Oct 21, 2016 | Ray, VISITING THE NATIONS

It’s hard to believe we have only been in Missoula, Montana USA for just one month, so much has happened and we still have another month to go.

We arrived ahead of Steve Oliver and Trevor & Rachel Payne and I’m glad we did.  A house had been kindly rented for us by the church so we five could be together for the Summit conference, and after Steve had gone home back to the UK we two couples would use it as our base.  The house is situated in a part of Missoula not known to us previously and looked somewhat run down and we noticed one or two dubious characters on street corners smoking something or other.




But after that things changed, the kitchen needed updating, the dishwasher didn’t work (well you can do without one of those, millions do!) and I couldn’t find the washing machine.

The house has seen better days, 50 years ago I guess it was the family home of quite a well to do family; grand piano in the living room, a huge leather chair which I laid claim to before the others arrived, a generous dining room with large antique table and chairs.

One bathroom with toilet combined between five of us was a challenge so I was a little unhappy but Sue calmed me down.  Yes, we could go out and buy a few more mugs and other things for the kitchen that were absent but Steve’s attic bedroom, without heating, was a challenge. Steve would have to ascend a severe flight of stairs with no lighting, I was hoping he had brought his climbing shoes!

The stairs were unlit as the light bulb was broken.  We would have replaced it ourselves but it was so high up, I worked out Michael Jordan would have had difficulty and there was no ladder available.  If Steve had been 2’ shorter the attic room would have been OK as he was only able to get access to his bed by maintaining a straight path down the centre of the room at the apex of the slanting ceiling.  He didn’t complain of course but I’m grateful Heather was not with him as Sue told me later that had Heather been with us, we would have had to occupy the loft room and given Steve & Heather our bedroom.  We missed Heather but I am grateful she was needed in the UK!

Well, the bathroom was a challenge – five adults to one loo and shower and it had an adjoining door to our bedroom.  So we put some rules in place, no showering before everyone has had an early morning pee and lock the door firmly please.  Well, it worked.  Steve has not got to the age (unlike me) when he needs to visit the bathroom during the night, just as well as he may have not survived the Eiger like staircase in the dark.

Now, where is that washing machine, it’s in the particulars but nowhere in sight?  After a while I discover a stairway (unlit) to a cellar.  Ah there it is and it worked!  The cellar reminded me of the closing scene from the film “The silence of the lambs” – don’t watch it, it’s scary.

The artwork was interesting.  In the dining room a very large painting of a man (neutered) agonising in hell.  I thought this must be from Dante’s Paradiso & Inferno” but Trevor said “No, it’s from Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistene Chapel in the Vatican” – Trevor got it!

Michelangelo’s portrayal of hell in the dining room

I won’t comment on the artwork in Trevor & Rachel’s bedroom which also houses the family TV , so much for the Ryder Cup last weekend!

Sue was wonderful and it’s amazing what a woman can do, she moved some things around, added some flowers and now it is beginning to look and feel like home.

Well, that’s taken a long time to tell you about our home in Missoula – now what have we been doing?



The night before the Summit began, we entertained about 20 or so leaders, many travelling long distances, to a buffet of some delicious titbits and nice wine etc.  Soft lights (mainly because of a lack of light bulbs) created a very welcoming atmosphere.

Friday evening September 23rd at 7pm the Summit began.  A good turnout, remember some have to travel 100s of miles from other parts of Montana, as well as Washington State and some had come from further afield.  A great atmosphere as we worshipped and then Trevor Payne opened up to us how we like Nehemiah of old are about a great work.  It was so good that Steve recommended every leader and member of our churches needs to listen to it.  (Come to think about it, he didn’t say that about my message on Saturday pm!)  It was a great start and many were prayed for after the word.

Saturday morning opening session was Steve’s turn.   He spoke from Acts 4 and used the life and ministry and especially the generosity of Barnabas as a type of what we must be today as the people of God and particularly Regions Beyond if we are going to be able to reach the nations for Jesus Christ.


The second morning session was a question and answer time where Steve and I were interviewed by Trevor on Regions Beyond and its progress as well as some very intelligent anonymous questions from the congregation.  This was received well and led to many follow up discussions.

Saturday afternoon yours truly was on.  I started by sharing a short story I had written of a fictional dinner party where Luke the Physician was questioning Peter, their special guest, about why he should ever want to walk on water.  That was the fun part which I followed with two stories, the first about Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and their three friends who were speared to death in 1956 when they endeavoured to reach the Auca Indians in Ecuador and the story of David Wilkerson and his attempt to rescue gang leaders on trial for murder in New York in the late 1950’s.  The theme overall was for us to understand and recover authentic Christian service even if it leads to all kinds of sacrifices in the natural we would not choose.  The fact that my illustrative stories were from some all American heroes helped my cause.

The theme overall was for us to understand and recover authentic Christian service even if it leads to all kinds of sacrifices in the natural we would not choose.  The fact that my illustrative stories were from some all American heroes helped my cause.

Although the conference officially finished on the Saturday night, some stayed over for the Sunday and we had to put out extra chairs.  The worship was led by Dave Meek who leads the Lion’s Den church and his band.  Their music style is more in line with hard rock but what an atmosphere they created for us to worship in as their songs were so Jesus centred.

So Steve preached to a packed house and did brilliantly.  From 2 Corinthians 10 he opened up how God had given us a sphere of ministry where we were to faithfully sow the Word of God and see this region changed dramatically for Jesus.  Another word which kept everybody’s attention and which drew quite a number forward for prayer.  I don’t know what time we eventually got home but we prayed for many who were seriously touched by the Holy Spirit.  I believe our 5 Regions Beyond churches here are getting hold of a vision and a strategy for the whole region.  Very exciting and so satisfying for us.

Well, we 5 felt pretty exhausted at the end but what a privilege.  We didn’t gather to 3 speakers, we gathered to God and nobody was disappointed.  Trevor & Rachel Payne had spent 6 months in Missoula last year and we reaped something of what they had faithfully sown.

Before Steve arrived, I was given the heads up that Steve was exhausted so after the conference was finished he was forbidden to do other than be refreshed.  Needless to say we enjoyed some golf.   Steve and I took on two very good golfers from Clark Fork – Dave Spicer a former scratch golfer who hit a 74 gross and Jan Dean, a lady golfer off an 18 handicap who hit the ball a mile.  Well, Steve and I both hit gross 83s and won the day.  A little better than the European team in the Ryder Cup!  Steve enjoyed quality time with his son Cameron who, with his wife Lerene, will be coming to Missoula in the new year to join the staff at Clark Fork City Church.

So Steve returned home to the UK on the 28th September to another busy schedule, Trevor & Rachel left for our churches in Helena and Bozeman for 10 days and Sue and I have remained here with our Missoula churches until we get on the road this Thursday.

So far so good!  Weather last week in the 80’s and even 90 one day but this week cold, low 40’s and dropping at night and raining.  But so what, it’s God and what He’s doing in this part of the NW USA that warms our hearts.

Your friends


Ray & Sue