John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto Airport...
How does it happen that someone like me should be in ministry? I suppose there are women who have set their live’s goals to be ministers or “in the ministry”. All I ever wanted was to love and be loved. A career outside the home was not important because the desire of my heart was to have a loving home and family. When my first marriage broke up, my dreams were shattered, but life went on. As a single parent, it stretched me a great deal to be loving and yet maintain the discipline needed to raise two boys.
It wasn’t until Jesus spoke the 23rd Psalm to me in an audible voice, that His great love for me, personally, went from my head to my heart. From then on I knew He loved me unconditionally and offered me unlimited access to His everflowing love.
Seven years after my marriage break-up and three years after Jesus came into my heart, John and I got married. I think I fell in love with him spiritually first — he talked about and loved Jesus more than anyone else I’d ever met. But marrying John didn’t launch me into ministry. John owned his own travel agency, so I married a travel agent. However, John’s dream or goal in life had been to someday be in the Lord’s work full time.
Someone once told John, “Find out where God is moving and move with Him.” So, two years after we were mar- ried, we went to Indonesia on a missions trip. During this trip we felt God tug at our hearts to go into full-time ministry. We saw how God had used us, both bro- ken vessels, to touch lives in that country. Ironically, the Indonesian people poured so much love into us that we were just not satisfied to sell air tickets anymore. We wanted to love people to life. Afterward, we received a number of prophetic words confirming our calling. The Lord resur- rected John’s life-long dream, and we moved into full time ministry.
In June, 1981, we planted a church in my hometown of Stratford, Ontario. I was delighted to get out of the big city and to go home. People met me on the street and said “Carol, what are you doing here? You started a what? How do you do that?” They hadn’t heard of anyone starting a church before, especially some- one they had known for years.
One day while we were travelling to Stratford, the Lord kept saying to me “David’s army, David’s army.” To me, “David’s army”
meant mighty men of valour. We certainly didn’t feel that referred to us. I asked John what he thought the Lord might be saying. He suggested we see what God’s Word said about David’s mighty men. 1 Samuel 22:1,2 said, “When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discon- tented gathered around him and he became their leader.” Wow, I thought. The Lord is going to make John and I mighty in valour.
God began to bring us the hurting, the outcast, the rebellious young people on drugs, and so on. Six or seven would get saved on a Sunday morning, and get filled with the Holy Spirit Sunday evening, and then they would go and bring their unsaved friends.
We thought that’s what always hap- pened when you start a new church. We didn’t realize until later that we were in the tail-end of the “Jesus movement” that swept the country in the ‘70s. But as God began to increase and bless our church, my feelings of inadequacy grew. I didn’t feel qualified to be a pastor’s wife. I had no talents or abilities. I couldn’t sing or play the piano. Many nights I would cry and say to John, “I think you’ve married the wrong girl. I feel totally inadequate and useless.” John would say “But honey, you can love. You’ve loved me back to life and you can love even the unlove- able.”
I would agree, but say, “That’s no big deal. Everyone can do that.” I was just taking for granted the gifts that God put in me even from childhood.
John kept encouraging me, strongly at times, to begin to speak and share my heart with people. He gave me a two- month notice that he wanted me to speak at church on Mother’s Day. Reluctantly,
fearfully, I was launched into public min- istry. I travailed and sweated before the Lord to hear what I thought He said, and to get it down on paper. The night before I was to speak, I hardly slept. As the time to speak approached, I was shaking and perspiring noticeably. When I finished, everyone said I did well, but it didn’t make public speaking any easier.
Not long after God gave me John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. I was amazed! God had chosen me and appoint- ed me that I might bear fruit. He also quickened the passage in Isaiah 61:1,2 to me: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
I prayed the verses: “Oh Jesus, heal my broken heart, set this captive free, open the prison doors and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour through me.” Even though I kept saying the words, it didn’t occur to me to receive the verse about preaching the gospel for myself.
I had a real desire to be healed and to bring the brokenhearted and prisoners into the same freedom. As God began to heal my hurts and wounds through videos and books by John and Paula Sandford, I began to pray for others and to be released. My life as a woman in ministry was developing through my work in the Prayer and Care office in our church and in efforts at public speaking once or twice a year.
In 1991 a young man gave me a prophetic word that I would be speaking before thousands, including many pastors and lead- ers, and that I would also be moving in great prophetic gifting. Sarah laughed under her breath, but I laughed out loud and thought, “Oh Lord, did this guy ever miss it on this one.” Me? Prophetic? I never “saw” pictures, or for that matter, hardly ever remembered dreams. Since then I’ve apologized to our friend Marc Dupont, and to the Lord for not believing the word of the Lord to me.
So, I still wonder — how can an inadequate, fearful woman ever speak and prophesy before thousands? Certainly not on her own accord, but only through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. That began in November ‘93 in Argentina when Claudio Friedzon prayed for us, and grew when God’s manifest presence came among us on January 20, ‘94. For days, weeks and months, we soaked in the presence of the Holy Spirit. He filled, healed and empowered all who would spend time (usually on the floor) with Him.
Do I still get nervous before crowds? Yes, but not nearly like I did at first. I still ask, “Was the message any good, and did it come together?” I still need encouragement from John. But I’ve learned, and still am learning, how incredibly faithful the Holy Spirit is. He promised never to leave me or forsake me, so I try to remember to step back into his peace and rest before I speak. When I yield to Him and his ability and strength instead of my own, He is always there for me with His ever-flowing love.
This archived article was written by Carol Arnott for release in Nov, 1997. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
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