Pastors, Ministry Workers Receive Helping Hand
- Saturday, May 22, 2004
"I can't tell you enough good things about Gilead and the people who run it," says Gibson. "I know of no finer facility, nor two people with more of a heart for pastors and others in ministry. The Autrys' sweet spirit and compassionate care certainly qualify them to minister to those who are hurting and need to be encouraged."
Gibson pointed out that in much the same way God gave the Autrys a vision for Gilead, He also gave him and his wife a vision to build a camp and conference center for young people in the foothills near the city of Arad, Romania. "As a result of God's faithfulness, we've been able to minister to thousands of young people."
As the trio discussed God's call upon their lives that morning, Lanny's and Deborah's deep commitment became apparent, says Gibson. "I covenanted to pray with them. Pastors everywhere could benefit from their loving, compassionate care. And Gilead's setting is so conducive to restoration and healing."
The beautifully furnished cottages and guest rooms, 10,000-square-foot conference center, fishing lake and numerous hiking paths make up the physical trappings that are Gilead. But Gilead's backbone is a non-profit ministry called Pastor's Friend.
"The Pastor's Friend ministry is the main reason we exist," remarks Lanny. "It's a non-profit ministry, funded primarily by donations from churches and individuals, through which ministers and others called into vocational Christian ministry are given assistance in five specific areas of need." These include:
1. Educational -- Many ministers need additional educational training. Funds help provide tuition, books, school supplies and seminar fees.
2. Emotional -- The Autrys' Godly wisdom and counseling expertise make them the perfect pair to listen with an understanding heart. Lanny recently completed a Doctorate in Biblical Counseling.
3. Financial -- More than half of those in ministry vocations find it necessary to engage in a second job outside their calling. Pastor's Friend helps with one-time and short-term financial needs and counsels families in wise stewardship.
4. Physical -- Pastor's Friend has developed a network of Christian healthcare providers who will provide services at no cost, or at a greatly reduced rate, to pastors' families who are either uninsured or under-insured.
5. Spiritual -- People in ministry often give so much of themselves that they ignore or downplay their own spiritual needs. But meeting needs such as these is first and foundational to Pastor's Friend. By encouraging ministry couples to spend intense time with the Lord, and requiring them to be accountable for that time, the Autrys often attest to spiritual renewal in those who earnestly seek the Father.
And a heart that is open and genuinely longing for help is one of the most important factors in whether or not a pastor, his wife, or any other ministry worker will truly benefit from the Autrys' ministry efforts.
So says Rev. Richard Owen Roberts, a former pastor from Wheaton, Illinois, who is recognized as one of the leading authorities in the world today on the subject of biblical revival and spiritual awakening.
Roberts and his wife, Margaret, have been guests at Gilead several times when they've come to Mississippi for speaking engagements sponsored by Christ Community Church in New Albany. When contacted by phone and asked for his impressions of Gilead and the Autrys, "Mr. Roberts," as he is lovingly called, had much worthwhile to say.
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