“The Lord doesn’t want your ability, He wants your availability.” These words, spoken by Pastor Dunn, challenged me to be available for the Lord to use.

I had dedicated my life to the Lord during camp meeting at Mizpah Grove. And the Lord had provided many opportunities for ministry while I was in high school. At home I helped my mother teach a Good News Club. In church I taught Sunday school and led the children’s department. Before I graduated I even led our first church choir.

During college I had the opportunity to help in Bible School, teach some Sunday school classes in Sunbury, and sing regularly with the Gospel Four quartet.

Despite this, Pastor Dunn’s words challenged me as a married adult to be available for the Lord’s leading. Grammy and I thought maybe the Lord could use us as missionaries and we did make numerous inquiries with mission boards. However, the Lord closed these doors due to a lack of Bible School course work and because we had a number of physical problems. So we remained available for whatever the Lord had for us to do.

The Lord did answer our prayers in two distinct ways. First, He confirmed in my heart a special calling to be a missionary in the public schools. And for 39 years I had the special privilege to do this. During that time He gave me many special opportunities to serve Him and share my testimony. He gave me the opportunity to lead the Berean Bible Club for about 30 years and he allowed me to help sponsor a special student led Baccalaureate as part of graduation.

The second answer came in an unexpected way. One Sunday morning the Child Evangelism Fellowship Director, Katherine Hershey, came to our church to speak. In her presentation she mentioned the need for volunteers to help in this ministry. The Lord directed me to talk to her after church and before I knew what had happened, I agreed to speak for a week at the evening chapel of the CEF overnight camp in Quarryville.
With little experience and much fear we stumbled through the whole week. Uncle Tim was a baby and I even used him as an illustration one night. We added some music with Uncle Craig and Uncle Ken singing with us. Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a family ministry that would last, in a variety of forms, for over 25 years.

We continued these programs with CEF for many summers in a variety of locations. Our closing night programs when parents were there led to many new opportunities and our schedule began to expand. We began with musical presentations at banquets and for organizations like CBMC and CEF. This led to Sunday opportunities in churches for Rally Days, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Children’s Day, Christmas and family outreaches.

Over the years our ministry included numerous family vocal numbers, selections on the cowbells, violins played by Uncle Craig and Uncle Ken, solos by Uncle Tim (“I Am a Promise”), puppets (most of them made by Muz), ventriloquism (Greta with Grammy, Caesar with Uncle Ken, Titus with Uncle Tim, and Grandma with Grammy), gospel illusions (Uncle Craig and I), and a message (line drawings) by me. During the height of this ministry we were busy most Sundays March through October.

Our summer ministry expanded to include not only the CEF camp and several weeks at Pinebrook, but also weekends at a variety of Bible Conferences (Old Mill, Central Manor, Waldheim, Herndon, Rosedale, Camp Hebron, etc.). We also developed five-day Bible school rally type programs and used these several weeks each summer in a variety of churches. Among our programs were Treasure Hunt Adventures, Pioneer Adventures, Profiles of Courage, Anchored in Jesus, and In God We Trust. Each day was built around a particular theme and we even prepared handouts.

Along the way we replaced a small sound system prepared for us by the Smocks with a good professional system. We had to purchase a station wagon and then a van to carry our equipment. We also attended several of the annual meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians in Winona Lake, Indiana, to develop our skills in ventriloquism, puppets, and illusions and to purchase new equipment. Uncle Craig and Uncle Ken actually competed in a national competition one summer while we were there.

Some years we did about 100 programs a year. This included some radio programs and a CEF regional convention at Messiah College. All of this was very hard work. It took much practice and planning. It often meant getting up very early, delivering Sunday papers and then driving two hours to arrive by 7 a.m. to set up and practice for a program. But the Lord provided the strength, wisdom, and safety to minister to families for Him.

Was it worth it? Without a doubt! We saw the Lord’s provision and His blessing upon our family in so many ways. Your dads gained invaluable experience in front of people. It brought us together as a family. We have many memories of these years of ministry. And, hopefully, some day in heaven we will learn that the Lord worked through us to encourage and help others.

During this time we continued to be active in our church. We were involved in our music program, singing and playing. I served on the Official Board and the Elder Board for about 30 years and also served as Sunday school superintendent for several years.

As our boys grew older and became involved in college, jobs and then marriage, we began to curtail the family ministry and Grammy and I began to do more in music ministry, especially at Pinebrook, and in a variety of other opportunities that the Lord has provided.

The major change, however, came in 1980 when we were asked to lead a new ministry in our church, which was called Awana. And for 25 years we continued to lead this very special ministry which reached thousands of children in grades K-6. I believe the Lord used our family ministry as a special preparation for this unique ministry. As you become available, it is amazing how He will provide opportunities for you to minister and how He will also provide the training and direction necessary to carry out His call.

When we are born we all have special talents that we need to develop. However, when we are saved the Lord gives us special spiritual gifts which he wants us to use to help others and glorify Him. Unfortunately, many Christians fail to develop and use these talents and spiritual gifts.

My prayer is that you will develop your talents and use your spiritual gifts for Him. There is a special satisfaction that we can experience when He works through us to minister to others. We don’t do this however to bring any praise to ourselves but to glorify God. Someone has said that real JOY means Jesus, Others, and You.

Will you be available?