet church and many of the young generation participate in the services at home. They send in their offerings on the Internet. They can do on-line giving…And they also give us feedback about sermons and services. It is silly to build larger and larger church buildings. It is silly to spend more money on (branch church) buildings! You’ll never have enough. I really believe this, and I have already announced to my people and ministers that the next step is to go into total cyberspace ministry because it is a real waste of money to build larger buildings.”

The interviewer, Rick Warren, (who is also pastor of one of the largest churches in America) replied,

“Just think of that money and how you could be using it for missions!”

(You can read the full interview here.)

I guess I shouldn’t feel awkward about what I do. God’s ways are much higher than ours. By the end of today, another 150 people will have visited The Ranch. My friend really was right. Thanks for helping make this a reality.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for opening doors that no one can shut (Revelation 3:8);
  • for volunteers, prayer partners and supporters who make this work possible;
  • and for bringing people to The Ranch daily.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for continued wisdom to answer people’s questions;
  • for all the resources to help them;
  • and for still more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Joining Hearts

Does your heart resonate with the work we’re doing? If so, we’d love for you to join us in prayer or financially. We received an average of $2,800 a month this year from people like you to do this work full-time. We’d love to double that in 2002 and are praying that God would “strongly support” us in this effort through his people. If your heart is with us, we’d love to know.

To make a donation online right now, just click here.

Your gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – October 2001

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

What God Says about Fear, Helping others believe, and special gifts.

What God Says About Fear

What does God say about fear? Let Him encourage you that you can always trust Him – listen to “What God Says about Fear”.

Can You Help Me Believe?

We’ve received several emails here at The Ranch since September 11th expressing this common theme: “Can you help me believe?”

I was especially moved by the honesty expressed in this letter:

“I hate to be so blunt, but how can there be a God? I am 33 and have spent at least 25 years trying to believe there is one. But there isn’t. I wish there were. I was pretty convinced there wasn’t a God after the World Trade Center was attacked. There was a little girl born 2 days after her father was killed there. She will never hear her father say I love you, will never play horsy on his knee. She will never dance for him or make funny faces for him. She will grow up, get married, and have children who will never know their grandfather…There can’t be a loving God.

“A friend said that good comes from evil, and to look at all the people swarming into churches now. If that was why God let such things happen, then I say that was pretty mean.

“You might not believe me, but I do want to believe in God. My daughter goes to a Christian preschool. I read her Christian bedtime stories and always read a bedtime prayer. I want her to believe. Can you help me believe?”

Those last two lines just pierce my heart: “I want her to believe. Can you help me believe?”

I’ve spent much of my life and my ministry helping people to do that very thing. Yet each time I hear the question asked with such honesty, it makes me call out to God again for His answer. It always feels like there’s a huge, invisible wall separating belief and unbelief, faith and doubt. How can we, as Christians, get people over, or past, or through this wall?

The answer I hear most often from God is this: share your faith. Whenever we have something that other people need, God wants us to share it with them. If you’ve got faith, share it.

Often, what people need to see is someone who has found what they’re looking for. When you share your faith with them, it lowers the wall between belief and unbelief. While the wall may still seem high, it at least makes the wall surmountable.

Your testimony will give them what they may need most: hope. Hope that their search is not in vain. Hope that the promises of scripture are true (“You will seek me and find me if you seek me with all your heart” – Jeremiah 29:13, NIV). Hope that God is still alive and cares about them, too.

One of the reasons the song Amazing Grace is so popular is that it gives people hope. The words offer hope for anyone who is seeking God’s transforming work in their life: “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

You don’t have to be a theologian to help people believe. You don’t have to be a scientist. You don’t have to have all the answers, or even one-tenth of the answers. You just have to share how Christ has changed your life – how you came to believe in Him.

If you’ve got faith in Christ, now’s the time to share it! If you don’t have it, now’s the time to look for it! When you seek God with all your heart, you will find Him, even though “he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:11b, NIV).

What God Says about Fear

Although it was a surprise to us, I suppose it wasn’t a surprise to God that we finished our latest pocket CD on “What God Says about Fear” the week before the September 11th attacks. I wish we were smart enough to say this was because of our foresight, but we’re not. It does indicate to me, though, that God cares deeply about people’s fears.

My good friend, Russell Pond, runs an Internet ministry that deals exclusively with fear, anxiety and panic attacks (www.season.org). The week after the attacks, he wrote:

“When those terrorists attacked last week, their ultimate goal was not to destroy a building – their goal was to destroy our peace. Their target was the hearts of Americans. That’s why they are called terrorists – they invoke terror; they impart fear. If you are less likely to fly in a plane, go up into a high building or travel to New York because of the terrorist attack, then their attack on our peace was successful.”

“If you are feeling anxious and fearful, let me encourage you to run to God. Seek his peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Seek his hand of protection and guidance through this difficult time. If you are less likely to do things because of these terrible events in New York, pray for courage. Don’t let terrorists run your lives. Don’t let fear take control. Trust God to take care of you and let his peace rule in your life and your mind.

“Jesus said, ‘I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid’ (John 14:27).”

If you need God’s peace right now, I hope you’ll listen to this five-minute CD on our website at WhatGodSays.com or request a copy on the enclosed order form. You might also want to visit Russell’s website at www.season.org.

And if you need someone to talk to or pray with, write us here at The Ranch. We’ll have someone write back to you personally – someone who may have found exactly what you’re looking for.

Ranch Update

We’re still praying about the possibility of developing a “real” ranch where we could invite people to come and could grow in their relationships with God. I’ve submitted a proposal to a man who owns some property near here who has a similar vision. Please pray with us that God would reveal His will to us all.

TBN Interview

I’d also appreciate your prayers for an upcoming television interview on our local TBN station (Trinity Broadcasting Network, WTTO – 35). I’ll be sharing my faith and praying for people who call into the program.

The broadcast will air live in the Chicago/Peoria/Bloomington area on Friday November 2nd from 10:30 am to 12 noon. We’re praying that God would draw those who need to watch and that He would touch their hearts in a deep and lasting way.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for letting us find You when we seek You;
  • for Your Word that gives us peace in the midst of our fears;
  • and for drawing people to The Ranch in answer to our prayers.

And Lord, we now ask:

    for Your help as each of us shares our faith with others;

  • for Your will to be revealed regarding a “real” ranch;
  • and that more people will find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Two Gifts at Once

I’ve heard from many of you that you really appreciate that everything on our website is free. We offer all the stories, video broadcasts, music, and personal prayer freely to over 5,000 visitors a month from over 120 countries.

I’ve also heard from many of you that you would like copies of some of the things you’ve heard here. So we’ve made several items available in CD format so you can share them with your friends or enjoy them when you’re not online.

When you order gifts from The Ranch, you’re actually giving two gifts at the same time: one to your friend (or yourself!) and one to our ministry.

Christmas

100% pure piano performed by Marilyn Byrnes. Features contemporary versions of 11 Holiday classics including Silent Night, The First Noel, The Holly and the Ivy, O Holy Night, and Joy to the World.

Listen Here

Still Waters

100% pure piano performed by Jennifer Ramsey. Features fresh versions of 15 songs of faith including Lord, We Lift Your Name on High, Holy, Holy, Holy, and It Is Well With My Soul.

Listen Here

Clear My Mind

100% pure piano performed by Eric Elder. Features 12 original songs to heal your heart, soothe your soul, and clear your mind. Also includes the 14-Day devotional “Two Weeks With God.”

Listen Here

What God Says

100% pure scripture read to inspiring music. Each of these beautiful pocket CD’s are small enough to fit in a wallet, purse or greeting card, but play on most regular CD players. (They’re designed for CD players in which the disk is set directly on a tray or center spindle, but not for “slot-loading” types in which the CD is inserted like a coin in a slot.) Lana reads approximately 5 minutes of scripture on each CD, set to beautiful music by Chuck Giacinto, Kent Sanders, Brent Mitchell, and myself.

Listen Here

Thanks for helping us share Christ with others!

If you’d like to make a donation without ordering, just click here.

You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – August 2001

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Baptism in Latvia, the healing power of confession, and prayer for a “real ranch.”

andrisshad

Baptism in Latvia

I received an email a few weeks ago that began with these words:

Dear Eric,

My name is Andris. It was some four months ago (on April 7) that I confessed my sins and gave my life to Jesus. And the decision was in great part thanks to the encouragement I found at The Ranch! In fact, my conversion took place right there at the ‘Lover’s Leap’ [the prayer page on The Ranch website] . . . !

This is a direct result of your prayers that people would find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to God. Andris is from Riga, Latvia (south of Finland, north of Poland) and he had watched a message at The Ranch that featured one of my special guests, Bill Allison.

The message Bill gave that Andris watched was “How to Know For Sure That You’re Going to Heaven,” which you can still watch here. (Bill is a gifted communicator and has his own ministry which you can read about at www.cadreministries.com.)

I asked Andris if I could share a portion of the letters he wrote to Bill that night and again several weeks later when he was baptized. He wrote:

[April 7] “Thank you for the great message you shared with me! Having grown up in a Christian family, but never really having chosen to follow Jesus, I was deeply touched by God’s word tonight!! I prayed to him as good as I could and confessed all the sins I could think about. I wept for about an hour on my knees before God. I asked Jesus to be my Lord, to come and change my life and free me from all my sins.”

A few weeks later he added:

[June 10] … “What’s more, Bill, I was baptized last Sunday!!! That’s truly incredible, after all these long years of darkness. By the way, that man who baptized me was my brother (Peteris)! (Yes, I forgot to mention last time my brother was a pastor.) This was an unforgettable day for him as well!

Hallelujah! Those words are music to my ears to know that the work we’ve put into The Ranch has not been in vain. It’s amazing to think that even while we sleep, God uses a website to proclaim His message to people around the world.

Please continue to pray for Andris that the seeds planted will continue to take solid root and grow strong.

The Healing Power of Confession

Many of you prayed for my talks this month at the Exodus International Annual Conference. The conference gathered together 900 people who minister to others who struggle with homosexuality, as well as many who are themselves working through this struggle.

Thanks for your prayers as God is already using the talks to bring greater freedom to people working through this issue. In one of the talks I encouraged people to share their struggle with someone they trust, rather than just trying to deal with it on their own. The Bible says:

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a, NIV)

The following Monday I heard from a man who nervously took that advice and set up an appointment to meet with his pastor later that night. Before the meeting, he wrote:

“This afternoon I have decided to meet with my pastor and share my past and present struggles with him. He will be the first and only person I have shared this with locally. I realize that I have come to the point where I just cannot continue to handle this struggle alone without anyone locally to support me.

“… I’m scared, anxious, fearful, worried, and most of all I feel very alone in all this. As I write these words, my stomach churns with the dreaded anticipation of taking off my mask and making myself vulnerable to someone face to face, locally. I feel that I have so much to lose. But on the other hand I have so much to gain. All that I know is something must change. I cannot continue to exist the way I have existed the past 4-6 weeks. Death itself could not be any worse.”

He wrote again the next day, after the meeting:

“Well, I did it! I met with my pastor last night and basically told him everything … start to finish! He was very warm and gracious. Showed no reservations at all, was totally comfortable with what I shared. He told me that he desired to be whatever I needed, a pastor, counselor, friend, etc. I told him what I needed most was a friend with whom I could talk to, meet with, pray with, and be accountable to. He was more than eager to do that with me.

“Well, you were right! God was faithful and I felt so good after sharing all this. … What was I waiting for! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your encouragement and how God used you to move me to the point where I was willing to take this next step. It feels good to be known and still be loved!”

What a great feeling, indeed! Thanks for your prayers that are already bearing fruit.

What God Says

Lana and I, along with the help of several friends, have created four more pocket CD’s in the “What God Says” series. I love listening to Lana read the scriptures on various topics, set to inspiring music by friends like Chuck Giacinto, Kent Sanders, Brent Mitchell, and even my own. The topics finished so far include what God says about Prayer, Healing, Temptation, Missions, and Ministry.

It’s an affordable (and “cool”) way to impress God’s word on your heart. I hope you’ll order some for yourselves and your friends. It makes a great gift to tuck into a card, too! You can read more about them and listen to samples at www.WhatGodSays.com and use the enclosed card to request copies.

A “Real” Ranch

Lana and I have been praying for several years for a “real” ranch where we could invite people to come and grow closer to God.

I recently met with a man who has a similar vision and some property nearby. Please pray with us as we discuss the possibilities that could make this vision a reality. We simply want to know God’s will and ask that His will would be done.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for touching the life of Andris Sprogis and giving him eternal life;
  • for touching people through the Exodus conference to free them from their sexual struggles;
  • and for putting desires on our heart and then helping us to accomplish them.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • that You would protect and nurture the seeds that have been planted in people’s lives so they will bear fruit that will last;
  • that You would “enlarge our territory,” both over the Internet and physically;
  • and that more people will find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

New! Pocket CD’s!

These beautiful CD’s play in most CD players but are small enough to fit in your wallet, pocket or purse. Each CD contains about 5 minutes of encouraging words from God’s Word read to inspiring music. The suggested donation of $8 each (all 5 for $40) includes shipping and handling. Visit www.WhatGodSays.com where you can listen to samples, read the scriptures, and place an order.

If you’d like to make a donation without ordering, just visit the donation page.

You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – May 2001

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

God wants to use your gifts, the power of prayer, and the new series of wallet-sized CD’s called “What God Says.”

What God Says About Missions

How Does God Do It?

I was talking to a pastor friend about how God can possibly meet all the needs of all the people in the world. I said, “I don’t know how God does it.”

I wasn’t expecting a reply, but my friend turned to me and said, “I know how He does it. He does it through people like you.”

I had to think about that for a minute, but I realized he was right. Not that God does it just through me, but that He does it through ordinary people like me and like you. God has given each of us gifts that He wants us to use to reach out to others, to be His hands, to speak His words, and to demonstrate His love.

You may not think much of your gifts, but God does, and the people God has put around you certainly will as you reach out to them in His name. They desperately need a touch from God, administered by YOU.

The Bible says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).

In my last newsletter, I asked you to pray that God would send people to help me answer the emails that come into this ministry. Thanks for praying! People have volunteered from Peoria (Illinois) to Pretoria (South Africa) and have begun to provide terrific and specific care to those who come with various requests. They range from a 14-year old who writes beautiful letters to an 87-year young retired chaplain.

I want to share with you some of the things God has done through them recently at The Ranch, not only to show you how God is answering your prayers for this ministry, but to encourage you to use your own gifts to reach out to those around you, too.

A Brazilian woman wrote for prayer. She said she had been saved, but had since lost sight of Jesus and wanted to be restored to God. I felt it would be better if someone who spoke her native language responded to her. What is it they speak in Brazil? Portuguese? So I passed her note on to a friend who speaks Portuguese. They corresponded in Portuguese and I later received this note from the Brazilian (in English),

“Since I wrote the e-mail to [the two of you], God has given me so many words of reconciliation. As I began to study these words I began to grow in my knowledge of God’s forgiveness. I am very grateful to [the two of you], who cared enough to take the time to share the gospel with me. And above all I am grateful to God.”

I received another note from a 16-year old girl asking if there was someone she could talk to. I put her in touch with our 14-year old volunteer. The 16-year old asked her,

“I was just wondering if maybe we could be friends, just someone I can talk to since I can’t really talk to my parents [they are going through a divorce]. Usually when I need a friend to talk to there is nobody in sight to listen to me and maybe you could help me with that.” Our volunteer said she would be glad to talk and pray with her and she got this reply back: “Thank you soooo much for replying to my email this means sooo much to me, and also I would like to thank you for praying for me.”

They’ve written, chatted and prayed many times since, bringing hope into an otherwise hopeless situation.

Another note came from a woman whose husband, a pastor, came into the chat room at The Ranch looking for some encouragement for himself. Little did he know how God would encourage him!

Although no one from The Ranch was in the chat room at the time, another woman was there who found the site and liked the music. The wife’s email continued:

“She was not a Christian but was searching for “something.” My husband had to go to bed and I ended up talking with her and we chatted for about three hours. We had so much in common it was amazing. On Saturday night I was typing my husband’s sermon and God called me back to the chat room. She arrived at the same time I did. My husband and I chatted with her for about an hour and before we logged off she had prayed the sinner’s prayer. It was an overwhelming experience. I have chatted with her since and am helping her get into a church that can minister to her and her children. We thought you would be interested knowing how God used your site to save a lost soul.”

Praise God that He works through each one of us as we use our different gifts for Him! I can do some things, but I certainly can’t speak Portuguese, I’m not a teenager, and I can’t chat 24 hours a day! But the Bible says that we are the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27) and He has given each of us different gifts to build up those around us. Christ is the head and we are His hands, His feet, His ears, His mouth.

I want to encourage you to reach out to those around you, at work, at home, at school, at church. God has put you in the midst of people who need a touch from Him, a word from Him, or a demonstration of His love.

If you wonder where to start, just pray a simple prayer like this right now:

“Lord, use me as a blessing in someone’s life today.”

The Power of Prayer

Speaking of prayer, a friend recently asked me: “What do you do to promote your websites? Do you pay for that? By looking at your statistics, you must be doing something else more than I am!”

My answer? No, I don’t pay to promote them, but I do pray to promote them. And I know many of you reading this newsletter pray regularly that God would draw people to The Ranch and the KidsRanch so God can draw people closer to Him.

The KidsRanch, for instance, gets 5,000 to 6,000 visitors a month, even though it’s only been up for less than six months; that’s 5 times as many visitors as another website I developed over 2 years ago for which I’ve never asked anyone to pray.

The prayers have opened up opportunities for these websites to be seen all over the world. Just a few months ago two men from Switzerland, Daniel Hari and Beat Baumann, came to the U.S. to visit some ministries doing outreaches over the Internet. They are creating some websites in Switzerland to reach out as well (www.livenet.ch and www.esoterik.li). After visiting the headquarters of places like Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Crosswalk, and Campus Crusade in Canada, they came to visit me!

When they returned home, they wrote up some articles about their visit. Within a few days a publication called “Friday’s Fax” (or Freitags-Fax as it is known in German) picked up the story about our ministry and sent it out by fax and email to 7 million people! (www.jesus.org.uk/dawn/2001/dawn12.html#USA3)

I got a copy from a friend in Texas who had received it from someone in New Zealand where it had been translated from the original German into English. What a world we live in today. And what a God we have who answers prayer in ways that go “beyond all we could ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

People from Germany and Switzerland have since written in to ask if I can correspond with them in German. I could try, but guess what? Someone volunteered just a few days ago to help answer emails – in German!

Can I share with you one more astounding answer to your prayers? I asked you in the last newsletter to pray for me as I began to write a book. I’ve since started and still need your prayers. But soon after I asked you to pray, I got an email from a woman who had seen my testimony on the Prayer of Jabez website prayerofjabez.com.

She was just finishing up a book on prayer and wondered if she could publish my story in it, and asked if I had any other stories about answered prayer. I wrote out a few more and sent them to her.

She then told me her publisher had printed 15,000 copies of her previous book about angels (called Angels Everywhere by Lynn Valentine) and Hallmark printed another 35,000 copies of the book for their stores. They plan to print similar runs of this book called The Power of Prayer, possibly as soon as Christmas of this year.

I’m glad to know that even though I have no experience at getting a book published, God does! Please pray that my stories will make it into the book and that they will encourage many to reach out to God in prayer.

Please pray also as I continue to write my own book, that God will give me words to write and an avenue to deliver them to as many people as possible.

What God Says

I hope you’ll indulge me to let me write an extra page or two of this newsletter. In the past few weeks, God has put on my heart a new project to put His Word into the hands of thousands of people at their point of need.

God has given us Words of Life in the Bible, but for many people they are simply idle words because they are kept closed up in a book on a shelf.

A new CD format has sprung up recently in a shape that can fit in your wallet, or in your pocket, or in a greeting card, but can still play in a normal CD player. They hold about 5 minutes worth of music or about 50MB worth of data.

We’ve begun to create a series of these CD’s called “What God Says” to address various topics, such as “What God Says About Prayer,” “What God Says About Love,” “What God Says About Healing,” “What God Says About Missions.” The list of possible topics goes on and on to cover what God says about depression, fear, joy, sex, grief, life, relationships, mothers fathers, children, angels, and so on.

With the help of some talented friends, we are putting these scriptures on CD’s, set to beautiful background music. Lana reads the scriptures with a voice that people describe as “angelic,” “perfect,” “soothing,” and “it moved me to tears,” among other great words (and they’re all true!).

We’ve begun to secure the trademarks, copyrights, and even UPC barcodes to begin to offer them not only over the Internet, but also in stores where people are looking for gifts for others or inspiration for themselves.

I believe that the distinctive packaging, the low-cost, and the compelling message of these CD’s will make this an attractive way to expose people to God’s Word in a way they’ve never experienced before.

The project is constantly on my mind, going back and forth in my brain as I try to work out the details and consider the possible impact. I need your prayers desperately as the urgency and difficulty of making this happen overwhelm me almost daily. It makes me cry even now just thinking about the impact this will have on people’s lives.

I’d like to send you one of our first completed CD’s called “What God Says About Missions.” Just send us the response card in the enclosed envelope and if you could include a donation, that would be great, too.

A missionary friend helped us choose the scriptures, Lana reads them beautifully in various English translations, Chuck Giacinto composed the moving music, and Jim Brown provided the photography for the cover. Even though the CD’s only 4 minutes long, I can listen to it over and over and not get tired of it. I know it will be a great encouragement to others who have a heart for missions, or others whom God wants to have a heart for missions if they were so inspired. This will also give you a feel for the potential of the entire series.

As I’ve said many times, I have to say again: I need your prayers. The planning, budgeting, legalities, copyrights, trademarks, royalties, and so much more are sometimes way beyond what my grapefruit-sized brain can comprehend (it feels like a plum most days!). The learning curves are high, but I can see how God has trained me so much already during my years studying His Word and studying technology. I realize that in many ways He has uniquely called me to make this happen.

I hope you’ll request at least one copy of this first CD, and consider getting several copies to hand out to others.

I’ve also created a new website to go with the CD’s called WhatGodSays.com. From there, you can listen to samples and sign up to receive an email whenever new titles are available. I hope to have the first ten titles or so done very soon, and we have another 50 or more waiting in the wings to be created in the future.

The best way you can help me is to pray. But you can also help me in two other ways.

We can produce 500 CD’s of one title for just $1,500. That’s incredibly cheap by recording industry standards. But that’s $1,500 more than we have. If there’s a particular title you would like to see us develop (you can see a list at the WhatGodSays.com), we could begin to work on that title with a $1,500 donation. We’re praying for at least 10 initial donors who would help us fund the development of the first 10 titles.

I wish I could offer you an earthly return on your investment, but I’m positive that the heavenly return God will give you will be worth much more than anything I could give you.

The other way you could help us is to consider committing to send a regular monthly gift to this ministry. James Dobson (head of Focus on the Family) sent out a newsletter last month that accurately describes a dilemma we’ve noticed in our own ministry for the past three years (you can read his letter at family.org/docstudy/newsletters/A0015866.html).

He said that the mainstay of their funding comes through gifts they receive in the mail as people write in to request information or help. But in recent months, many of those people have begun to use the Internet to contact their ministry. They’ve been able to respond to many more people as a result, but the downside is that people are less likely to include a gift when they correspond over the Internet.

We also continue to grow and reach out to more and more people, but our donations have not grown proportionately. We would like at least another 20 families or churches to make a commitment to send in a monthly gift. We continue to trust in God for our provision, but we also know that one of the ways He provides is through people like you.

Thanks for letting me share this. Like James Dobson, I don’t like to make this kind of appeal and I try not to do it very often. But I do feel it’s important to clearly state our needs so those who are interested can respond.

Please Pray with Us

There is power in prayer, and I hope you’ll pray along with us.

Thank you Lord,

  • for the volunteers you’ve provided to help us give individual care to those who come needing a touch from You;
  • for the growing number of people who are being drawn to You because they were drawn to our websites;
  • and for the inspiration and opportunities to continue expanding the territory of this ministry.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • that You would help each one of us to use our gifts to reach out to those around us;
  • that You would bless these writing projects and new CD’s to bring Your Word into the lives of people who desperately need it;
  • and for still more people to find their way to The Ranch and the KidsRanch so they can find their way to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have a great week! Don’t forget to use the gifts God’s given you to reach out to others!

We Appreciate Your Support!

If you would like to request a copy of “What God Says About Missions,” please visit the WhatGodSays.com website, where you can also make a donation to our ministry.

If you’d like to make a donation without ordering, just use the link here.

You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – March 2001

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Help Wanted at The Ranch, KIDSRANCH update and an upcoming book.

I was blessed recently to help Jennifer Ramsey record this beautiful collection of Christian hymns and choruses to lead people into quiet time with God.

I was blessed recently to help Jennifer Ramsey record this beautiful collection of Christian hymns and choruses to lead people into quiet time with God.

“Help Wanted” at The Ranch

Fourteen years ago God instilled within me a purpose for the rest of my life: to make God’s name known throughout the earth.

I was reminded of that purpose again these past few weeks as people have been signing up for this newsletter from places like Nuuk, Greenland; Tedlam, India; Kingston, Jamaica; and Lagos, Nigeria. (Welcome to everyone who’s new to this newsletter, whether you’re in Johannesburg, South Africa or Peoria, Illinois!)

Even though I have a very small ministry, I’m thrilled that God is able to amplify it throughout the world. In the past two years, over 80,000 people have visited The Ranch website from over 100 countries.

I feel a little bit like Moses may have felt when he stood at the edge of the Red Sea. God told Moses to do a little thing (raise his staff) and God did the BIG THING (parted the sea). And I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Moses to do his “little” thing, but it’s clear that it was God who did the BIG THING.

God has used November’s USA Today article to open even more doors for me to make God’s name known. These include:

  • a half-page story in the LaSalle-Peru (Illinois) NewsTribune,
  • an article in World Affairs Weekly, one of the major national magazines in Japan,
  • a radio interview on WPEO (Peoria, Illinois),
  • a law paper at the Hamline University School of Law (Minnesota),
  • an article in the University of British Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism Review (Canada),
  • and an Internet research project at Lincoln Christian College (Illinois).

These have come in large part because of your prayers that God would “bless us indeed and enlarge our territory.” But now I’m at a crossroads: I need you to either stop praying for God to bless us, or pray that God will raise others up to help!

What I need are some people who would help me correspond with and pray for those who come to The Ranch for encouragement. I answer as many e-mails as I can each day, but I still have about 300-400 e-mails waiting in my inbox, some of which have gone unanswered for months. Most of these are believers who need encouragement in their faith, a listening ear, and a prayer of hope.

The Bible says:

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).

If you’d like to help out by responding to 2-3 emails a month, or spending an hour or two a week in the chat room at The Ranch, I’d love to hear from you.

As I thought again this morning about raising up a network of volunteers for this purpose, I sensed God saying: “Eric, you raise your staff and I’ll part the sea and we’ll see many safely delivered to the other side.” Care to join me?

KidsRanch Takes Off

Thanks, too, for your prayers for the initial launch of the KidsRanch (kidsranch.org). In the first three months we’ve had over 9,000 visitors from 40 countries! The site has also become an instant hit with others doing Internet ministry. Here are a few of their reviews:

Tony Whittaker, who lives in the U.K. and writes the Web Evangelism Bulletin (web-evangelism.com) says:

“KidsRanch is a brilliant new evangelistic site for children. There is an excellent range of fun games, jokes, and stories. Especially commendable is the fact that it does not look like a Sunday School lesson, full of ‘churchy’ graphics; nor does it assume that readers know anything about the Bible or Christianity. Unlike the majority of Christian children’s pages, it is therefore very accessible to children with no Christian background. It also avoids preachiness, talking down to kids, or generally having a high ‘cringe’ factor. As so often in online evangelism, less is more.”

Tony recommends that churches who don’t have a kids section on their own website can link to the KidsRanch. If you’d like to link to it, I’ve set up a page to make it easy at kidsranch.org/.

Andrew Careaga, who lives in Missouri and literally wrote the books on E-vangelism (e-vangelism.com) and E-Ministry (eministryonline.com) says:

“We ring in the New Year with an excellent new evangelistic site for children, KidsRanch. … KidsRanch features plenty of games, jokes, stories (in text and video) and other interactivities (cursor-chasing ants and a virtual piano, to name a few) to keep kids — and adults — entertained for hours.”

And from Karl Bastian, Children’s Pastor in Barrington, Illinois and founder of Kidology University for children’s workers (kidology.org), comes my favorite review:

“Hey, Kids! This is the best site I’ve ever found for kids! You will find LOTS of really cool stuff to do!”

So if you haven’t visited the KidsRanch yet, it’s worth a peek at kidsranch.org.

Upcoming Book

One of the most common struggles that people write to me about is in the area of sexuality. I’m hoping to summarize some of the hundreds of letters I’ve written on this topic in a new book. This is a huge undertaking for me and I need God’s help to carve out the time to work on this project. Since I know prayer works, I’d love your prayers that God will help me write this book.

My hope is to have it finished in time for the annual Exodus International conference in August where I’ve been asked to speak on this topic.

Still Waters

A friend of ours, Jennifer Ramsey, is a beautiful pianist and often plays during communion at our church to help lead people into their own quiet times with God. I was blessed recently to help her record some of this music so people can use it in their own quiet times at home. You can listen to all of the songs at The Ranch at Still Waters.

If you’d like to order a copy of the whole CD, just fill out the Response Form. I believe the music will really bless you…and your gifts in return will help us to reach out to others with the love of Christ.

Please Pray with Us

On the home front, I’d appreciate your prayers for my Dad as he recovers from bypass surgery on his heart. The extended time I’ve spent with him the past month has been a great reminder of the gift of life and breath God’s given freely every day to each of us…and to those we love.

Thank you, Lord,

  • for the gift of life and breath,
  • for drawing thousands to the KidsRanch to learn about You,
  • and for creating each of us with a purpose and faithfully fulfilling it in our lives.

And Lord, we now ask

  • for You to speak to the hearts of those You want to join us in this work,
  • for the time and wisdom to write this book for those who struggle with sexuality,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We Appreciate Your Support!

This ministry is funded entirely by people like you.  In appreciation of your support, we’d be glad to send you a copy of Jennifer Ramsey’s CD “Still Waters.”  Just visit The Ranch Giftshop.  You can listen to the songs on this CD here.

You can also donate online or by mail by clicking here. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – December 2000

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

The Ranch Prayer Card, opening of the KIDSRANCH and the response from the USA Today story.

The KidsRanch is now open at www.kidsranch.org

The KidsRanch is now open at www.kidsranch.org

Every Prayer Counts

Even though the recent U.S. election has left some people wondering if every vote counts, I feel stronger than ever that every vote really does count.

But regardless of what I feel about that, there’s something of which I am totally certain: every prayer counts.

There are times when I’ve felt that God doesn’t need my prayers, that there are plenty of other people praying, that there’s no need to add mine. But I’ve realized that one vote in prayer, when added up with countless others, can tip the scales in the outcome of any situation. And unlike punch card ballots where you can vote only once, by praying we really can “vote early and vote often.”

I say this to encourage you in your own prayer life. If you think you’re prayers don’t count, think again.

In the Bible, Paul says that we should “pray continually” (1 Thessalonioans 5:17). Luke says that the disciples joined together “constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Jesus told stories to show us that we should “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

God wants us to pray continually. And he gives us this promise: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16, NLT).

Prayer Card

I also say this to encourage you to pray for us. I am confident of this: every single prayer you say for our family and for this ministry makes a difference. And when added to those of others around the world can tip the scales that mean life or death for someone who needs God.

For this reason, we’ve created a prayer card to remind you to pray for us. Click here (or click the picture below) for a printable version of the prayer card. We hope you’ll print it out and save it to remember to pray for us.

One woman told us a few years ago that she put our picture on her refrigerator and from time to time she’d hold her hand up to our family picture and pray for us. That really touched our hearts and we know it touched our lives: prayer is the foundation for every good thing that comes out of this ministry. Every single prayer really does count!!

KIDSRANCH Now Open!!!

With so many kids on the Internet, I’ve wanted for some time now to create a website just for them that would be both fun and encouraging, and at the same time give them the gospel message.

This summer, about 200 kids at our church’s Vacation Bible School helped me to start creating just such a site. This past week I’ve been able to finish it up and open it for kids from all over the world to visit at www.kidsranch.org. I hope you’ll visit the KidsRanch and have some fun exploring it on your own. Even though I created the site specifically for kids 13 and under, there are tons of games and jokes, music and stories that will appeal to young and old alike (you can play “Asteroids” as long as you want – and you don’t have to put a quarter in every 3 minutes!)

Thanks again to everyone who contributed materially or financially to make the KidsRanch possible. Please pray right now that God will use the KidsRanch to draw kids closer to Him.

Tell your friends about the site, and stop by the KidsRanch yourself and let me know what you think! (Please note that the address is “www.kidsranch.org,” NOT “www.kidsranch.com,” which is someone else’s website!)

USA Today Response

Thanks, too, for your prayers for the USA TODAY article. The article itself, plus the incredible response to it, has been nothing but positive. Here’s a direct link to the article in case you missed it, or if you want to pass it on to others to introduce them to The Ranch: www.usatoday.com.

I know your prayers worked because the secular press is not always so favorable to religion in general, nor to evangelists in particular! The response was immediate as I began to get emails from people all over the U.S. who “happened” to find the paper that day. Several other papers and electronic newsletters picked up the story and did similarly favorable follow-up articles.

We’ve averaged about 3,000-4,000 visitors each month this year at The Ranch website, but last month that number shot up to over 8,000 visitors, our highest month ever.

I’ll let you know some of the specific responses in the future, but I’m still trying to make my way through all of the emails myself! If you’re one of those awaiting a response, please bear with me as I wade through this increased blessing!

I’d also ask you to pray again for Leslie Miller at USA Today who did such an excellent job writing the article, that God would continue to bless the use of her words. I’ve since found out that to buy a half-page ad in USA Today the size of this article would cost $45,000!! Sounds like a Jabez-sized answer to prayer to me! (www.prayerofjabez.com, 1 Chronicles 4:10).

Year-End Gifts

One of the things Leslie pointed out in the article is that I am very low-key in my requests for funding for this ministry. Sometimes I’m too low-key and I know some of you want to know how we’re doing.

Quite honestly, we operate at less than 50% of what we’ve budgeted to run the ministry. So far this year, we’ve received an average of $2,300 a month in donations. From this we pay my salary to support my family and all the computer and other costs needed to run the ministry. To say we run a tight ship is an understatement, and we do indeed need your help. Just like every prayer counts, every dollar counts, too.

As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, we will send you a tax-deductible receipt for your gifts of cash, stocks, vehicles, even land (we’re praying for a physical ranch where we can offer spiritual retreats for people who need encouragement in their faith). Please postmark any year-end gifts by December 31st to be deducted from this year’s taxes.

Please Pray with Us

Thank you, Lord,

  • for the chance to proclaim your name to hundreds of thousands through the USA TODAY and the follow up articles,
  • for the help and support of everyone who contributed to the the KidsRanch,
  • and for providing the funds to continue this ministry this year.

And Lord, we now ask

  • for increasing resources to handle the increasing ministry,
  • that you would draw kids to the KidsRanch who need to learn about You and grow in their faith,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Time for a Boost!

Dear friends, we do need your help. Thanks so much if you’re already donating to our ministry. If not, we’d love for you to join us. We’re currently operating at less than 50% of our budget and would appreciate any boost you could give us, either as a monthly commitment or a one-time gift. Thanks for considering us in your giving plans.

You can donate directly online by clicking the “donate now” button below.

If you’d like to make a donation of and receive a CD, such as “Marilyn Byrnes: Christmas”, or “Eric Elder : Clear My Mind”, just click Take It With You. You can listen to samples at www.1piano.com. Your gifts will help our ministry greatly! Thanks!

You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – December 1999

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Special Christmas Webcast, Stocking up on your faith, we’re expecting!

Watch our live Christmas special, "Stocking Up on Your Faith," on Thursday, December 16th at 9pm Central.

Watch our live Christmas special, “Stocking Up on Your Faith,” on Thursday, December 16th at 9pm Central.

Merry Christmas!

We had a great start to the Christmas season this past weekend. Over 200 people from our church put on an hour-long tour through the city of Bethlehem, complete with live cows, donkeys and Roman soldiers on horses.

Lana and the kids dressed up to work in the marketplace, selling live chickens and sheep. I was one of the tour guides, taking groups through the city, watching out for thieves and beggars, and trying to get past the Roman soldiers. It was quite a production, and gave us a great sense of “being there” at the greatest birth ever recorded.

Back at The Ranch, we’re planning for a special broadcast this Thursday, December 16th. I’ll be sharing some practical ways people can “stock up on their faith” for the New Year.

With Y2K just around the corner, no one knows exactly what will happen. But there’s one thing we can stock up on that will help us through anything: FAITH. If you can get on the Internet and watch, I’d love for you to join us in the chat room afterwards. But for those of you who can’t make it, let me share here some of the ways to stock up on your faith.

Stocking Up on Your Faith

1. Read the Bible Regularly

The Bible is full of stories of ordinary people just like you and me who faced impossible circumstances. Yet, by faith they accomplished extra-ordinary things. (You can read about some of them in Hebrews Chapter 11.)

When we read and reread the stories of how God has worked in lives of others, we increase our faith that He will work in ours, too.

2. Pray regularly and listen for God’s direction

God has many things He wants to tell us. He has a unique purpose for each of our lives. Through prayer, we can not only ask Him questions, but we can also listen for his answers. God can help us know what to do each day, and what to do for the rest of our lives.

Bring your requests to God, and be sure to take time to listen for his answers. Here’s how King David prayed: “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3)

3. Be Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only.

Faith is like a muscle: the more you use it the stronger it gets.

A friend recently said that she loved having a treadmill in her house. Even though she hardly ever used it, it made her feel better just knowing it was there anytime she wanted to exercise.

We sometimes treat the Bible and prayer the same way. We feel better just knowing we have access to them anytime we need them. But if we don’t make a habit of reading, praying and putting our faith into action, we will be in no better shape than if we didn’t have access to those things at all.

The apostle James says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22, KJV).

Just as exercising our body makes us stronger physically, exercising our faith makes us stronger spiritually. Make sure you’ve got a good supply of faith on hand for the New Year. Read your Bible. Pray. Then put your faith into action.

Good News

At home we have some good news! Great news, actually…Lana and I are expecting our 5th baby in June! You may know that we’ve had several miscarriages a few years ago, so I’m glad to report that Lana passed her first trimester with a good report from the doctor. We’ll greatly appreciate your prayers through the rest of the pregnancy.

Other good news has come in the form of some year-end E-Mails. Some of these people were in depressed, even suicidal states at the end of last year because of struggles in their lives. But they are ending this year full of faith that God is alive and active, in part due to our Internet ministry and your prayers.

One says, “I cannot believe that I am ending 1999 so differently as to how I began it.”

Another says, “Thanks so much for all you do in the Lord’s service. It has been some time since I was on the Internet because of struggles, etc. I am now back on and tonight I revisited The Ranch. It was like taking a walk down memory lane. So many feeling flooded my heart as I looked around and remembered what God did through you in my heart.”

And another says, “Just wanted to drop you a line and pray that your ministry is going well! Also, wanted to let you know that the porn junk has not been a part of my life since August! What a wonderful relief…and peace that passeth all understanding! The big test was last night…my wife had to be gone and will also be gone tonight…In the past these were time times that I would indulge myself in illicit chat, cyber porn, or rented movies…But you know, Eric…that was not even a temptation last night…due to people like you and guys on the forum who have held me up in prayer…made myself accountable to my wife…God is good and a faithful deliverer! May God continue to bless you my brother.”

Amsterdam 2000

Billy Graham is holding an invitation-only event next July in Amsterdam. They’ve had over 75,000 applications and will choose 10,000 to attend, 75% of which will come from developing nations. It will be the largest gathering of its type ever known.

I was a bit surprised, but thrilled when I was recently invited to attend. I’d like to accept the invitation, but I’ll need to raise $2,200 between now and then in order to attend.

If someone happens to have enough frequent flyer miles to donate to get me from Chicago to Amsterdam and back, that would further reduce my costs. If you, or your church, or your Sunday School class would be interested in sponsoring me for this special event, please let me know as soon as possible to I can respond to their invitation. You can read more about the event at: www.amsterdam2000.org.

Special Needs

Some people have asked if we have any special needs right now, so here are a few of those as well.

  • The sound has gone out on our camcorder for the broadcasts and we need a new or used one to replace it.
  • I’m needing a new or used midi keyboard to digitize my music for use on the Internet.
  • We’re needing a second vehicle for me to use when I’m on the road so Lana can have some transportation while I’m gone.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for all You’ve done for each one of us this year;
  • for giving us faith that no matter what happens in the future, You will still be here for us;
  • and for leading us and guiding us every step of the way.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for an increase in our faith to believe You and to take You at your Word;
  • for the provision to accomplish all You have put before us;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lord bless you and Merry Christmas!

USA Today Feature Article About Eric Elder And The Ranch

Here’s a feature article USA Today wrote about our ministry for their November 13, 2000 issue, which focused on how the Internet is changing the way people work.

USA Today Feature Article About Eric Elder And The Ranch, November 13, 2000

(Photo caption) Real Deal: Eric Elder operates a full-time ministry on the Internet called TheRanch.org. “I have this message I want to get out, and the Internet was made for delivering messages,” he says.


Web pastor spreads God’s word on the Net
New breed of evangelist goes beyond the church to reach out to thousands of cyber-visitors a month
by Leslie Miller
USA TODAY

High Tech executives may put “Internet Evangelist” on their business cards, but Eric Elder is the real deal.

“Some people would say I’m a Webmaster.   Some people would say I’m a Webcaster.  Some people would say I’m a Web Pastor,” he observes dryly.  “But I like to say I’m doing what God’s called me to do – reach out to others around me.”

Elder, 37, is a new breed of evangelist – a high-tech, low-key minister who runs TheRanch.org, a spiritual retreat center that exists only in Cyberspace.

Thousands of visitors a month stop by to chat, see half-hour videos of Elder preaching, meditate with music and Scripture, or read people’s stories about how God has touched their lives.

“My particular message is that God is real, and he cares deeply about each one of us,” Elder says.  “I have this message that I want to get out, and the Internet was made for delivering messages.”  He says he’s “not trying to transfer the concept of church to the Internet.  I love church.  I belong to a church.  Church is great.  But in a church, my message only goes about a hundred feet.  On the Net if goes to a hundred countries.

“As a Christian, Jesus has called us to reach all the world.  Preach the gospel to all creation.  This is just one more way to do that.”

That’s something a growing number of believers – clergy and others – are beginning to realize.  In a survey by Christianity Today magazine, 56 of 1,400 subscribers to Christian e-mail lists said they shared their faith online regularly, or often, mostly via e-mail.  Women (62%) were more inclined to do so than men (47%).

“This is grass-roots people on the Web who are talking to their friends, says Keith Stonehocker, senior vice president of Christianity Today.

He presented survey findings Nov. 4 at a conference sponsored by the Internet Evangelism Coalition, a group made up of more than 30 Christian organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Campus Crusade for Christ International.

Almost half of those surveyed (49%) said their church has a web page, and 18% said they personally know someone who has  become a Christian as a result of online evangelism.  For respondents under age 24, it was almost 25%.

“The last couple of years have seen just about every ministry organization recognize that this is a long-term need, to have a presence on the World Wide Web,” says Robbie Richardson, director of Gospel Communications Network, one of the organizers.  “This conference is focused on helping stimulate Christians to begin to realize that this tool can be used not just for resourcing other Christians, but for evangelization.”

Not a hobby

Elder is ahead of the curve.  Unlike some techie pastors or layfolk who create church websites as a hobby, he’s a full-time Net minister, as well as a full-fledged tech professional.

He learned the intricacies of computer networks as a researcher for Texaco’s Advanced Technology Group for nine years where he developed the companies first Web site – and came to recognize the Web’s potential for encouraging people in their faith.

He was ordained in 1995 and served as an associate pastor at a church in Texas for a year, then started his own non-profit ministry to focus full-time on Cyberspace.

Eric Elder Ministries is based out of his home in Streator, a central-Illinois town of 14,000 about an hour from Peoria.  Both he and his wife, Lana, grew up in the area and like being near family.  She’s homeschooling their five kids, who range in age from 9 years to 4 months.

Elder understands that some people are turned off or intimidated by churches: he hopes the image of a laid-back retreat center will attract them and show them there’s another way to deal with the stress and trouble in their lives.

“I believe God’s message, that he loves people, is for everyone,” he says. “The Ranch taps into the idea that people need a place to slow down and take a break.”

He uses the web to draw visitors in, then backs off.  “People searching for God usually want to explore on their own, without people getting in their face,” he says.

The 180-page site feels spacious and easy to navigate.  It’s also technologically cutting edge, with live Webcasts, streaming audio and video, and chat options.  Extensive text is there, too, so those who can’t access multimedia don’t miss out.

Elder attempts to help lonely and depressed people find The Ranch by coding its pages with words they might type into search engines, but he notes that his goal, and the thrust of his site, “is to point people back to God and the Bible and seek him out themselves.”

Still, many visitors end up seeking Elder out to talk because something is weighing on their conscience that “they don’t feel comfortable talking about to a pastor or spouse or friends,” he says.

The Net feels more anonymous, and Elder seems non-judgmental.  He shares intimate details of his own faith journey on the site, and in photos smiling with his family, he looks relaxed and approachable.

“People will open up with me and say, “I have never told anyone this in my life.  But you look like someone I can talk to,” he says.

Elder’s modest demeanor and sophisticated grasp of technology often disarm those who expect Bible-based evangelists to be all fire and brimstone, and his approach seems to appeal to those “who have been turned off by some of the louder people.”

But he recognizes that his style doesn’t work for everybody.  “Some people need a football-coach kind of guy to really kick-em’ in gear, frankly.  We all have different gifts and can reach a different segment of the population.”

He also differs from many church-based preachers in that he avoids discussing denominational affiliations.  He believes it tends to alienate people.  “I try to remove any barriers,” he says.

‘What’s important to us’

Another potential barrier is the blatant pitches for money that people often associate with televangelists.  So Elder steers clear of fundraising on the site.  Instead, he sends out a regular newsletter to those who request it, with updates about the ministry and its needs.

He can do this because the cost of preaching on the Web are much less than for those evangelizing on TV – just “my salary and a nominal amount” for computer costs.  About 85% of his support comes from donations, mostly from friends and family.  Only a small fraction is from website visitors he’s never met.  The other 15% of his income is from his part-time work designing Web sites for other ministries, a project he started last year at 101sites.com.

His family lives in a house owned by his in-laws, and Streator “is not a high-rent district,” Elder notes. It’s a matter of scaling down how we live in order to do what’s important to us.”

Elder is well aware of the limits of technology.  “Even though I do an Internet ministry, I’m not dependent on the Net to get my message out.  God is interested in the hearts of people, and he will use any means possible to reach as many as possible before the end comes.

“If my Web server goes down, it’s frustrating.  But God will still break through to people’s hearts.

“Before there was a World Wide Web, there was a world wide God.  And he still works overtime.”

News From The Ranch – October 2000

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Feature story about The Ranch in USA Today, The Prayer of Jabez, a special Christmas CD.

Christmas, by Marilyn Byrnes

If you like piano music, I think you’ll love this new CD of relaxing Christmas music now available through our ministry.

USA TODAY Article

If you’ve read my newsletter for any length of time, you know that I always end with a prayer that people will find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to God.

If you’ve prayed that prayer with me, I know you’ll be excited to hear the most recent answer. I got an email a few weeks ago from Leslie Miller at USA Today. She had found The Ranch and asked if she could interview me about our Internet ministry for a special technology section they’re publishing on Monday, November 13th.

(Here’s a direct link: www.usatoday.com.)

So we set up an interview and talked on the phone for a couple of hours. You can bet that Lana and I did a little house cleaning when she said she was sending a photographer! It was all very exciting, but what’s even more exciting is that God can use this article to send His message of love and forgiveness through His Son to more people in one day than I’ve been able to reach in my entire lifetime. USA Today has 2.2 million readers! (with 13.1 million online readers!)

I’m excited because I know that God Himself is trying to reach out to His people, and He’ll use whatever means He can to do it. I want you to pray with me that God will use this to draw thousands of people closer to Him, whether they come to The Ranch, or are simply touched by the article itself.

I’m praying that not one person would skip over this article if God is trying to touch them through it. Even if someone just picks up a copy on a chair at an airport, or they find it under their hotel room door, or they see a copy at a gas station, I pray God would not let them put it down until He’s had a chance to speak to them through the article.

Because next Monday’s deadline is so close, would you pray with me right now before you go any further in this newsletter? Pray that the final wording of the article would say exactly what God wants to say to reach out to His people, and that many would click onto The Ranch so they can draw closer to Him. I hope you’ll pray right now, then keep reading the rest of the newsletter.

The Prayer of Jabez

When I first heard about this USA Today interview, I was reading a little book called The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. Jabez was a man in the Bible who prayed a little prayer and saw great results. He asked God to bless him and enlarge his territory – and God did (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Bruce Wilkinson suggests that we could pattern our own prayers after Jabez by praying something like this: “O God and King, please expand my opportunities and my impact in such a way that I touch more lives for your glory.”

So I began to pray this prayer and a few days later got the email from USA Today! I hurried up to finish the book to find out what to do next! I’ve heard that God has already used this book in many people’s lives. If you’d like to read more about this little prayer, you can visit: www.prayerofjabez.com.

Websites

Speaking of websites, I’m putting the finishing touches on the KidsRanch website at www.kidsranch.org. It’s been really fun to put together and I believe it will be fun and encouraging for both kids and adults. Please pray with me that God will speak through me as I write the final pages on the site that will tell kids that God really does exist and He really does care about their lives.

In the mean time, you can take a look at a church website I just finished at www.christiscentral.com. You’ll find great sermons, topics for teens, thoughts on worship, plus a whole lot more. I also think this website will help you with many ideas if your own church is going on the web.

Letters

Back at The Ranch, here are a few of the letters people have written.

A woman from Colorado writes:

“As always, I have just enjoyed a brief visit at the ranch 🙂 I sent your link to a few friends tonight, as I had not done that before for them. I hope to be back soon.”

Another woman found The Ranch when she did a search on the Internet for “someone to talk to” and it brought her to my site. She poured out her heart in an email and ended with this:

“I’m sitting here now debating whether to hit the send button. I feel so much better just for having written out some of the things that have been weighing on me. That makes me think that maybe I can just delete this and carry on. On the other hand, if God set it up, who am I to try and defy it? Send it is. Thank you again.”

A man from North Carolina writes:

“I am listening to your CD [online] and I can barely type. I am crying so hard. The HEALING in your playing is AWESOME!! My heart is so refreshed. I have been in a horrible battle and pit that I couldn’t pull out of and Jesus has climbed down in that pit to get me and start pulling me out as I listen to this CD.”

And it’s not often I get to quote a writer from USA Today, so here’s a quote from Leslie Miller, too:

“I look at a lot of religion-oriented Web sites, and yours really stands out – it’s one of the best I’ve seen, and I’d like to feature it in USA Today if you’re agreeable to that.”

Christmas CD

Many of you know that I love to play the piano, but you may not know that my sister’s really the pianist in the family.

She’s extremely talented and went to college on a music scholarship (so I’m not the only one who thinks she’s good!) So I was glad last month to help her record her second CD, this one of beautiful Christmas music. We’re making it available to you this month through our ministry.

It features traditional Christmas songs like Joy to the World, Silent Night, and What Child is This? all expressed in a fresh and relaxing style, similar to George Winston.

The CD’s are strikingly beautiful, not only in their sound but also in the way they look, so they’ll make great Christmas gifts as well. I already heard from one woman in Chicago who’s getting copies for her friends:

“I got the CD. It’s awesome! I am making my list and checking it twice right now.”

You can use the enclosed response form to order copies and you can listen to samples at www.1piano.com. Your donations will go a long way in helping us minister to others over the Internet.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you, Lord,

  • for answering our prayers to draw people to The Ranch so they can draw close to You,
  • for the opportunity to reach out to millions with Your message through this USA Today article,
  • and for using this new technology to spread Your Word throughout the world.

And Lord, we now ask

  • that every person You want to reach through the article will find it and read it,
  • for Your Words and wisdom as I finalize the KidsRanch,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Donations and Christmas CD

If you’d like to make a donation of $15 or more and receive the “Marilyn Byrnes: Christmas” CD, please fill out the response form. Songs include: Silent Night, The First Noel, The Holly and the Ivy, O Holy Night, Auld Lang Syne, and more. Hear a sample at www.1piano.com. Your gifts will help our ministry greatly! Thanks!

If you don’t want the CD but would like to donate to our ministry directly, click the “donate now” button for credit card donations.

You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – August 2000

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

A report from Amsterdam 2000, quotable quotes from Amsterdam speakers, and VBS update.

Franklin Graham at Amsterdam 2000

Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, shares tips with us about how he and his father preach evangelistic messages.

Amsterdam 2000

Thanks so much to everyone who prayed for me and contributed to my trip to the Amsterdam 2000 Conference for Evangelists.

There were 10,267 participants from 209 countries around the world. It was said to be the most international gathering of any kind, whether secular or religious.

As I walked through the hallways at the convention center, I felt like I was “walking among giants” with people like: J.I. Packer, John Stott, Luis Palau, Bill Bright, Franklin Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Chuck Colson, Joni Erickson Tada, Ravi Zacharias, Rick Warren and a host of others. Their names may not be household words to everyone, but they are the names of some of the most distinguished evangelists and Christian leaders in the world.

For nine days we were exposed to their collective wisdom and inspiration. The purpose was to encourage us in our work, equip us for greater effectiveness, and expand our vision for how God might work through us in the world. I know it did each of those things for me.

But what brought me to tears one afternoon was a thought that came to me while a group of us were praying and thanking God for this experience. The thought was this: as remarkable as it was to “sit at the feet” of these godly men and women and learn from them, isn’t it even more remarkable that any one of us can come to God Himself anytime in prayer to get wisdom directly from Him!

What a privilege to be able to sit at the feet of the King of Kings to ask Him for wisdom to help us through anything.

The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, NIV).

I’m grateful for all that I learned from the speakers in Amsterdam, and I’m also grateful that I can come to God anytime through prayer to continue to learn from His wealth of knowledge.

Nuggets of Wisdom

You can still watch the main sessions of the conference at www.amsterdam2000.org. For starters, I’d recommend the messages by Billy Kim, Anne Graham Lotz, and Franklin Graham.

But I also want to share a few of the nuggets of wisdom I heard during the conference.

For instance, Billy Kim said that the Coca-Cola company puts Christians to shame. In the company’s vision statement they say that they see six billion consumers in a thirsty world all being refreshed by Coca-Cola. Their vision is for everyone in the world to have a taste of Coca-Cola by the end of the year 2000. Mr. Kim continued, “Yet we do not have a vision or a strategy to let everybody in this world taste the living water of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said: “But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” (John 4:14)

He then quoted C.H. Spurgeon who was once asked, “Can a man be saved if the gospel is not preached to him?” Spurgeon replied, “The real question is: Are we saved if we do not preach the gospel to him?”

The theologian J.I. Packer said that we can be both deep thinkers and simple presenters of the gospel. Billy Graham once told an interviewer, “I study to be simple.”

Greg Laurie said that whenever we preach the gospel, we must leave the results to God, remembering that “the harvest is not at the end of the service, but at the end of the age.”

Joni Erickson Tada spoke from her wheelchair about how she has to call on God for help from the moment she wakes up in the morning. She then added that she wonders if those with the real handicap are those who think they can get up and go through their entire day without ever calling on God for help.

Gerry Gallimore said that Jesus told a religious leader of his day, “You must be born again” (John 3:7, NIV), reminding us that a person can be religious, yet still unconverted. Mr. Gallimore then boldly, but gracefully said, “Could it be that there are some here who have not yet made Jesus Christ Lord of your life? Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be born again! How are we to introduce anyone to Jesus Christ if we do not ourselves have a personal experience of His saving grace.”

Ajith Fernando of Sri Lanka said that Christians are sometimes charged with arrogance because of Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God when he said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Mr. Fernando said, “The real arrogance is for we humans to reject our Creator.” Then he added, “If we [Christians] don’t share the answer we’ve found, we are selfish.”

And finally, Luis Palau shared that as a teenager he wanted to preach but he was hesitant. His mother asked him what he was waiting for and he said, “I’m waiting for ‘the call.’” His mother said, “The Call?!? The Call?!? The call went out 2,000 years ago!! The Lord is waiting for the answer, not for the call!!”

Going Forward

God spoke to me frequently though the speakers at the conference and also through some of the other participants with whom I shared meals and tram rides to and from our hotels. The call has gone out, and I am committed more than ever to go forward in answer to it. Thanks again to those who made it possible for me to go to this once-in-a-lifetime conference.

Vacation Bible School

Thanks, too, for those of you who prayed about my opportunity to speak at our church’s Vacation Bible School. Because I was in Amsterdam the same week as VBS, I taped my segments about missions which were played to the kids each day.

When I returned, I heard that a record number of kids had attended, and that they were indeed impacted by the missions segments. They even raised over $1,500 for missions to help us in our Internet outreach! They also helped to write jokes and stories to include on our new gospel website for kids. You’ll be able to see it soon at www.kidsranch.org.

Please Pray with Us

Lana and I really appreciate and value your prayers. They do make a difference.

Thank you, Lord,

  • for the prayers and support of those who helped make it possible for me to go to Amsterdam 2000,
  • for the words You spoke to me during the conference,
  • and for moving on the hearts of kids to get involved in missions.

And Lord, we now ask

  • for your continued inspiration as we go forward in ministry,
  • for creativity as I create this new gospel website for kids around the world,
  • and for people to find their way to The Ranch (and The Kid’s Ranch!) so they can find their way to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Donations

Please note that donations can now be made to our ministry online at this link. It takes less than a minute to complete the transaction and would bless us tremendously. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Prayer Update December 2011

’m starting a new prayer team this month for our ministry for anyone interested in praying for our ministry here at The Ranch in the days ahead. If you’d like to join our prayer team and receive these updates every month or so in the future, just send me an email and I’d be glad to add you to the list. Your prayers really do make a difference, and know that we deeply appreciate it.

Here are our prayer requests and praises for December…

We’ve been doing some much-needed fund raising the past few months, trying to raise an additional $2,500 in monthly support, and an additional $15,000 in one-time gifts. So far, we’ve raised $1,070 in additional monthly gifts from 12 new supporters and 1 family who has increased their gift. We’ve also raised $9,530 in one-time gifts from another 18 supporters, some of whom are new to supporting our ministry, and some of whom are already monthly donors. So praise God! We’re moving along! But we still have about $1,430 to go in monthly commitments, and $5,470 to go in one-time gifts. So we’d still appreciate your prayers that we’re able to reach 100% of our goal.

Also, if you know of anyone who might be interested in hearing about what we’re doing, and the cool way God is using the Internet to reach out to people around the world, we’d love to share it with them. I’d be glad to visit with individuals or families or groups in person, whether small groups, or a gathering of friends, or a Sunday School class, or a missions committee…whoever might be interested! I’ve also recorded an update on our ministry that I’ve put on YouTube that you can forward to your friends if you’d like to share our ministry with them. Here’s the link to the video:

www.youtube.com/watch

I’m also including a link below where people can make donations, whether monthly or one-time, and whether online, by mail, or Electronic Funds Transfer. (Also, if you’d be interested in making a donation or increasing your monthly donation, you can just let me know by email anytime, and that will help me in our planning for next year.)

theranch.org/Make-A-Donation.359.0.html

I know some of you have already seen this presentation that I’ve posted on YouTube, but it still amazes me to think that we’re now reaching over 35,000 people every week by email with our messages from over 160 countries. If you’ve been following along with us over the years, you’ll know that I often end my prayer letters by saying, “And pray that God will draw people to The Ranch so He can draw people to Himself.” Wow! How God has answered those prayers! And we just keep on praying for more.

Here are a few of the emails that came in last few days from people who are grateful for the ministry. I thought I’d pass along their thanks to you for helping to make this ministry possible…

 

From Malaysia: “It’s a blessing that I am able to read your emails. Your word is so apt in its timing. Sometimes I wonder if God is saying something to me through you. Keep writing, you have a gift and I am so glad that you are using this gift to glorify Him. God Bless You.”

 

From India: “You will not remember me but you have prayed for me in the past and, for that, I thank you again. I am also a fairly regular visitor to your website and I receive your sermons from This Day’s Thought. I have a question for you. I am a Christian and my wife is a Hindu. I want to tell her about Jesus but don’t know how. How do I explain to her the joy in my heart and the courage and confidence that only my faith can provide? We do talk about it but I don’t seem to have the words to explain.”

From the UK: “You are so right about thinking of Jesus as a saviour and sometimes not having Him as Lord of our lives too. Today’s reading made me take stock of what you said, and I recommitted and surrendered my life afresh and asked Jesus to be Lord of my life also as well as being my saviour.”

From North Carolina: “Thanks for this site. It helps me a lot.”

 

Thanks for helping these–and many more–find their hope and answers in Christ!

On the home front, Lucas came home from Hillsong College in Australia last Wednesday night, and we’re glad to have him here for 8 weeks as he’s planning to go back again in January for his second year. We’re praying for him, too, as we’ve helped him as much as we can for his first year of school, and he’s worked as much as he can, too. But he doesn’t qualify for grants or student loans as the school is overseas, so it’s been an extra step of faith to send him over. He’s needing $6,800 in the next 4-5 weeks to pay for next year’s tuition and fees, which need to be paid up front in order to apply for another year of his student visa. He’s able to work over there to make up the rest of the money, but if you could pray for his funding, whether from gifts, grants, friends, or any other means, that would be terrific!

Karis is back home with us this year, taking her third-year college classes at Heartland College and working in Bloomington, so we’re thankful to have a full-house again for the next few weeks anyway. Makari is dancing in a Christmas show this weekend and the next. Josiah and Bo are in scouting and Kaleo is in dance and tumbling–all are working away at their homeschooling and enjoying life here in the country. Lana’s become quite a runner this year, running down the country roads, on the treadmill and even a 5K race to help orphans. (This isn’t meant to be a Christmas letter, but just thought you’d like a little glimpse of what life looks like around our house this month!)

That’s the update from here…thanks for reading and for praying for us. We truly appreciate it, and we know that God hears and answers your prayers on our behalf.

Love,
Eric and Lana Elder and family

P.S. Here are those links again to watch the YouTube video or to make a donation. Thanks for your prayers and forwarding these on if you know of others who might be interested!
www.youtube.com/watch

theranch.org/Make-A-Donation.359.0.html

Lana’s Africa Talk

Notes from Lana Elder’s talk to the “Young at Heart” group at our church about our upcoming missions trip to Africa (given October 25, 2005).

I was reading this verse the other day and was reminded of our trip to Africa and how God cares for the hungry and wants us to care as well. God desires for us to be His hands and feet to those in need.

Isaiah 58:10

“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.”

I have always had a burden for the poor and for orphans and when I first heard about this trip there was a definite stiring in my spirit by God to go and do something for the poverty that is rampant in Africa. What I really was excited about with this trip is that we get to help the people of Africa learn how to provide for themselves through “Never Ending Gardens.” These gardens are not just a one time thing but can continue to provide the life sustaining food that is essential for their survival. I know there are food programs in place that bring food over to Africa and I think those are great as well. They are definitely desired by the Africans and needed to provide for the hungry. But this program is different in that we will be able to teach the people of Africa so that they can provide for themselves and for their families for future generations through the planting of gardens.

Again, this is something that has been a desire of my heart for sometime….to be able to go and do something for the people of Africa who are without food. I have 6 children of my own and I know how much they eat and eat and eat. They eat breakfast and then about when I’m done cleaning that up they want a snack and then it seems it is lunch time, another afternoon snack and then dinner time. I feel like sometimes we eat all day. I have never known what it is like to be hungry and I hope I never have to know what it is like. I imagine most of you have never had to experience hunger for a very long period of time. Maybe some of you lived through the Great Depression or at least heard stories from your parents about how there were food rations and the cost of food was more than people could afford. For us, that was just for a time in America’s history. But for the people of Swaziland and South Africa, this is something they have to deal with almost daily.

The organization we are going with is called Dream for Africa and I got this description off of their website.

Dream for Africa is a faith-based humanitarian movement that mobilizes volunteers from various nations to achieve enduring solutions in sub-Sahara Africa related to hunger and food security, orphans and vulnerable children, poverty alleviation, and AIDS prevention.

Besides the never-ending gardens program that Dream for Africa runs they also are teaching AIDS prevention classes through abstinance education and are working on building orphanages for the large number of orphans they expect to have in Africa due to the AIDS virus.

One of the first hesitations I had about going came when I considered the amount of money that we would need to raise. I imediately thought, “There is no way. It would have to be God if we raised that much money.” And I still think that. It will have to be God. We can not possibly do this on our own. But he continues to put the burden on our hearts and so we will continue to make people aware of what the Body of Christ is doing in Africa to alleviate the poverty and hunger that faces that nation.

When I considered the cost again I thought, “Why don’t we just raise the $14,000 that we need and then send it over there for the people to buy their own food or buy their own plants.” Then I thought, “Well, why doesn’t God just send the $14,000 to them directly. Why get me involved? And while He’s at it….why doesn’t He just send them the food and water and everything else that they need. Why get me involved? And I have to remind myself that God sometimes wants us to be His hands and feet to the people He wants to reach through us. I don’t believe it’s just the physical food that they need, but they are also in need of spiritual food. I know we will have the opportunity to tell people about God and His son Jesus Christ and how He has changed our lives and can change theirs, too. He can provide for the food that they need and for the money we need to get there to tell them.

In our Wednesday night women’s Bible study we were talking about God’s glory and how God’s glory is something that reflects Him and it’s the way He makes Himself known. When God revealed Himself to Moses in the cleft of the rock, Moses asked to see God’s glory and God passed before him. The Bible says Moses’ face was radiant. He was reflecting God’s glory. It reminded me that God may want to show His glory through us through the work of planting gardens for people to have the life sustaining food that they need. I can only imagine how happy a mother would be to know that the food she needs to feed her family is right out her back door. I pray we will be able to reflect His glory through our actions and through the work we will be doing of planting gardens. I believe God will receive the glory only He deserves for the work of planting the gardens.

I myself have planted many gardens in my backyard. And you would think it’s a very simple process of just sticking a plant down in the ground and waiting for it to grow. But first the ground needs to be tilled, then the plants can go in and then you can’t plant some plants in the same place year after year or the ground will be depleted of certain nutrients. Sometimes the things that look simple are actually harder than you think. And sometimes you have to be shown how to do something before you are able to do it yourself.

I remember when Eric and I went on a missions trip to the Philippines about 10 years ago. We went to share the gospel door to door through street evangelism. Many people came to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior that week. But this was another time when I had that initial question of “Lord, can’t you just send someone from the Philippines to go door to door. I mean, why do I have to go all the way over there from the United States to share the gospel when there are believers in the Philippines who could do the same thing.” Again, God reminded me that it wasn’t all about me but it was about what He wanted to do through me and our team of people in the Philippines. And I will never forget the young lady from the Philippines that I was paired up with to go door to door. She was the translator. I would share the gospel and she would translate into the native language. She said, “This is so simple. I can’t believe how easy it is to do this. Thank you so much for coming over here to show us how to share the gospel like this. We are forever grateful.” Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to come in show someone else how to do something like sharing the gospel. I don’t always stop to think of the impact that trip had on generations of people who came to know Christ. But when I do I have to say “Yes, Lord, it was definitely worth every penny it cost to get there.”

There is a verse in the book of James chapter 2 verses 14 – 18 that says….

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Now you may not be able physically to DO the things James is talking about…. But I know we are all able to pray and some of you may be able to give financially. And I believe your prayers and gifts are recorded along with those who are able to go and do the physical work God is putting on their hearts to do.

Paul talks to the Philippians from Philippi about the act of giving and he says in Philippians 4:17

“…. you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.”

I believe your account will be credited for the prayers and gifts you are able to give.

Earlier I read a verse from Isaiah that talks about feeding the hungry and I want to finish with a similar verse. These verses encourage me that this is what God desires for us to do…feed the hungry…take care of the poor…give the thirsty something to drink. These are words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 25:31 – 46.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I believe this is what God desires for us to do…feed the hungry…give a drink to the thirsty …and I believe He is calling us to go to Africa to do this.

If you’d like to make a donation to our trip to Africa, please visit this link: Make a Donation. For a donation of any size to our trip, we’ll send you a reminder wristband than says “God is Here” to remind you that God is always with you as well as to remind you to pray for our trip. Thanks so much!

News From The Ranch – June 2000

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

A new baby, a new website for kids, Amsterdam2000 update, and letters from visitors.

Lana gives the kids their first look at baby Bo.

Lana gives the kids their first look at baby Bo.

Created by God

We’re glad to announce the birth of our new little baby, Bo Judah Elder.

He was born on June 3rd, at 10:35 p.m., weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 20-3/4 inches long.

Both he and Lana are doing great. You can take a look at some pictures of him atericelder.com/bojudah.

We really appreciate your prayers for the baby and the delivery. Many of you may know that even though this is our fifth child, we’ve had four miscarriages along the way, so we don’t take the gift of life for granted. We also don’t take your prayers for granted. Thank you so much for praying for us and for Bo.

Watching his birth reminded me again of how special each of us are to God. Even though our parents conceived us, the Bible tells us that we were conceived in the mind of God long before that.

God said to Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

King David said that God ordained all of his days before one of them ever came to be:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).

If you ever wonder if you’re really special or not, know that you’re very special to God. He created you in your mother’s womb. He ordained all your days before one of them came to be. He really does love you. And he really does have a purpose for your life.

The Kids’ Ranch

Our church has invited me to be the missionary for this year’s Vacation Bible School, which means I’ll be speaking to about 200 kids each day about what a missionary is and does, and how they can get involved in God’s mission, too.

I’m really excited about it for two reasons. First, I believe several of these kids (1st-6th grade) will go into full-time missions in the future as a result of this week. Second, the kids are going to help me create a website just for kids on the Internet called The Kid’s Ranch. You’ll be able to access it in a few months at kidsranch.org.

I’m going to share with the kids at Bible School that over 1/3 of the world’s kids have never even heard the name of Jesus, nor do they know that He can help them in this life and in the life to come. I’ll then give the kids a chance to tell some stories about Jesus in their own words so kids in other parts of the world can read about His incredible life, death and resurrection.

Please pray with me that the hearts of these kids will be deeply moved and that many of them will dive head first into joining God in his mission to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Letters

We continue to get several thousand visitors a month at The Ranch. Not everyone that visits writes to me (whew!) but those that do are dealing with some very deep and intense issues. By the time they talk to me, they’re on the verge of total despair.

Please pray that God will give me supernatural wisdom as I talk with them. Although I can’t share the contents of these confidential conversations with you, I hope you’ll pray with me that God will use these conversations to really make a difference in people’s lives. James says:

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20).

I can share with you some comments from a 60 year old visitor last week:

I want to thank you for your message I heard today on “The Secret of Happiness.” I have served the Lord since I was 13 and now am 60 yrs. old. However, from time to time I would get discouraged and feel that I must pull back. I now believe I often missed the 3rd aspect…..Looking Forward to the return of Christ. I have always believed in His return since my salvation, but I haven’t put great emphasis on this in my thought life. This is the missing “support leg” for me. Thank you for the freshness of God in your ministry…..it is so good to know you are sending out lifelines to older Christians as well as those who are just coming to know Christ. We NEVER get too old to grow! God Bless You Today. I will keep praying for you and this vital ministry!

A visitor who suffers from panic attacks writes:

I feel that there has been a gap created between what I know to be the truth and what I am able to feel in my heart. I am hoping that by experiencing the support of websites like yours and Russell’s [www.season.org] that I will find the peace of the Lord and His hope and promises. Thank you for being there and if you have an extra moment any additional prayers would really be appreciated.

And a visitor from Montana writes:

Love this site and your music – Thank you so much for sharing yourself in such a great way – Blessings to you!

Amsterdam 2000 Update

In just a few weeks (July 24th-August 7th) I’ll be meeting in Amsterdam with 10,000 other evangelists from around the world at the Billy Graham Amsterdam 2000 Conference. (You can read more about it at www.amsterdam2000.org).

I’ve received nearly all the funds needed to attend the conference, so thank you for your prayers and gifts. Please make a note to pray for me and the other evangelists during the conference that it will bear fruit in thousands of lives for years to come. I look forward to giving you an incredible report in the next newsletter.

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for loving us and creating each one of us for a special purpose,
  • for the safe and healthy birth of Bo Judah,
  • and for the funding and prayers to continue this ministry.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for the kids at Vacation Bible School to give their hearts to Christ and become involved in Your mission,
  • for wisdom to speak life-changing words to those who come to The Ranch for help,
  • for the upcoming Amsterdam 2000 conference to bear much fruit in the years to come,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Stock Transfers?

Some people have wondered if we’re setup to receive stock transfers into our ministry account. The answer is “Yes!” Your gift can be substantially higher, as well as your tax deduction, if you donate stock directly rather than selling the stock first and then donating the proceeds to the ministry. Just contact us for details on how to increase the value of your gift via stock transfer.

Please note that donations can now be made to our ministry online. It takes less than a minute to complete the transaction and would bless us tremendously.

Donations may also be sent by check to: Eric Elder Ministries, 1305 E. Broadway, Streator, IL 61364. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – April 2000

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

A Taste of Heaven, a New CD called “Be Thou Exalted,” and being 100% sure you’re going to heaven.

Jesus said, "In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2)

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

A Taste of Heaven

I got an e-mail from a man from Bulgaria a few weeks ago. He had read my testimony on the Internet that tells how I went from being 90% sure that I was going to heaven to being 100% sure, and the dramatic difference it made in my life.

He wrote to say that he was in the same situation – that he was probably only “about 90% sure.”

I shared with him some verses from the Bible that give us assurance that heaven is real and the fact that God wants us to know whether we’ll be there or not. After receiving my e-mail he wrote:

“You have no idea how happy I was when I received your e-mail back. It brought me so much joy and encouragement. I’ve been even crying while reading and thinking. God became much more real and doubts that I had just disappeared. For many years, I believed a lie, that I was rejected for what I had done. But now I can say ‘Lord, I’m 100% sure I’m saved and I have eternal life.’”

I know it’s easy for any of us to wonder if heaven really exists at all. The question becomes all the more real whenever we attend a funeral or face the possibility of death ourselves.

Heaven is a very real place. And God really does want us to know if we’ll be there or not.

The apostle John said this: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

God wants us to KNOW that we have eternal life and he tells us how we can have it. Simply put, where we spend eternity depends upon whether or not we believe in Jesus Christ.

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

A prison guard asked the apostle Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31).

In fact, the Bible says that this is the only way we’ll be saved. Without faith in Christ, we don’t have a chance. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

And the apostle Paul says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

If you have doubts about where you’ll spend eternity, read these verses again. Read the whole Bible again, for that matter! Then put your faith in Christ anew and let Him fill you with the peace that passes understanding.

If you’d like to know more about this topic, you can watch one of our recent Internet broadcasts where my special guest, Bill Allison, spoke on: “How to Know for Sure that You’re Going to Heaven.” You can read the notes or watch it here.

New CD!!

Speaking of heaven, I recently wrote the words for a new song called “Bring Us to Heaven.” It’s the opening song on a new worship CD that’s just come out called “Be Thou Exalted.”

The song itself is incredibly orchestrated by Chuck Giacinto with the talents of almost 50 people. Just listening to it gives me a taste of heaven right here on earth.

We’re making the CD’s available through our ministry to help put some great music in your hands that will draw you closer to God. If you’d like to listen to some samples from all of the songs on the CD, go to www.ericelder.com/music/heaven.

Amsterdam 2000 Update

Many of you know that I’ve been invited to attend Billy Graham’s Amsterdam 2000 conference in July. The 10-day conference will bring together up to 10,000 evangelists from around the world.

The more I read, hear and see about this conference, the more excited I get about what God will do with such a gathering. As Billy Graham is now in his 80’s, this conference will serve to help pass the torch of evangelism to a new generation.

I’ve received almost $900 so far and a stand-by ticket to get to and from Amsterdam. I still need to raise another $800 between now and July to cover the rest of the conference costs. If you’d like to sponsor me for this event, please indicate your interest on the response form.

You can also watch a moving and meaningful video about the conference called “You Decide” at www.amsterdam2000.org.

Finding The Ranch

Last year an average of 1,500 people visited The Ranch website every month. Over the last few months, that number has grown to over 5,000 visitors during the month of March alone! (You can see detailed statistics here.)

Monthly Visitors to The Ranch

They’ve come from 83 different countries…most recently from Macedonia, Fiji, Iran and Papa New Guinea. I have to check my atlas to see where they’re coming from!

A man from Holland has begun translating my Internet workshops into Dutch for use by Christians in his country, and a man from Slovakia has just finished translating my testimony into Slovak. Praise God that He is using this technology to spread the great news about Christ to all nations.

I also got a great boost in visitors to my site from people like Russell Pond and Andrew Careaga who included information about my site in their own e-mail newsletters. One of the largest Christian newsletters, called Internet for Christians, highlighted my Internet training website (www.ericelder.com/training) in their recent mailout to 27,000 people!

At the end of each of my newsletters I ask you to pray to God for “people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.” It looks like God is answering your prayers!

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for sending Your Word throughout the world by all means possible,
  • for the promise that we will be with you in heaven for all eternity,
  • for the provision You’ve sent to help us proclaim Your great news to all creation.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for the wisdom and funding to continue this work as fully as possible,
  • for special grace on Lana who will give birth to our new baby in about 4 weeks!
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Please note that donations can now be made to our ministry online. It takes less than a minute to complete the transaction and would bless us tremendously.

Donations may also be sent by check to: Eric Elder Ministries, 1305 E. Broadway, Streator, IL 61364. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Remember, for a donation of $17 or more, we’ll be glad to send you a copy of the new worship CD, Be Thou Exalted!

News From The Ranch – February 2000

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Internet Workshops online, a new song “My Sanctuary,” and quotes from people whose burdens have lifted.

Over 200 pastors, teachers and church workers came to our workshops at a recent conference to learn how they could use the Internet to reach out to the lost and hurting.

Over 200 pastors, teachers and church workers came to our workshops at a recent conference to learn how they could use the Internet to reach out to the lost and hurting.

Learning about the Internet

If you’ve wanted to learn more about the Internet, you might be interested in some workshops I’ve recently developed to help Christians grow in their spiritual walks, as well as to give them more tools to reach out to others.

I presented these workshops last weekend at Equip 2000, a conference in central Illinois for pastors, teachers and church workers. I’ve also created an online, interactive version of each workshop to make them available to as many people as possible over the Internet. Here’s a synopsis of the workshops:

Getting the Most out of the Internet

Learn how to find information online to help you prepare Bible Studies, Sunday School lessons, sermons, etc. plus learn how to get better results from Internet “search engines.”

Your Church on the Internet?

This interactive technology demonstration will spark your thinking about how you might use audio, video, email, chat rooms and more to enhance and expand your current ministry.

Using the Internet Safely

Learn some of the dangers of using the Internet and how to protect yourself and your family while using it. This session will discuss filters, “cookies,” history files and more.

You can find these workshops at www.ericelder.com, a new site I’ve created for this type of material. Each workshop takes about an hour if you do all the exercises, but you can skim through the text and get the highlights in about 5-10 minutes. I’d also be glad to present these workshops at your church or other special event. Just let me know!

Worship at a “Real” Ranch

My good friend Brent invited me to attend a retreat last week at a “real” ranch in Texas. I say “real” because some people visit my website The Ranch and then ask if they can come stay for awhile, not realizing it only exists in cyberspace. So it was good to spend a few days in the hill country of Texas!

One of the highlights for me was to lead a time of worship for the 30 or so who had gathered for the retreat. Over half of the group were worship leaders in their own ministries. Luckily, I didn’t know that until it was too late to get “real” nervous about it. But with all those great worshippers, it turned out to be a very moving time for all of us.

I was also glad to share a new song at the retreat that I wrote called “My Sanctuary.” It’s a song that really helps me to quiet my heart before the Lord. You can listen to the piano version at www.ericelder.com/music/sanctuary.

On a related note, I’ve just put my CD of piano music, Clear My Mind, on a secular music website called MP3.com. My hope is that this will expose more people to music that helps them focus on God.

(Just a note: our ministry receives a donation every time someone listens to one of my songs on their website, so if you want to try it out, go to www.mp3.com/ericelder. You can also buy the CD from their website, but our ministry only gets 50% of the proceeds, whereas if you order it from theranch.org, we receive 100%!)

Prayer and Confession

A man came to our chat room recently to say he wanted to deal with a sin in his life, but he didn’t know how. He told me he’d never told anyone in his life about this sin.

I told him I was glad he had come to talk and pray about it, for prayer and confession is one of the best ways to break the power of sin. The Bible says,

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

I’ve seen this happen countless times, but it still amazes me each time I watch God use prayer and confession to bring peace back to someone’s life.

After talking at length with this man about his situation, he said,

“I am asking God to really give me the strength to overcome this. When I read your story and your prayer [on the website] I got tears in my eyes. I needed to confess all this, and as I said, Eric, I don’t know you but I have to let it go one day and TODAY IS MY DAY.”

He poured out his heart, confessing things he’d done and thought about over the past several years. When he finished, we prayed together and his whole demeanor began to change. He said,

“I feel great Eric, it is a relief that I could confess this to you. I have been holding this back for so long and I am glad that I could do this today. I don’t know how I could thank you for your time and prayer Eric. Thank you so much. I am really glad that you took your time to listen to me and I hope that the ministry that you have started here may blossom and that many more souls my be saved.”

He’s still got a road ahead of him because there are always consequences for sin, but the burden he’ll be carrying is a lot lighter now!

Another man from overseas wrote about some battles going on in his mind. I sent him a long reply with some biblical wisdom about his situation. A few hours later we caught up with each other online and he wrote,

“I was just about to send you a BIG thank you note. I feel so much better right now. Thank you so much for being here for me!”

Another man who lives nearby came to our house to ask for prayer. As he confessed his sins and asked the Holy Spirit to come in and help him be the man he wanted to be, he said,

“What is happening to me?!? I feel so much lighter. It’s like a burden has lifted from me. I’ve never felt like this before. I have waited for this for years.”

He walked out of the house laughing at the new joy he now felt and said,

“I sure wasn’t laughing when I came in.”

He later told me he went to church three times that next Sunday at three different churches because he was so excited and couldn’t get enough of God. Hallelujah!

Amsterdam 2000 Update

In the last newsletter, I wrote that I had been invited to attend Billy Graham’s conference for evangelists in Amsterdam in July of this year, but that I needed to raise $2,200 between now and July in order to attend. I’m glad to report that I’ve received $800 so far towards the cost of this conference and have begun making plans to attend. Thanks so much to those who have encouraged me by their gifts to attend. If you, your church, or Sunday School class would still like to sponsor me to attend this event, please let me know. And if anyone has enough frequent flyer miles that they could donate a ticket from Chicago to Amsterdam, that would further reduce the cost. For more information about the conference, visit www.amsterdam2000.org.

Please Pray With Us

Thanks to all of you who take the time to pray for us. Lana’s doing great in her pregnancy; the best one so far, she says. The June 4th due date is quickly approaching! We also received some generous year-end gifts that have helped us into the new year. We’d still love to have more people join us by giving one-time or monthly gifts to help us reach our support goal.

Please join us in praying:

Thank you Lord,

  • for those who have come to The Ranch and been set free from their sin by the power of Christ,
  • for the opportunities to train others to use the Internet to advance Your kingdom,
  • for the continuing provision to continue this work.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for more opportunities to train others in Internet ministry,
  • for the remaining funds for the Amsterdam 2000 conference,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please note that donations can now be made to our ministry online. It takes less than a minute to complete the transaction and would bless us tremendously.

Donations may also be sent by check to: Eric Elder Ministries, 1305 E. Broadway, Streator, IL 61364. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Eric Elder Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

News From The Ranch – October 1999

News From The Ranch

Helping other ministries get on the Internet. Also includes the “Only One Move” story.

A few of the people we’ve recently helped get on the Internet: an Indian evangelist (top), a missionary to the 10/40 Window (right), and a man whose passion is to remind us to pray (left).

A few of the people we’ve recently helped get on the Internet: an Indian evangelist (top), a missionary to the 10/40 Window (right), and a man whose passion is to remind us to pray (left).

Helping Others Reach Out

One of the goals of our ministry is to use our knowledge of the Internet to help other ministries reach out over the Internet, too.

Most recently we had the chance to work with an evangelist from India. When he shared his powerful testimony with me, I asked him if we could tape it for broadcast over the Internet. He was not only glad to do it, but felt that this was an answer to prayer.

Although he preaches to thousands of people in villages throughout India, he seldom gets to preach to the higher caste Hindus. But because many of those in the higher castes have computers and access to the Internet, he may now be able to reach into their homes as well! Praise God for these new opportunities to reach people who might have never heard the gospel of Christ otherwise!

We recorded his story in both English and in Tamil, his native language, and put it on The Ranch website (Paul’s Story). He tells of how he had lost both of his parents at a young age, causing his entire family to consider suicide. During that crucial family discussion, a missionary came into their house and told them about the God who would never leave them nor forsake them. He concludes his testimony by saying: “Now, if you go to my village you will find not a single non-Christian in that whole village. All my people are blessed now. God changed the entire life of my whole people. They are enjoying the provisions of God and the blessings of the Almighty God. He still lives.”

Please pray with us, even right now, that God will use his testimony on the Internet to reach his people throughout the world.

WWW.101SITES.COM

As we get more involved in helping other ministries get online, we’ve created a new organization to focus on this aspect of our outreach.

It’s called Internet Media Resources and its primary purpose is to multiply what we do on the Internet a hundredfold by getting more ministries online, (hence the name of our new site, www.101sites.com).

This new outreach is fully supported by those who make use of the service. From time to time I hope to highlight some of these ministries here because I believe they will move you towards a deeper level of faith in Christ and a stronger commitment to action.

One of these websites is called Window of Opportunity (www.1040window.org) and is designed to educate Christians about the 10/40 Window. This area of the world contains the largest concentration of people who have never heard about Christ. Our desire is to motivate Christians to get involved in reaching out to these “unreached” people groups.

Another website is called Remember to Pray (www.101sites.com/prayer) and focuses on the ministry of an 81-year old man whose desire is to help us all do just that: “Remember to Pray.”

I hope you’ll get a chance to look at some of these websites on the Internet and encourage your friends to visit them as well.

E-Mail

Back at The Ranch we continue to receive letters that encourage us that God is at work. Here are some recent letters.

One man writes:

“I again would like to thank you for spending time with me yesterday… Many of your words are still ringing in my ears, and a difference was made. For the first time in several months, I actually got some sleep last night (just a few hours), but far more than I have been getting historically… With much of what you said bouncing around in my brain and proving much louder than everything else going on in there, I pretty much just passed out and for the first time in a very long time slept through the night (all 5 hours of it). That is really nothing short of a miracle…

“Secondly, and more importantly, I woke up with something that I have not known in at least two years and that is a sense of some peace. Can’t explain it really, but it’s somewhere between understanding on some level that I will be ok and actually having some value in life again.”

Another man who watches our broadcasts wrote:

“You have been there for me and you don’t even know me. …Thanks for all you do, not just for me, but for everyone that you encounter. I don’t want to leave Lana out. I have felt your prayers and maybe one day I will see you both in person to tell you how much I appreciate your ministry.”

And another writes:

“Just wanted to let you know that I have not as much as looked at any porn sites or inappropriate chat lines since Aug 24th [after we prayed online about this]…God is Good…God bless you in your ministry.”

I hope these letters encourage you, too, for without your prayers and support they would not be possible.

Only One Move

And here’s a story for those of you who need some encouragement in your own faith.

There was a 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.

The boy learned quickly. But after three months, he had learned only one move. He asked his teacher to teach him more moves. The teacher said, “This is the only move you’ll ever need to know.”

Soon thereafter, the boy entered a tournament where he quickly advanced to the finals. His next opponent was bigger and more experienced. The boy seemed outmatched.

During the long match, and just when the boy was taking a beating, he made his one move. His opponent faltered and the boy pinned him to the ground.

After the match, the boy asked his teacher. “How could I win with only one move?”

“Two reasons,” the teacher replied. “First, you have mastered one of the most difficult moves in all of judo. And second, the only known defense against that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”

Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your greatest strength.

If your weaknesses are getting you down, remember these words from the Bible:

“The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord:

  • for turning our weaknesses into strengths,
  • for using the Internet to reach out to people around the world with the love of Christ,
  • and for the prayers and support of those who make this ministry possible.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for these new Internet ministries to have long-lasting impact,
  • for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know how to respond to those who write for help,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.