Hope, Healing & Freedom Podcast : Ep 46
Hello. I’m Rick Hensley with Restoring the Foundations Ministry and want to talk to you today about answering the call of God and my personal walk of obeying in faith.
My wife Michelle had been an RTF minister for almost a year when our pastor asked me to come into his “green room” just before a New Year’s Eve service in 2007. He asked me to prayerfully consider being trained in RTF so Michelle and I could minister together. As I was looking at him, quietly in my heart I said, “no Pastor, that’s not for me, you have the wrong guy for this, you have not heard the Lord on this one.”
It took about half a second for me to think that! But I told him I would pray about it – and I did.
Now, you need to understand something about me. I had always been the “just get over it” guy. We all have issues, I reasoned. Just pray and keep moving forward. Man up. If you fall, just get up and move forward. It will all work out. I considered RTF something akin to counseling and I hated the thought of me being a counselor. Michelle was a biblical counselor then, and would occasionally ask me to join her in a session just to have a man present. I would rather have a root canal and knee surgery simultaneously than be present for a counseling session. I know it has its place, and in general there’s nothing wrong with it at all, but it was not for me.
I prayed about it for the first week of January already knowing what the answer would be because I could not see myself ministering in this way. But the more I prayed, the more I felt the Lord was calling me. So I went back to my pastor and told him I thought the Lord was saying yes. He said, “Well, the wife and I’ve been praying on this for about a month and we think you’re the guy.”
Well, okay then. I told him training started in two weeks. He said if I could get off work the church would pay for me to go. So I took vacation time and went to North Carolina for about a week of training.
I still wasn’t 100% convinced the Lord was actually calling me to do this. It just wasn’t me. When I got to the training center at Echo Mountain Inn in Hendersonville, North Carolina, I checked into my room. The Inn was the ministry headquarters, was a functioning bed and breakfast, and was also used to house ministry trainees. Well, my room was all pink with white bamboo furniture and a floral bedspread. So undignified! This was obviously a sign from God that I wasn’t supposed to be there! I threw my suitcase on the bed, opened it up, and said, “Lord, it’s not too late. I can close this bad boy up, call a taxi, and I’m out of here. And I’ll reimburse the church for all expenses.” There was utter silence. I think Jesus was telling all of heaven to be silent!
The next day was the first day of training. All us trainees were in one group being taught about the ministry and were given a demonstration of a ministry session. On the second day we broke into small groups of three with a trainer. One of us would be the Minister, another the Ministry Receiver, and I was the first observer. My job was to make sure the Minister was following the Minister’s Guide and to keep track of the time. Well, as soon as the Minister asked the Receiver to describe the issue he wanted the Lord’s help with, and he started talking about it, I started tearing up. And I never cried. I was the ‘just get over it’ guy. But there I was with these strange objects forming in my eyes. And that was just hearing about the issue he was dealing with.
In that moment, Jesus took hold of my heart and turned it toward Him. He instantly gave me compassion where there was none before. I had previously taken a spiritual gift test and scored a whopping 4 out of 100 in mercy. 4 out of 100!! I had no mercy and no compassion. Until right then. He equips the called. I said yes so He gave me all I needed. This fully convinced me He was calling me to be an RTF minister and I was all in. I was even ready to stay longer to go further in training, but He graciously reeled me in, and I finished my week of training. I went back home and Michelle and I began ministering together, just like our pastor had envisioned.
In 2014, I felt something was about to change for us. I began having extraordinarily detailed dreams and visions, which was quite unusual for me. I rarely had dreams that I remembered and I’m not sure I ever had a “vision”. With some help from friends, we went to the Lord for interpretation. Much of what God was showing me dealt with upcoming promotion. I think because I was seeing with such clarity, it felt very intense and came with a sense of urgency. I was thinking within 2 or 3 months, whatever “it” was would happen.
Now I’ve learned that God doesn’t always mean what I think He means; so, I had no idea what a “promotion” would look like, or if it would even seem like a promotion to me when it came. I wasn’t looking for one nor did I think I needed one. And I wasn’t sure my sense of urgency meant the same thing as it did to Him. And to top it off, my wife was receiving nothing – no dreams, no visions, no words – nothing. She was always the one who would pick up on something happening in the Spirit before I would, if I would at all, but not this time. It was all me. So odd.
I went to my pastor and let him know the Lord was up to something with us. And that it was so intense it would probably happen quickly, whatever it was. A man of wisdom and experience, he simply said they would pray with us and to just relax and we will see what the Lord wants to do. So, in great anticipation, we rested and waited. But even with the intensity and urgency I felt, nothing was apparently happening.
A few years before the dreams began, Restoring the Foundations had a leadership change. Lee and Cindi Whitman took over as Executive Directors from the founders, Chester and Betsy Kylstra. As the new leaders were installed and the baton was passed, the Lord clearly told me to be available for them, to be ready to support them. Too easy, I thought. That evening I told Lee what the Lord had said. He responded with a “great to hear” kind of response. He had never met me and I had never met him, and neither of us, I don’t think, were too sure about this. And over the years Lee never called me on it…at all. I had actually forgotten about it.
Forward to 2017 and Michelle and I were back at the RTF headquarters being trained as trainers for RTF ministry. It was supposed to be a 5-week process, but the Training Director kept asking us to stay longer so we could help them with the ongoing training, and we would also have the benefit of becoming better ministers and trainers. And the Lord kept telling us yes, to stay. Eventually, the 5 weeks turned into a total of 16 weeks.
As we neared the end of that time, Lee and Cindi asked us to prayerfully consider joining the RTF staff to support them. Honored, we said we would pray. But almost instantly the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and said, “don’t you remember what I told you when they were installed as the new Directors?” My memory flashed back to when He told me to support them, to be there for them. In that moment, it rose up in my spirit that this was it. So, after consulting with Michelle, I said that we really didn’t need to pray about it. This is what the Lord meant several years ago when He asked us to support you. So we’re in.
This is what the dreams and visions were all pointing to. This very moment – to say yes to God and His call on our lives. We had no idea the offer was coming or what it would look like once in place, but we were off and running. We went back home to Colorado and began getting the house ready to sell. It sold in 19 days at our asking price and we headed back to North Carolina. What a blessing. Our two sons were in their 20’s and it was hard to leave them, but knowing it was the Lord made it easier.
Now, I’ve been Lee and Cindi’s assistant for almost 6 years and Michelle has been the staff intercessor. We both help with training and anything else that comes along. And we are truly blessed! By the way, it took a full three years to go from that sense of urgency to being asked to join RTF staff.
But when did this all really begin? It took some time for me to see this, but two or three years before my pastor asked me to pray about getting trained, I had asked the Lord a question. “Lord, I see in John 10:10 you said I will have an abundant life. Even though I have a wonderful wife, two great kids, lots of friends, and making plenty of money, it seems something is missing in my life. I don’t feel that abundant part.” That was it. I heard nothing back from Him when I asked Him this. Ever. But He started working behind the scenes.
And now, after all these years, I can see that He answered my prayer. We are now living the abundant life He destined for us. He just had to get me in alignment with His heart. He readied the promotion, updated my heart to align with His, and in our obedience He has brought great joy.
Now, after more than 35 years of following the Lord, we’ve come to another place in our walk with Him where we are sensing more change, another shift. Are we open to anything He wants from us and for us? Are we ready to say yes again? It took a while, but after some soul-wrenching time with Him, we are saying yes to whatever that is. We love where we are and don’t want to move if it comes to that. But there’s something about knowing that His plans are always good and something good will come out of it for us and for the kingdom, maybe even a whole lotta good!
Saying yes to His call really started the whole process. If we weren’t willing to say yes the first time, He would’ve kept working on my heart to position it where He wanted it – in agreement with Him. But obedience was still our decision. It always is. Is it worth it? There is nothing that could replace all He has done to us and through us because we said yes to His call.
When we say yes, He then equips us to walk into that calling and be successful. We simply cannot anticipate what He has in store for us when we say yes. Is it easy street? No. Will there be hardships? Yes. Do we still miss it sometimes? Yes, of course. But He graciously gets us back on track and flowing with His Spirit. And it is all worth it! A true Christian walk is not boring! Say yes to Him and let the adventures begin!