It seems ironic, but the two wealthiest people on earth are named Bill and Melinda, too. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, and his wife, Melinda, are worth billions. Bill Gates apparently never finished Harvard. He struck it rich long before his classmates by inventing and constantly redefining a product that affects practically every household and business in the world. In fact, I wonder if his fortune can even be measured.
I don’t think the fortune of this Bill and Melinda can be measured, either. I wouldn’t have said anything like that this time in 1993. The struggle to hold on spiritually and emotionally had left us destitute. All we had was a 5 x 7” envelope full of promises which you couldn’t really deposit in a bank anywhere. In fact, they didn’t seem to be worth the paper they were printed on. But little did we know then that we were about to strike it rich. Today I doubt that Bill and Melinda Gates feel as rich as we do; because if genuine happiness is the measure of wealth, we’re worth a fortune.
At the bottom of what seemed to be the lowest valley of our lives, we found a River, and it has become our source creating for us a rich delta of bottomland far more fertile than the mouth of the Mississippi River. It’s the same River that flows from heaven and turns everything it touches into life. Of course, I’m referring to the River of God’s presence whose headwaters seem to flow from a little church in Toronto, Canada.
When God begins to fulfill His promises to you, you will feel wealthier than Bill Gates, too. There is nothing like the satisfaction of seeing Him reward you in a million ways that fulfill desires you didn’t even know you had.
Before this River our circle of friends was tightly confined to a small group of fine folks who had put up with us for years. Today God has multiplied that storehouse of friends to include people in Europe, Asia, Australia, all over North, Central and South America, the Middle East and Africa. This is no small feat to perform for a kid from an obscure town near the Texas coast. It’s a downright miracle.
Our family has expanded, too. We often hoped and prayed that our kids would grow up to know the Lord. Today my son is on staff in Toronto and is currently on a short-term mission in Ukraine because the River has carried him there. Our daughter is married to “the top son-in-law,” and they have also served on staff in Toronto. They are serving with us now back in Trafford, and they have blessed us with a brown- eyed, chubby-cheeked little genius of a grandson whom I affectionately call “Little Business.”
Bill and I always thought we would never know the joy of home ownership, but in 1999 my heavenly Father breathed upon an inheritance my earthly father had laid aside for me over thirty years ago. Today I’m sitting in a new home. All the houses I had looked longingly at secretly hoping for but knowing I would never have turned out to be far less than the one my heavenly Father gave me.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday last weekend, we traveled to Virginia to visit “my little prisoners,” the inmates at Augusta Correctional Center. Yes, my circle of friends now includes a host of once-unsavory characters who have also found the same River. For me there’s no greater pleasure than being allowed to see the spiritual hunger and gratitude to God on their childlike faces made innocent by the same blood that cleared me, too.
On Sunday I’ll go to a church that is more than twice the size it was nine years ago before the River started running through it. But it’s not just bigger. It’s full of some of the nicest people on earth who are on fire for God, not vegetating in the pews but looking for more of His love and creative ways to give the Blessing away.
And in my heart flows a River of the presence of God, whose source is my Father in Heaven. I’m more in love today with His Son, Jesus Christ, than I’ve ever been in my life. Though my outer man is aging, and there’s more gray hair to color, in my inner “woman” flows life that never ends. I no longer have panic attacks, and I really can’t remember the last time I felt hopeless. Instead, I’m looking forward to what will happen next. I suppose you could say that I’ve been healed of epression and delivered from a fear of facing the future.
Some of you reading this are in a season of waiting for your promises to be fulfilled. Keep waiting. He who promised is faithful. When His Blessing comes, it adds no sorrow to it.
This first issue of ’04 is about how this River began and how wide its influence has become. It has brought life not only to us, but to people on every continent of the world, and a season of fulfillment to the hopes of millions. Mary Audrey Raycroft, one of the pastors in Toronto, shares her recollections of the beginning in ’94. Jack Frost, Randy Clark and Cindy Parton share how the River fulfilled God’s promises to them. You will also read recent testimonies from folks who are soaking in His presence and are seeing God make their deserts fertile, too. We’ve packed this issue full of helpful information. May reading it bring hope in your darkness and cause you to look forward to a wonderful 2004. In the River!
Originally Published January/February 2004. Editor Melinda Fish
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