RAY & SUE LOWE -Final Update From USA 2017
After 88 days in the Northwest USA plus excursions into California and Mexico, we are now home. I got used to driving on the right, filling up the tank for just over $28 and living with smoky air because of the many forest fires in Montana.
Temperatures usually between 85F to 100F have not been unwelcome to Sue and I so the UK will need some adjusting to. Although for myself after only a few days at home I’m off to Wrexham, North Wales and then flying to South Africa for our first Apostolic Forum at Steve & Heather’s farm just outside Clarens so not much time to be idle. Plus in October a little surgery on my left knee which should keep me active for the next 10 years, God willing.
I’m not going to give too many details of the last two months in the Northwest USA but suffice it to say it has been a very worthwhile time visiting churches that have now joined Regions Beyond in apostolic partnership as well as a number of church plants that are planned for the next 6 months.
Clark Fork City Church in Missoula celebrated its 40 years anniversary. Many stories were told about when Steve & Kay Valentine, Bruce Donnelly and another couple moved from Alaska to pioneer a church from virtually nothing. Some of those who were with them in those early days visited for the weekend and it was great to hear their stories. Now it looks like two congregational plants are planned for Clark Fork, one to be led by Ben & Heather Ritner in the downtown student area and another some 30 miles out in the boonies in the Bitterroot Valley. Couldn’t be more different locations – one gathering students, the other gathering cowboys and cowgirls from the nearby ranches. Sue and I visited the Bitterroot team led by Stacy & Anne Ratliff and Buck & Jami Rodolph on our last night and are excited at the prospect of their plant. So watch this space!
Great news is that John Meek Snr, who has had serious health issues, is well on the way to recovery so much so that he and Miriam will be joining Hope Bromley for the next 3 months and maybe, just maybe, another plant when he returns to the USA. You just cannot keep those old cowboys down – pioneers by name and nature!
So now to, to Spokane in Washington State. Jon & Becca Meek have been pressing on for some years now and can tell you that pioneering a church plant is not easy. Sue and I enjoyed a week with them and their core group especially as they camped in the wilds for a weekend. Preaching open air around a log fire was a new experience for me but it was a great weekend. Jon & Becca are regrouping now and will launch again in a public venue in some months’ time. Do please pray for them; it is tough getting off the ground.
It is so good to have two church plants on the go in Spokane. Matt Diesen with his friend and colleague Matt Karsh both from Oregon have planted River’s Edge Church and they have been joined by an old campaigner and friend Tracy Batterton, a formidable trio with enough theological clout behind them to start a university! This summer during the wonderful summer months, they have had “open” BBQs every Sunday afternoon/evening in a local park and this has enabled them to meet many newcomers to Spokane who are looking in on the church. Sue and I enjoyed ministering at a Holy Spirit weekend and we were not disappointed, many discovered gifts of the Holy Spirit and a fresh anointing which will bear fruit in the next months. Please pray for our two churches in Spokane, a thriving growing town that needs many more plants.
In August when Steve joined Sue and I, about 40 of our church leaders went away for a weekend retreat to Kellogg, Idaho famous as a ski resort and boasting the longest passenger carrying Gondalo (ski lift) in the world. It took 30 breath-taking minutes to go up to 7000 feet and then if you were so inclined more visits to higher ski slopes were available. No snow yet of course but it was a treat to be away in such a wonderful setting in the mountains. Together with a water park in the resort, the kids were well catered for and so were we as we spent many hours in God’s presence as well as Steve and I being able to open God’s Word. A weekend of cementing vision and values which we’ve been working at for some years now and a sense of growing friendships which God will be able to bear much fruit from.
And so to Helena, the capital of Montana, famous in the late 19th century for its gold rush and precious stones. At one time Helena boasted more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world! Those days have long gone but Mount Helena Church led by JR Quigley, known as JR, and his team have better things than silver and gold. They have a lot of very precious people who are hungry to share Jesus with their neighbours. Steve and I (just us two boys) enjoyed 5 days with them, some excellent meetings, meals and late nights as we prayed into the evening with many who were responding to the Word of God. Steve and I were lodged in what I can only describe as a “guy’s pad” with a full size pool table which kept us up a bit late but we enjoyed every minute of it as well as a fantastic round of golf at the local country club. Aren’t we spoilt! Well, what a fabulous church and so glad we are partnering with them. Again, we expect a plant or two in the not too distant future.
That almost brings me to the end of my log and I said I would not give too many details. Well it’s difficult not to when you are excited about what God is doing. However, I must just mention the Lion’s Den church now led by John & Miriam’s son David. It is another great place and Sue and I enjoyed a fantastic evening of worship and prayer with them, so alive with their own brand of music, a bit heavy rock and perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea but God’s presence is so apparent. Dave and his wife will be with us at Dubai so do get to know them.
Well I started this at 6am and I’ve just heard a plaintiff cry from the bedroom “it’s tea time”, Sue has just woken up so I’m off to get her morning cup of tea! So, from me, God bless you and enjoy the life He’s given you.
Ray & Sue