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.

News From The Ranch – August 1999

News From The Ranch

Celebrating one year of Internet broadcasts, plus emails from guests. Also includes the “Keep Your Fork” story.

Pastor John Evans from Wales joins me on "Live From The Ranch," our weekly Internet broadcast.

Pastor John Evans from Wales joins me on “Live From The Ranch,” our weekly Internet broadcast.

One Year of Broadcasts

We had some special guests at our house last weekend who came all the way from Wales!

Pastor John Evans and his wife Jennifer began watching our Internet broadcasts earlier in the year from their home in Wales. We’ve corresponded via the Internet ever since. They happened to be traveling in the U.S. for a few weeks, so they spent the weekend with us here at The Ranch. (I was sure to remind them that The Ranch only exists on the Internet and not to expect their own cabin in the woods when they got here!)

We had a great weekend and they joined me on the live broadcast on Sunday night. It underscored to me that even though our ministry is based on the Internet, it has a very “real life” component with “real life” people. The Internet is often simply the first point of contact.

In just a few weeks we’ll have completed our first full year of broadcasting a live weekly message over the Internet. We’ve had several guests on the broadcast this past year and hope to include more in the future. The topics range from sex to betrayal, from healing to faith. And every week, we also give an opportunity for people to put their faith in Christ.

If you’d like to see any of the messages, just click here.

E-Mails

Each week after the broadcast, we open the chat room at The Ranch to people who want to talk or pray in a one-on-one setting.

This past week a man came by the chat room who had been participating in illicit chat and porn sites on the Internet. We talked and prayed and he wrote back the next day: “I thank God for you and the fact that you took the time to talk and pray for me last night! I slept well last night and know that the Lord is going to deliver me from this abomination that I have participated in.”

Another man, who had been struggling with homosexuality, came to us several months ago for prayer and wisdom. He wrote this week and said, “I feel as though I am living a different life now. I can’t tell you the relief I feel. My burden has been lifted!”

Still another man wrote this week after reading one of the testimonies on our site: “I have felt that I had no one to talk to. I accidentally ran across this site and begin to explore. Tears have welled up in my eyes and I now feel that I have hope. I always tried to think that I wasn’t the only one who was going through this, but now I know I’m not, and I now feel that I have the strength to try even harder. Thank you again.”

Although he thought he found the site “accidentally,” I attribute it to your faithful prayers that God would draw people to The Ranch so they can find their way back to Christ. So thank you so much for I know that this fruit will be credited to your account also! (Philippians 4:17).

We’ve recently added several new testimonies to the site, so if you haven’t visited lately, take a look at the section called Read a Story. You’ll find touching stories from people around the world who have written to tell how Christ has changed their lives. Also, if you have a story you want to share about how Christ has changed your life, just send it to me on the contact form.

Opportunities to Speak

I like preaching on the Internet, but there’s nothing like talking to people face to face! I’ve been receiving more invitations lately to preach at churches and special events here in town and in the surrounding area.

I’m especially thankful for the variety of churches that have asked me to speak, as I feel God has given me a message that applies to people of all backgrounds.

Some of these include:

  • First Baptist Church
  • Primitive Methodist Church
  • Park Presbyterian Church
  • Open Bible Fellowship
  • First United Methodist Men’s Group
  • Community-Wide Good Friday Service
  • First United Family Camp (Gridley, IL)
  • First Presbyterian Church (Chenoa, IL)

If you ever need a guest speaker for a church service, retreat, or other event, let me know! I’d love to come be with you in person to encourage you that God is real, alive, and active in the world today.

The Best is yet to Come

Before I close, I wanted to share with you a story that reminds us all that there’s more to life than just this life.

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given 3 months to live. As she was getting her things “in order,” she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order. The pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

“There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.

“What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply.

She said, “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.

The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes from the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming…like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. So, when people see me in there in that casket with a fork in my hand, and they wonder what it’s for, I want you to tell them, “Keep your fork…the best is yet to come!”

Our faith in Christ can certainly help us here on earth, but ultimately, our faith in Christ is for much more than that. As the apostle Paul said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

The simple gospel (good news) is that God has given us hope for a future. Jesus died for our sins so that those who believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

If you’ve already put your faith in Christ, remember, “the best is yet to come.” And if you’ve never put your faith in Christ, there’s not a better day to do it than today. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).

Please Pray with Us

Several of you sent us notes after the last newsletter to say that you would commit to pray for us for 30 days. Thank you for that commitment, and thanks, too, for those who sent in additional gifts to help us out financially. We appreciate you standing with us.

Thank you Lord,

  • for creating a way, via the Internet, to reach out with your love to people around the world;
  • for the opportunities to speak to people face to face;
  • and for raising up more people to pray for and support this ministry.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for more opportunities to speak to as many people as we can;
  • to raise up still more people to support us in this effort;
  • and for still more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

News From The Ranch – June 1999

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Read how God is using the Internet to touch people around the world.  Also includes the Starfish story.

The Bigger Picture

I was recently encouraged when I attended the first Internet Evangelism Conference sponsored by the Billy Graham Institute for Evangelism. (I’d recommend you watch Ron Hutchcraft’s speech at http://www.webevangelism.org, under “Post-Conference Info.”)

People from almost two hundred different ministries gathered to share with each other how God is using the Internet to touch people around the world. As I listened to each testimony, the stories of what God was doing sounded remarkably similar to the ones we’ve experienced on our own web site. I caught a glimpse of the bigger picture of how God is using this technology in His overall plan.

When Jesus first said to the disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15), they must have thought it was impossible. And yet what seemed impossible then is now entirely possible.

This year, over 100 million people are connected to the global Internet. With the push of a button, we can send a message to every country in the world within 1 second – all for the price of a local phone call.

The Internet has taken off faster than any other communication technology to date. It took only 6 years for 30% of the households in the U.S. to get connected to the World Wide Web. (It took 39 years for 30% of homes to hook up a telephone; 27 years for that many TV’s; and 16 years for that many computers.)

Email now makes up over 94.5% of all mail messages delivered in the U.S., compared to 5.5% that are delivered by “regular mail.” (According to the U.S. Postal Service, they delivered 198 billion pieces of regular mail last year, compared to 3.4 trillion handled by email.)

With so many people connected to the Internet, it begs the question: For what will it ultimately be used? Is it merely a tool to increase corporate profits, spread pornography, and distribute mass media? Or, is it possible that God is going to use this remarkable tool in an unprecedented way to express the love of Christ to a hurting world? Such thinking may sound idealistic, but God has done it before.

The Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed on the newly invented printing press in 1452. When people speak of the Gutenberg Bible, they link the invention itself with the spread of God’s Word all in the same breath. To this day, the Bible continues to be the most widely published book in the world.

With the Internet still in its formative years, it is not hard to imagine that God will also link this new technology with the spread of His Word. Why would we think that? Two reasons: 1) We have the most powerful delivery system ever known to man, and 2) we have the most powerful message ever delivered. That’s a combination for miracles!

God is on a mission for God. And He will use whatever means He can to reach as many as He can before the end comes. I’m thankful to live in such an age.

The Starfish

Having glimpsed into God’s cosmic plan at this conference, I came back to my computer with renewed vigor to continue to do what God has called me to do. I was getting excited to see that our web site is now visited over 1,500 times a month from people who want to hear more about the works of God. Then I saw another statistic. I saw that the Playboy site gets 5 million hits a day.

It made me feel a bit like a character in the book The Star Thrower by Loren Eisley. It goes like something like this.

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.

As he got closer he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”

“I guess I should have asked, ‘Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?’”

“The sun is up, and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

We’re Not Alone

I know there are a lot of starfish out there, but thankfully we’re not alone in this task.

God is raising up workers to go into the harvest fields. He is raising up givers to send others into the fields. He is raising up pray-ers to pray for the harvesters (see Luke 10:2).

You may receive many letters asking for funds from worthy Christian organizations. I believe that’s because there is a huge task ahead of us and God wants all of us to be involved to the fullest extent possible.

Let me share about some of the starfish that are out there. A 17-year old man from the West Coast wrote me last week. He said he had recently given his life to the Lord, but now saw that God wanted him to give up his addiction to pornography and homosexuality. He didn’t know how he could do it, so he wrote for help. We talked in our Internet chat room until 1:00 a.m. He left knowing that God is in the life-changing business and He can change this part of his life, too!

A 48-year old man from the East Coast who found my site called yesterday to say he has gone into adultery and can’t find his way out. He’s battling thoughts of suicide and is about to give up on the Lord. We talked and prayed until he had hope that Jesus came to give us an abundant life, and that He forgave us of our sins so that we could be free!

I know there’s not one of you reading this who wouldn’t want to reach out to these people yourselves if they came to your door, to save them from death and destruction and to put them back on the path of life. But to do that, they’ve got to be able to find our door. God has called me to put my door on the Internet, and He is bringing people to it who would have never found it otherwise.

I’m glad to be on the front lines helping these people. But the troops at the front can’t last long without the troops in the back, to cover them from the enemy and to send more supplies. Many of you have helped us greatly to get this far. Let me say plainly: we need your help now more than ever. If you can commit to pray for us for the next 30 days, would you let us know? If you can send us an extra gift, or commit to a monthly gift if you haven’t already, would you do it soon? God is on a mission from God and He’s got a role for every one of us to play.

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for letting us all take part in your great mission;
  • for bringing the harvest that is so evident before us;
  • and for bringing people right to our door.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for you to raise up more workers, more pray-ers, and more senders;
  • for the full provisions needed to go forward;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

News From The Ranch – April 1999

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

About our new CD and Devotional: Clear My Mind and Two Weeks With God.

A new CD, Clear My Mind

A new CD, Clear My Mind

God’s Gift of Music

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is one that we can’t touch or see, but one that we can definitely feel. It’s the gift of music.

Scientists can explain how music is produced, how sound waves vibrate and travel through the air, allowing the small bones in our ears to pick up the sound.

But only God can explain how music somehow goes straight to our hearts, touching our emotions, causing us to want to dance, or shout, or cry. That’s why I think it’s such a gift from God. And one I often take for granted.

But over the past few years, God has been showing me how He touches people through music.

A powerful example from the Bible comes from the life of King Saul who was tormented by an evil spirit. But whenever a young boy named David took out his harp to play, the evil spirit fled and relief came to the king (First Samuel 16:23).

Music is mentioned throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. It is often used as a way for people to express their hearts to God, and for God to express His heart to people. Music is so central to religious life that right in the middle of the Bible are the Psalms – 150 songs written by people like David and Solomon and Moses, each pouring out their hearts to God through music.

Clearing Your Mind

A few years ago I began to write my own music on the piano, expressing to God what I felt in my heart. As I did, I experienced what David must have felt when he played the harp. The sounds really soothed my soul. They healed my heart. They cleared my mind.

And I found that when I played this music for others, it had a similar effect on them. God has been showing me that He gives us gifts not only for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of others.

So with the encouragement and support of a number of friends, I’ve recently finished a CD of instrumental piano music called Clear My Mind.

I’ve put the songs on our web site for people who need to clear their minds so they can hear from God. I’ve already been encouraged to hear from people who say that God is touching them through the music.

A man struggling with depression said,

“The CD has become a great means of soothing my soul.”

A woman who had just been through a personal trauma said,

“God was speaking to me through the music” (even though it’s only instrumental!)

And one of my good friends, in a touching burst of honesty said,

“Actually, I didn’t think I’d like the music; but I like it so much, if I heard it in a store, I’d buy it!”

A New Devotional

To go with the CD, I’ve written a fourteen-day devotional based on the songs. It’s called Two Weeks with God.

I believe the devotional will encourage people to get closer to God, whether they’ve been Christians for years or whether they’re just starting to explore their faith. And for the non-Christian, I’ve included a very clear explanation of the gospel along with an invitation to put their faith in Christ.

This project has allowed me to use the three main gifts that God has given me for this ministry – to preach, to pray and to play the piano. I’m excited that we are able to package it in a non-threatening way that will make it accessible to many people.

If you’d be interested in getting a copy of the music and devotional for yourself or your friends, just drop us a note on the enclosed reply form. This is also a great way to help us with our ministry so we can share the message of Christ with more people.

Answered Prayers

Thanks, too, for praying for us that our message and ministry could be brought to people who need to hear from God. I’ve had a chance to speak at several events the past few months – most recently at the community-wide Good Friday service here in Streator. At the end of the service, a number of people made decisions for Christ for the first time in their lives. And still more were visibly moved to tears as the Holy Spirit touched them during the service.

I was especially encouraged as I was preaching when I saw in the audience a woman who had put her faith in Christ several months ago at another event where I spoke. And now, not only she, but also her whole family is attending church together for the first time in years. As I saw her I was thankful that God does indeed cause the seeds we plant to grow.

On the Internet, I continue to be amazed at how God uses this technology to reach out to people around the world.

Just last night I prayed for a man from Japan who had struggled privately with a sin for many years. As he confessed it to me and we prayed for God’s forgiveness, he said,

“Thank you Eric for that touching prayer. I really felt God’s power. I really felt His love. Thank you for this historic day. It has really helped me and touched my heart.”

A pastor from the East Coast has written several times about some of his personal struggles. One day I called him on the phone to see how he was doing. Later, he wrote and said,

“Thank you so much for the call. Little did you know that I was in a downward spin and my thoughts were heading for a bottle of sleeping pills. The timing was perfect. If you had not called I do not know what I might have done.”

I’m fully aware of some of the evils of the Internet, but I’m thankful that God has been using it so powerfully to reach out to people who need His touch in their lives.

In fact, later this month, I will be attending a three-day conference called the 1999 Internet Evangelism Conference, sponsored by Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Institute for Evangelism. They expect 400-500 people to attend who either minister or want to minister on the Internet. I look forward to meeting with others who have a similar vision to use this technology to reach people around the world with the message of Christ.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for redeeming all things for Your glory,
  • for changing people’s lives through the power of Your Spirit,
  • and for letting us use our gifts to minister to others.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for this CD and devotional to get into the hands of people who need Your touch,
  • for more opportunities to present Your life-changing, life-saving power to others,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

News From The Ranch – February 1999

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Letters from visitors to The Ranch.

Letters to The Ranch

From My Heart

Every week I receive letters from people who struggle with some aspect of their faith.

We exchange emails about some very personal subjects, often about things that they have never shared with anyone else.

As I pray for them and share God’s promises from the Bible, I get to watch their thoughts and hearts transform before my eyes.

Because of your prayers and support for our ministry, I wanted to give you a small sampling of the 150 or so letters I’ve received in the past six months. Because of the confidential nature of the letters, I have taken care not to include too many details that might reveal the writer’s identity, but enough to show the transforming power of God. I hope these touch your heart like they’ve touched mine.

Letters

A man from Canada wrote and asked for urgent prayer because of a difficult time he was going through in his life. I called him on the phone and we talked and prayed for about an hour. He was so filled with the peace of God by the end of our conversation that he was quite overcome by the unusual sensation. He wrote a week later to say,

“Thank you again for calling me the other day. It has been best week of my life in over two years since my separation. I have never felt such a peace of mind. Also I have been sober from adultery. What a wonderful feeling of God’s Holy Spirit. Thanks.”

A man from South Africa wrote after watching one of my Internet broadcasts called, “Having Trouble Believing?” He said,

“I would like to thank you for being obedient to our Lord and Saviour in having such a powerful message on such a versatile and accessible medium as the Internet. Your message has come at such a crucial time for me. I now know that God will reveal all He has planned for me in His Time. I feel that I need to study my Bible more and pray much more than I currently do. God bless you and the important role you play in encouraging others to either get to know God or to renew and strengthen their walk with God.

“Your site has an appeal that I think transcends many barriers people associate with some traditional Christian sites. The appeal of your site for me is that you speak to the whole person and at the same time place God in perspective in a non-threatening way. I’ll be sharing your web address with fellow Christians every opportunity I get.”

A woman from here in the States wrote to me after spending some time on “the trails” at The Ranch. These are virtual trails I’ve set up so people can take time to read scriptures about specific topics and let God speak to their hearts. Afterwards, she wrote,

“I just wanted to write you and let you know how much I enjoy the trails at The Ranch. I met Jesus ten years ago, but struggled all ten years because of the way I grew up – much abuse in every way. I don’t know why I never fully trusted Christ before, but the other night I was surfing around and came to the trails. I first wanted to write you and your wife for help, or explain what a failure of a Christian I was, but GOD stopped me and said, “Talk to me.” I did. I poured my heart out to him instead of to another human person who could only point me to him. I have been set free from fear and much more. Thank you for the trails. I know God used it to do what has occurred. Thank you. Free in him…”

A woman from Canada, with whom I’ve corresponded for some time regarding spiritual matters, wrote:

“Eric, I want to get to know Christ even better. I am not sure how to go about doing this, but I’m trying. Before I sign off, I wanted to let you know that only recently did I discover your other website “The Ranch.” What I appreciate about the site is that I feel that the messages are truly shared with me! Please keep up the good work because your ministry certainly helped open my eyes even wider to God’s message.”

Another man from here in the States asked if I would be his accountability partner regarding a specific sin in his life. For three months I wrote to him each week to check on his progress. By the end of three months he wrote,

“I wanted to thank you for all of the help that you have given me this year. 1998 has been a year of tremendous struggle and phenomenal growth for me spiritually. I feel that I have learned what the concept of “freedom in Christ” means to its fullest extent. I thank God for putting you on my path in order to help me out. I pray that you and your ministry will continue to grow and prosper: ‘Father God, thank you for Eric and his Internet ministry. Thank you because through Eric, You are there when I most need You. Please continue to bless Eric and his family so that they may continue the all-important task of bringing your Word to the people who most need it. Thank you Father in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.’”

A few weeks ago I received a brief note titled, “Help!” After exchanging a few notes of introduction, the man confessed to me something he’s never told anyone in his life:

“Wow, this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve told God, who is probably the most important one to tell, but you are the first person ever. Pressing the send button is going to be a big step!!”

After we exchanged several more prayers and words of encouragement he wrote, “I cannot believe how amazing it is how bringing this whole deal out into the open has been. Your e-mail address was sitting on my computer, written on a scrap piece of paper – an old receipt I think – for over three weeks. Pressing that send button was one of the best things I ever did.

“To know you are praying is…well…

I’m not alone in this anymore. Hopefully I won’t be in it all at soon. I suppose what I appreciate from you, Eric, is a friend who can say, ‘I know it’s hard, keep going.’ I feel the strength of yours and Lana’s prayers. Just to know that this issue is being specifically prayed for. Sometimes I don’t know what to pray. That’s when the words that you’ve written in prayer minister to me, as I know that God answers the prayers of his saints asked in the name of His Son. You are helping me no end.”

To balance these gracious comments, I do, on rare occasions, get letters like this one:

“I have just seen your website, and I am truly disgusted by the level of stupidity being peddled here.”

After venting his anger and denouncing Christianity, he signed off with these words:

“A happy, intelligent and well balanced GAY ATHEIST. P.S. – There is NO GOD – trust me, I’m always right.”

We Need You

It’s no understatement to say this wouldn’t be possible without you. Your prayers and support have sustained us and freed us to do this work and see fruit like this every week.

The fact is we still need you! We especially need people who will consider making regular monthly donations to this ministry. Perhaps you would want to mention our work to your church or missions committee to see if they would be interested in supporting this outreach. In addition, we’ve been using a borrowed computer for the main web site and will soon need to purchase our own (about $6,000). If God moves on your heart in one of these ways, please let us know soon.

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for touching people around the world through this technology,
  • for bearing fruit in the lives of those who write for help,
  • and for sustaining this work each month.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for continued support to go forward,
  • for the fruit to increase as this ministry increases,
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

News From The Ranch – December 1998

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

If hindsight gives us 20/20 vision when we look back, what gives us 20/20 vision when we look ahead?

Looking Ahead

Looking Back

I thought I’d share a few statistics with you about this past year.

I’ve answered over 120 questions to apply for non-profit status with the IRS. I’ve rebooted my computer over 285 times after it’s crashed. I’ve watched my Internet connection drop over 780 times without my consent. I’ve called out to God for help over 1825 times in prayer.

But somewhere along the way, a new ministry was born, a new web site was created, and the gospel was preached. In the end, God’s will won out. In the end, if we yield to him, it always does.

I’m sharing this as a reminder to both me and you so we can have hope for the coming year.

Year-end letters and Christmas cards usually point out all the good things that happened during the year.

But I don’t think people leave out the nitty-gritty on purpose. I think it’s just that our sight finally catches up with our faith. We can look back over the year and see what God was doing through it all. And our daily problems that seemed so big tend to fade away when we see the big picture.

People call it hindsight. They say it gives us 20/20 vision. Now if we could capture that, reverse it, and look into the future with 20/20 vision as well, what would that be called?

Faith. “Faith,” according to the Bible, “is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Imagine going into next year with the same 20/20 vision as you have now when you look back at last year. You could write next year’s Christmas card now. You could focus on all the things that God is doing, then watch the day-to-day problems fade away like the morning mist.

Even though we can’t see all the details of the future with 20/20 vision, we can know this with certainty: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

We can look forward to next year with eyes of faith. God’s will WILL be done!

Looking Ahead

As 1998 fades and 1999 arises, I’m praying for God to expand what he’s begun this year.

My guess is that my prayer will be answered like this:

I’ll have to answer over 240 IRS questions, reboot over 570 times, reconnect to the Internet over 1560 times, and call out to God over 3650 times. Now you know why I need your help!

Would you join me in praying that God will expand the fruit of this ministry as well?

I recently read that over 60% of the top 100 key words that people search for on the Internet are related to sex: everything from sodomy to bestiality, (these are some of the more tactful words on the list).

The anonymity of the Internet makes it ideal for pornography, but it also makes it ideal for people to share their real hurts so they can get real help. Please pray with me that this ministry will be a guiding light to bring many out of darkness.

People are already starting to trickle into The Ranch, even though the web site is not quite complete. Through word of mouth and some free advertising around the Internet, we are seeing God answer the prayer we’ve used at the end of every newsletter, “for people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.”

Would you pray with me that this trickle will become a stream in 1999? And the stream a river in 2000?

Year-End Gifts

This would also be a great time to give us a financial boost for the new year. If you plan to make some year-end gifts this month, please consider us in your prayers.

We have been richly blessed as over 40 families have sent almost $40,000 this year to get this ministry off the ground. Almost half of that went towards computer equipment and start-up costs.

Our projected budget for this year was $56,530. In my mind, I thought we’d be doing good to receive $30,000, but in my faith, I prayed for $56,530 to do all that God had put on my heart to do. It looks like God is making up the difference between my mind and my faith!

If you’d like to help us make up the rest of the difference this year, we’d be thrilled! And we’d be able to finish all God has called us to do.

According to our three-year plan, our budget for next year is over twice that amount. (You can review our three-year plan on our web site.) So if God wants to accomplish all that, I’m excited to see how he does it, and through whom he does it.

Bringing Faith to Life

If hindsight helps us look backward with certainty, and faith helps us look forward with certainty, what can we do to face today with certainty?

Here’s the best way I can phrase it: “Stand up!”

I remember as a kid watching a show about the filming of the movie Huckleberry Finn. The actor who played Tom Sawyer said when they filmed a scene out on a lake, the boat accidentally tipped over, throwing him into the water. Not knowing how to swim, he struggled for air and started to scream for help. The people on shore yelled, “Stand up!” He did, then burst out laughing when he realized the water was only waist high.

There are times when our boats tip over and we struggle for air and start to scream. With the water over our heads, God calls out: “Stand up! Stand up in your faith! Have I not called you to do this? Will I not do it? Will I leave you there to drown? I know what it looks like from there, but I know how it ends! I know who wins! Stand up! Stand up in your faith.”

Paul says that when we’ve done all we can, we need to stand. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)

Hindsight is for the past. Faith is for the future. Today, we might just need to “Stand up!”

Please Pray With Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for bringing us through another year,
  • and for letting us take part in your great plan for the world,
  • and for giving us the strength to stand up in our faith.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for the finances to finish this year as you have planned,
  • for this ministry to expand next year,
  • and for people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

News From The Ranch – October 1998

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

The Ranch goes live, a financial update, and “Does God have anything to say about the Internet in the Bible?”

The screen people see on their computers when they watch "Live from The Ranch"

The screen people see on their computers when they watch “Live from The Ranch”

The Ranch Goes Live

You can now watch CNN live on the Internet. And ABC News. And Fox News.

But last month we added another choice to what people can watch on the Internet: “Live from The Ranch,” a weekly program designed to encourage people in their faith.

To me, this is the capstone of our Internet ministry. It is one of the most technologically complex features of our site. But it could also have the greatest impact.

I was thrilled to do our first broadcast. Even though it only went to a handful of people, those handful were over a thousand miles away. Using a simple phone line and a computer, they were able to hear a message of faith in Christ.

When I think of how this can multiply to other people with phone lines and computers around the world, it boggles my mind.

My previous web site, The Hall of Faith, drew over 800 hundred people a month from 72 countries simply to read stories of how God works in people’s lives. I try to imagine what kind of impact a live broadcast might have.

And the momentum for sharing Christ on the Internet is growing.

Our ministry was highlighted this month in a nationwide magazine called Ministries Today, along with some other ministries who are “taking the gospel to the web.” Our work was also discussed in a book called The Online Christian, which has a chapter on Internet evangelism.

Although we’re considered pioneers in this technology, we’re not alone.

Billy Graham, for instance, will mark another first for his ministry on October 24th when he broadcasts his Florida crusade live on the Internet. In a recent sermon, Mr. Graham said: “It is amazing how technology is being used to hurt the world. But it is also being used to spread the gospel on a scale that has never happened in the history of the Christian church.”

The pope, too, just began broadcasting his weekly prayers from the Vatican live on the Internet using the same technology.

Many have wondered if these kinds of events signal the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Whether he comes now or waits longer, it’s clear to me that God is using every available means to save as many people as possible before the end comes. For those who don’t yet know him, that’s great news.

You can watch our live broadcasts at www.theranch.org. We broadcast live on Sunday nights at 9pm Central Time. After the broadcast, you can join us in our chat room at The Ranch. The chat room is where we can talk with people in a more personal way, and pray with those who need additional encouragement in their faith.

If you miss the live broadcast, the messages are stored on our web site for viewing around the clock – and around the world.

Financial Update

Some of you have asked how we’re doing financially, so here’s an update.

Our budget for the ministry this year is $5,300 per month. Since our incorporation in March of this year, we’ve received commitments from people to cover about 20% of our monthly needs.

Thanks to several one-time gifts, we’ve been able to make up most of the 80% difference each month.

God has affirmed to me that he will cover the costs of this ministry, but I know that he often does this by moving on the hearts of his people. So I’m glad to share our needs with you. If you’re not already committed to this effort in prayer or financially, would you take a few minutes to ask the Lord if he wants you to be involved?

As you can see, we still need both one-time gifts and monthly commitments to operate at 100% of what God has called us to do.

Bringing Faith to Life

Does God have anything to say about the Internet in the Bible? I was surprised to find out he does when I was praying recently about this ministry.

I was reading through the book of Job this month and was up to chapter 8. I was having technical difficulties with parts of my web site, and was eager to get to work on them, not sit still and read Job for a few minutes. But I decided to open the Bible and this is what I read:

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.” (Job 8:13-15)

That sure sounded like my web site that day! Fragile, giving way, and not holding! God reminded me that my trust is in Him, not in the “web,” even though he’s called me to an Internet ministry. Some of the problems got fixed that day and some didn’t. But I had confidence that God was in control because he spoke to me using words written over 3,000 years ago.

It didn’t end there. The next Sunday I was guest-preaching at a local church. I had brought my computer equipment to see if we could do a live broadcast from their church.

Half way through the message I began to say, “The technology’s now at a point where we can broadcast live messages on the Internet.” But before I finished the sentence, the phone line disconnected and our broadcast stopped. I saw the screen go down but I kept on preaching. At the end of the service, six people in the room prayed to receive Christ.

I was thrilled at their decisions, but I was also reminded of what I learned earlier in the week. Even when the technology fails, God doesn’t. Even when everything around us falls apart, God won’t. Even when our web gives way, God remains rock solid.

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Hallelujah! Now that’s something we can hold onto.

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for continuing to work even when the technology doesn’t,
  • for getting us to the point where we can broadcast your message live on the Internet,
  • and for sustaining us each month.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for these broadcasts to have a deep and lasting impact on those who watch them,
  • for additional monthly supporters,
  • and for people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

News From The Ranch – August 1998

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Behind-the-scenes at The Ranch, an Internet update, and “Did God really answer that prayer?”

Kirk Albrecht and Eric Elder

Behind the Scenes: Kirk Albrecht and Eric Elder install the main computer for the web site for The Ranch.

From My Heart

I recently felt like George Bailey in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Not the scene where he jumps off the bridge. I mean the scene where he runs home shouting, “Mary!! Kids!!” You know, when ZuZu decorates his head with tinsel from the Christmas tree.

For many months we’ve been praying for computer equipment to design and develop the web site for The Ranch. With the help of some friends, Kirk and Kelly Albrecht, we’ve been able to get up and running on some equipment they loaned us. But we continued to pray for exactly what we needed.

Then two weeks ago another couple called to ask how much we needed for the new equipment. I told them between $6,000 and $10,000. Six thousand would be tight, but ten thousand would let us buy exactly what we needed. They said, “That’s confirming because we feel God wants us to send you a check for $10,000!”

If we’d won $10,000 in the lottery, you can bet we’d be telling everyone we knew about it. How much more so when God sends the check in response to our prayers. The Illinois lottery has a slogan: “You’ve gotta play to win.” But I’ve got a better one: “You’ve gotta pray it in.”

It’s been almost a year that we’ve prayed for this equipment. But with all the changes in technology, I can now buy equipment that is three to four times more powerful than what I could have bought last year – and for less money! I’ve heard it said, “God is seldom early, but He is never late.” As we get ready to launch this new web site, I’d have to say He is right on time.

Behind the Scenes

Many people are curious how our broadcasts will work over the Internet. So here’s a “behind the scenes” description.

If you were to visit me in my home, I’d show you the office I’ve set up to do the broadcast. On my desk is a computer, with a microphone and a video camera attached to it.

When I’m ready to broadcast, I dial a local phone number that connects my computer to the Internet. I turn on the camera and microphone and start sending the signal over the phone line.

If I just wanted to broadcast to one person, this would be the extent of the setup. The other person would simply connect to my computer over the Internet. But if hundreds of people wanted to connect to the broadcast at the same time, I’d need hundreds of phone lines into my house, one for each person.

So instead, we’ve placed another computer directly on a high-speed connection to the Internet. This computer sits at a telephone company in Peoria, Illinois. I dial into the Internet locally, then connect to the computer in Peoria and send the broadcast there. It is instantly rebroadcast to anyone who wants to connect to it. The high-speed phone lines allow hundreds of people to connect at the same time.

So what you see in the picture at the top is a rack of computers in Peoria on this high-speed connection. The computer on the bottom rack at the right is The Ranch! A little dull looking from this angle, but when viewed from the Internet, it becomes a spiritual retreat center complete with the sights and sounds of a virtual ranch.

And more importantly, it becomes a place where people from around the world are able to hear about the incredible love of Christ. Come visit sometime at www.theranch.org.

Bringing Faith to Life

Does prayer really work? God did more for us this month than send us $10,000. He reminded me that prayer has the power to change people’s hearts and lives as well.

I received an email from a man in Ireland with a question that was definitely in the “difficult” category. He had become a Christian through the power of Christ, went to church, and could talk the talk about Jesus. But he went on to say that it just wasn’t in his heart. He felt he was always seeking God, but he felt God never listened to his cries. He ended the note with this line: “Well, you can imagine how I feel, living this loop of dread. Is there help for me?”

Every note I get requires much prayer and thought, but this one took days for me to even know where to start. The simple answer is “Of course there’s help for you.” But how could I convey that to this man who knew the answer in his head, but no longer believed it in his heart?

I began to pray for him. And continued to pray for him. I prayed for him when I mowed the lawn. I prayed for him each time I turned on my computer and saw his note. I couldn’t think of a thing to say to him. I just kept praying for him. Three months went by, and I still wasn’t sure what to say to him.

So I sent him a note to tell him to hang in there, and to let him know I was still praying for him.

When he wrote back, I was stunned. He started with “Well, I’ve come a long way in my walk with Jesus.” He went on to describe the changes in his life in the last three months, told me he was going to be baptized on the next Sunday and ended with this:

“your prayers are being heard by God…thank you as a brother and as a friend.”

I shouldn’t have been stunned, but I was. I hadn’t told him one thing about God – I just prayed. So I asked God, “Did my prayers for him really make a difference?”

God responded, “If you don’t think your prayers made a difference, then you’re in the wrong business!!” Thank you, Lord, for that reminder! Of course the prayers made a difference. God has promised us they would.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

We may not always have the words to say to someone, but we can always pray for them.

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for reminding us that you really do answer prayer,
  • for the computer equipment to share Christ over the Internet,
  • and for stirring more people to support us prayerfully and financially.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for wisdom to bring together the final pieces of The Ranch.
  • for still more people to support us prayerfully and financially,
  • and for people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Don’t forget to take some time out with God today. If you want to be awed by His great power, take a look at Job 38-42. Lord bless you!

News From The Ranch – June 1998

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

A new baby, a speedy delivery, and “Does it matter how we live our lives?”

Josiah Graham Elder and family

Josiah Graham Elder and family

It’s a Boy!!!

We’re thrilled at the birth of our new son, Josiah Graham Elder!

He came quickly, as Lana will tell you in a minute. Our pastor said Lana was like the Hebrew women in the days of Moses who had their children so fast, the midwives couldn’t make it in time for the birth. (Exodus 1:19)

He has dark hair and dark eyes – he’s beautiful. He was born on May 21 at 7:27 p.m. He weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

We named him Josiah Graham after King Josiah in the Bible who served God with his whole heart, and Billy Graham who has lived his life with integrity and led many people to the Lord.

If you don’t remember much about King Josiah, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to read about him. He’s in the book of Second Kings, chapters 22 and 23. He became king at age eight and reigned thirty-one years. At the end of his life the Bible says this about him:

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did — with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength…”

We pray that our Josiah will turn to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength as well.

Here’s Lana’s description of the birth. As you’ll see, she had a very…

Speedy Delivery

Towards the end of my pregnancy, Makari summed up how I was feeling. She kept saying, “I’m starving for the baby to come out!”

We were eating dinner one night and I started having contractions ten minutes apart. I thought we’d better pack up to go to the hospital, but I wasn’t sure. Just then my water broke so I knew we had to hurry.

We drove thirty minutes to the hospital and when we got there, the nurse said the baby was ready to come. Ten minutes later Josiah was born! We didn’t even have time to drop the kids off, so they were still in the room with us when Josiah was born, thrilled to finally see the baby.

I’m still amazed at the miracle of birth. Even though he’s our fourth child, all I can do is just stare at him. I really do appreciate your prayers for us and I’m thrilled to see the results. God is sooo good!

Internet Update

We’re still on target to complete the new web site, The Ranch, in the next few months. We’ve gotten much of the equipment we need to develop the site. We’ve installed the phone lines and will soon install the web server to begin our tests for the live broadcasts. Feel free to drop by over the next few months and help us test it out. The address is simply theranch.org.

On the financial side, we feel like we’re off to a good start, although we’re still very much in start-up mode. Some friends have loaned us some of the equipment we’re using, so we’ll need to purchase our own soon. We’ve also received several one-time gifts, but we still need a broad base of people to commit to support us on a monthly basis.

Billy Graham once had a man offer to underwrite his entire ministry, but he declined. He said he might lose thousands of prayer supporters as well, and without prayer, his ministry would go nowhere. We agree! A response card is enclosed if you would like to be part of this project. Please join us if you can!

Bringing Faith to Life

The Hall of Faith web site continues to generate a steady stream of people who write in for prayer and guidance. A woman from Canada asked a question that I think all of us ask from time to time. She wrote: “I find myself (at times) wondering if it really matters how we live our lives. We are, after all, all sinners whether Christian or not. So does it matter how I live my life?”

I wrote back and shared with her some of the reasons God says it matters, but I sensed there was still something missing from my reply. One night God shared with me the missing piece.

I was at the copy shop late one night working on the paper for The Ranch. I was wearing down, feeling all alone at the back of the store and tired from a long day. The store was about to close and I was discouraged that after all my work, I still wasn’t done.

Then, from behind me, I faintly heard singing: “You’re just too good to be true…”

I turned to look over my shoulder … it was a song on the store’s PA system, but somehow the words were directed at me! “Can’t take my eyes off of you…” I looked again and thought, “God, is that you?!?”

Then, as if in answer to my question, the chorus rang out:

“I LOVE YOU BABY!
And if it’s quite alright I need you baby,
To warm a lonely night,
Don’t ever leave me baby,
Please don’t leave me!”

God was singing to me! I laughed as I listened to Him sing the rest of the song to me, not sure if I could believe it was really Him. But then I remembered a verse in the Bible that says, “the Lord your God will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) He really was singing to me!

Then He spoke to my heart: “Eric, there’s so much junk going on in the world that when I see someone following me and doing what I want them to do, it brings a smile to my face. You may feel like what you do doesn’t make any difference, but it does. You may feel all alone, but you’re not. I’m right here with you. I can’t take my eyes off of you. What you’re doing brings me great joy!”

I don’t always choose to do what God wants me to do. But God showed me that He rejoices whenever any of us make that choice. My attitude changed for the rest of the night. I had a smile on my face. I got a second wind and thought of the verse, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Knowing that He took joy in what I was doing gave me strength to go on.

And I remembered the woman in Canada asking, “Does it matter how I live my life?” You bet it does.

Not only will you be blessed, but it puts a smile on the face of God. The Bible says: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) And just maybe we’ll get to hear him sing to us again, “I LOVE YOU BABY!”

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for loving us and rejoicing over us with singing!
  • for the safe and healthy birth of Josiah Graham,
  • for the funds to start this ministry,

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for the rest of the start-up funds for this ministry,
  • for a broad base of ongoing support,
  • for people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Lord bless you! Have a great day!

News From The Ranch – April 1998

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

A new ministry and a new project, a family picture, and the ways God speaks to us through everyday things.

Eric Elder Family 1998

Eric Elder Family 1998

From My Heart

It feels great to write this letter to you and let you know we have formally established our own ministry, Eric Elder Ministries.

We got word last week from the Secretary of State’s office that the incorporation process was complete. When we got the news we were ready to celebrate! This is an answer to many prayers over the years, many of them your prayers, so we know you’ll celebrate with us! Thanks so much.

We’ve enclosed a brochure which describes the ministry in more detail. The bottom line of the ministry is to share the message of Christ throughout the world using any and all means. Our primary focus for the next few years will be an Internet outreach called The Ranch, hence the name of this newsletter.

We’d like to send you this newsletter from time to time to keep you updated, as well as to encourage you in your own faith. I’ve included a section on the back called Bringing Faith to Life to encourage you that God is alive and active today.

Back Home Again

We moved back to Illinois on March 1st after a year and a half in Dallas. Our time there was fruitful, but it’s always nice to come home again.

We moved to a town called Streator into the house where Lana’s Mom grew up. After several years of renting it out to people, her Mom asked us if we’d like to live there and restore it to its original condition.

It’s been a fun project for me, especially to see it take shape before my eyes. Maybe that’s why Jesus liked carpentry work in addition to ministry.

Lana’s Lament

When I asked Lana to write a section for this newsletter she said, “What would I say? And what would I call it? Lana’s Lament?!?”

With three kids at home, another due in June and taking care of me, I thought it was a good title! So Lana, with that in mind the keyboard’s yours…

There are a lot of times I really do feel like saying, “Woe is me. My house is a mess from the move, I’m tired and I’m getting too large for only being 7 months pregnant. My children will have to make new friends. I haven’t even started to teach my children Spanish as a second language. They’ll never make it to college. ” And I could go on and on.

But the Lord shows me yet again that my focus is way off. I’m so worried about me that I forget to look at all He’s done.

He has taken us through some difficult times. I am so thankful for a house to live in. My prayers for another child have been answered so I don’t really care how large I get. When it all comes down to it, my children will be just fine. God is watching out for them just as He is for me.

The book of Lamentations says,

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

I believe it’s okay to cry out to God in the difficult times. But I don’t get too far before I realize once again how good he is – really good. Then I pray that I will have the strength to wait quietly for his salvation here on earth and in eternity.

Bringing Faith to Life

Billy Graham was asked, “How do you know there’s a God?” He answered, “Because I talked with him this morning.”

Last month God spoke to me as I lived out my own version of the showdown between Elijah and 450 false prophets. Although this talks about how God answers prayer, the best part was that he spoke to me as he answered my prayer…

I had been praying that our house would sell between February 15th and February 28th – a two week window of time — and less than two months away. I knew it was a tough request to fulfill.

But three weeks later, we had a buyer. We closed on February 26th, packed up the truck on the 27th, and pulled out of town on February 28th.

Yet I still wondered if it was God or just a coincidence, so I asked the Lord to confirm to me if this was truly an answer to my prayer. A few days later, I received this letter from a realtor who had seen our “For sale by owner” sign. She wrote:

It’s now been a couple of weeks since you began trying to sell your house by yourself, and for your sake I do hope you will be successful–although the odds are not with you.

I say this because currently in this area there are some 470 full-time real estate professionals who are working 7 days a week to sell homes like yours. Yet even with so many professionals on the job, it is still taking an average of 30-120 days to get a listed home sold. Now, if it takes 470 full-time professionals over 4 months to get a house sold, how long will it take you — working part-time by yourself?

She was right, I worked part-time. But God worked overtime! Immediately I thought of Elijah and the false prophets, so I looked up the story in I Kings 18. It’s a great story – you should take a look at it yourself if you need some encouragement.

The story said that Elijah challenged 450 false prophets to a showdown. He even shouted at them at one point saying there was only one of him but 450 of them (close enough to the 470 realtors mentioned in the letter that it gave me goosebumps).

After the false prophets spent the whole day shouting and dancing and calling on their god to come down from heaven with fire, nothing happened. So Elijah stepped up and prayed, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” At that moment, fire fell from heaven, consumed his offering and the people fell to the ground and cried, “The LORD– he is God! The LORD– he is God!”

Realizing that God had indeed answered my prayer too, I cried the same thing: “The LORD-he is God! The LORD-he is God!”

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for answering prayers to sell our house and find us another,
  • for the formal incorporation of Eric Elder Ministries,
  • for sustaining our baby through 7 months of pregnancy.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for provision for the right equipment to start this ministry,
  • for provision for the monthly costs to carry out this ministry,
  • for people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Lord bless you! Have a great day!