“Down But I Can’t Quit”
The date and place is forever etched in my memory. It was June 1985 and I was sitting alone in our 72 seating capacity sanctuary. Alone and I felt the dark depths of loneliness. I had friends but I couldn’t let down my guard and open my heart to them. I was a struggling pastor desperately trying to grow a struggling church. My wife and I were both working to keep ourselves afloat. When my pastoral friends would call to ask how my weekend went, I would tell them that I just made the weekend church deposit at the first stop light on the way home from Sunday night service. I was down – way down, but something inside me wouldn’t let me quit.
One summer my wife’s parents and her Aunt and Uncle, who pastored good churches in Missouri, came to North Carolina to visit us. As the Sunday morning service progressed, they were weeping and worshipping. Later they told us they were not crying because they were feeling the presence of the Lord but they were crying because they felt sorry for us. Now that is real encouragement!!
As I sat all alone in the sanctuary, I said, “Lord, I have heard other preachers tell about going to a camp or conference and someone came to them with a word from you. Lord, I desperately need that to happen this week at Camp Meeting”. Monday my wife, 10 year old son and I loaded up and left for camp meeting. A hand shake and back slap was the normal greeting. When ask, “how’s things going in Lumberton”, my answer was what I had learned to say. “Great Bro. Things are going great”. The smile lasted until they would turn and move on to ask somebody else the same question. Have you ever wondered, “do those who ask those questions really care how it’s going”?
Camp meeting was explosive. Gordon Mallory was the evening evangelist and a tremendous anointing was on him for the entire week. I went to camp hoping – hoping this would be my time to receive a word from the Lord. As Bro. Mallory was preaching, the Lord spoke to me and said, “will you believe what Bro. Mallory is getting ready to tell you”? At first, I thought I was just overwhelmed with my own emotions and my mind was playing a game. Again, the Lord spoke to me and said, ” will you believe what Bro. Mallory is getting ready to tell you”. I said, “Lord if this is really you, I will believe anything”. What I am about to tell you is without exaggeration. It happened just as I tell it.
At that very moment, Bro. Mallory, about halfway through his message, closed his Bible and said, “I cannot go any further”. God just spoke to me for one pastor in this place tonight”. I must be honest, it was hard to wrap my mind around what I was hearing. He had everyone stand and asked for the ministry to come and stand at the altar area. There were about 65 preachers there that night. Sweat broke out all over me. My insides were like jello and then it happened. Out of 65 preachers Bro. Mallory walked directly to me and said, “Brother, I don’t know you and have never seen you, but GOD just gave me a word for you. Will you believe it? I said, “Bro. Mallory, I will believe God for anything right now”. The prophetic word that came forth was like a bolt of lightning that surged through me. I knew at that moment, God knew where I was, what I had been going through and He let me know I was not by myself. He was going to dispatch angels all around me and nothing by any means would hurt me. I didn’t shout, talk in tongues or run the isles. I just stood there, somewhat stunned that God really did have a word for me. I cannot tell you that in the next 30 days revival surged and we filled all 72 seats. I cannot tell you that money start coming in the mail and that our financial hard times came to a screeching halt. However, I can tell you that I walked out of that camp with my head high, my heart fixed and I never doubted who I was and what God had for me.
The breakthrough that was prophesied did not come until about 4 years later. When it broke it was like a tsunami. In one year our attendance doubled as entire families were coming to God. In less than a month, 5 families came into the church and 22 years later those 5 families are still in the church along with their children and grandchildren. The weekends were now nothing to dread and we couldn’t wait for the next weekend. People kept coming and 22 years later they are still coming. I no longer do the bank deposit at the first stop light but have a full time secretary to deposit the blessings. I know the question you are wanting to ask, so I will go ahead and answer it. Yes there have been some disappointing moments since that time, however, I had a sure word of prophecy, “Nothing by any means would hurt me”. Back then when I was down, I just wouldn’t quit. Now, when family visits, their tears are tears of rejoicing with us for the blessings of God. Winners don’t Whine and only Quitters Quit!!
Roy Barnhill lives and leads in North Carolina. He is the Southeast Regional North American Missions Director and serves as liaison to our team of North American Missions Sectional Directors.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org