December 2020- January 2021
Passing the Faith
Enjoy the Journey
By Brad Ransom
The older I get, the more reflective I become. Anniversary dates and milestones are important to me. This year I celebrated seven years at North American Ministries (NAM). This is a big deal to me, because I never dreamed I would be here at all. I started out in ministry just doing what God called me to do, and I have been so blessed!
God allowed me to serve on staff at three great churches: Grace FWB Church and Logos Christian School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1980-1988); First FWB Church, Ada, Oklahoma (1988-1993) and First FWB Church, Sulphur, Oklahoma (1993-2007). I honestly thought I’d spend the rest of my career pastoring the First FWB Church of Sulphur, Oklahoma, and would have loved doing it. But a conversation with Jim Puckett (then Oklahoma state mission director) changed the trajectory of my ministry and life.
When Jim asked (more like told) me to pray about following him as state mission director, I thought, “Why me?” I had no experience or background in missions other than being a pastor who believed in and supported missions. I had been on several mission trips and personally supported missionaries and church planters. When Allen Mabra, chairman of the Oklahoma State Mission Board reached out and asked me to pray about it, I resisted. Why would I leave the church I loved pastoring, where I had a successful ministry?
Back then, I had no idea “why.” In fact, the answer wouldn’t become clear for several years. After resisting the invitation to consider serving as the state mission director, I finally conceded to pray about it, still never believing it would come to fruition (or wanting it to). In my final prayer before conceding to the “call,” I remember telling God all the reasons why I couldn’t go. Our church was growing. We had just finished building a new sanctuary and had seen new outreach efforts reaching more people than I could have ever dreamed. We had voted to hire a new outreach minister, we were remodeling older facilities, we were raising money to build a family life center, and we were winning many people to Christ.
Why would I want to go anywhere? My people seemed happy; they loved me, and we loved them. It was every pastor’s dream! Then God spoke: “You’ve given Me all the reasons you don’t think you can go, but you haven’t asked Me if I want you to go.” I told God right then, I’d go wherever He wanted me to go.
After a difficult and tearful departure from my beloved congregation, I’ll never forget my first day alone in the new office at the Oklahoma state office. “What in the world am I doing here? I am out of my league! I don’t know what I’m doing!” These and many more thoughts like them were running through my head. But one thing I knew for sure. God had led me there. I still wasn’t sure why, but I knew He had. I quickly jumped in trying to figure it all out.
Fast forward six years. I was in another state, approximately 1,500 miles away, preparing to speak at their state meeting. They had heard about the good things happening in Oklahoma and invited me to speak (another “scratch your head and wonder” moment). As I drove along the interstate to the meeting my cell phone rang. Caller ID indicated a Tennessee number, but one I didn’t recognize or have in my contact list. Upon answering the call, I was greeted by a voice I had only heard on a couple of occasions. The caller identified himself as Dr. David Crowe, the newly-appointed general director of NAM.
My first thought was, “Why is David Crowe calling me?” He quickly answered my question. “God has laid you on my heart, and I wanted to ask you to pray about joining my staff as director of missionary assistance.”
I honestly can’t describe my feelings at that moment, but the single response that came to mind (and, thankfully, I didn’t articulate) was “Are you kidding me?” The same thoughts flooded my mind as they did six years earlier on my first day in the Oklahoma state office. “I’m not qualified. I don’t have a clue.”
I may have degrees in theology, Christian counseling, evangelism, and church planting, but am I qualified to do this job? By my own merit and judgment, I’m not qualified. But, by God’s call, I am.
After almost 35 years of ministry experience, many things started to make sense. I suddenly understood why God laid my name on the hearts of Jim Puckett and Allen Mabra years earlier. I realized the years I spent in the pastorate helped prepare me for the years I spent as Oklahoma’s state mission director. Those years as director gave me opportunity and experience to do what God has for me at this point in my life.
So, have I arrived? Is this it? Has God fashioned me all these years to do what I do now? I feel like this is true, but I won’t truly know until my life is over. God fashions all of us who are willing to go wherever He sends us.
So let me urge you: whether you feel qualified or ready, go where God leads you! The past seven years at NAM have been some of the greatest years of my ministry, and I know I could not have gotten here without my journey. I also know God has used some great men to mentor me and walk beside me on my journey. God places individuals in our lives to lead us and give us wise counsel. My advice is to trust them! You may not understand it now, but in time, God will reveal His plan. If your experience is like mine, it may take many years. But God’s plan is a great journey. In the end, I always return to my life’s verse: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
God may be preparing you and leading you to do something you could never imagine (like planting a church). Trust Him. You can depend on His plan and allow Him to take you on the path that will prepare you for whatever direction He leads. When you get there and look back, you will know it wasn’t always easy, but I guarantee it will be worth it!
My journey has been incredible, and I love to look back and see how God orchestrated so many things I couldn’t see at the time. God’s view is greater, and He will always lead you through. Trust Him and enjoy the journey.
About the Writer: Dr. Brad Ransom is chief training officer at North American Missions. Learn more: fwbnam.com.