From the Editor – Blue Ridge Christian News
Is God Calling You To Something Greater?
By Brian Barrier
We have all heard the phrase, “the Lord works in mysterious ways”, right? Many people may even quote that as a Bible verse. According to Wikipedia, it’s origin probably came from a Christian Hymn written in 1773 by William Cowper entitled “Light shining Out of Darkness” where he uses a similar phrase. God does tell us in Isaiah 55:8-11, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (KJV) We will never completely understand why and how God works and how He can use anything or anyone to accomplish His will here on earth – at least not while we are here.
For the past 11 years, I have enjoyed a comfortable sales management career. I have learned to manage outside sales, business management, video editing, website design, and many other important skills but I was just meandering through life with no real zeal for doing God’s work. Inside, I knew there had to be more to my Christian walk and to my life. My wife, Michelle and I along with our two sons have attended a local church in the small Enola community just outside of Morganton, North Carolina. We suffered the loss of a few family members unexpectedly the past few years that shook us up, but we have continued to be blessed and somewhat content. Now you can probably see where this is headed, right? Only as God can orchestrate, He started putting things and people in place years ago to accomplish His purpose. I believe that I first met Doug Harrell back in 2013 when he visited the automobile dealership where I was the sales manager. Naturally, I thought he was there to sell us advertising in the Blue Ridge Christian News but what I didn’t really grasp at the time is that he was there on a mission for Jesus Christ! We agreed to advertise in the paper and continued to do so over the next 5 years. I enjoyed the friendship Doug and I developed over the years and I looked forward to our time together each month as he would usually stop in just to say hello and see if we needed anything.
It was on one such visit in 2017 or 2018 that I told Doug how I would love to be part of such an important ministry someday. Deep inside, I felt unworthy and didn’t believe God could ever really use me for something so important. And besides, Doug wasn’t driving up in a high-dollar European vehicle so it couldn’t pay a whole lot! He commented that he wasn’t getting any younger and maybe someday he would be ready to hand off the paper to someone else, but he didn’t expect that to be anytime soon. (After all, he was on a mission from God). Several months later during another visit to the dealership, I learned Doug was experiencing some health issues and he commented that he might consider selling the paper a little sooner than he thought but I didn’t get the impression that he was ready to give it up. He asked me if I was serious when I had told him I wanted to be involved in such a ministry and I again said yes but in the back of my mind I didn’t really believe it would happen. For the next 5 months, I became so unsettled at work. I can’t even explain it properly. Looking back, I know now that God through the Holy Spirit was working on me but at the time, I just felt frustrated at work constantly. The owner of the dealership was so kind and accommodating and my team there were great. It made no sense. Finally, I decided to leave the dealership and really didn’t have a solid plan to provide income for my family.
I called Doug just to let him know that I was leaving the dealership so that he could stop by and get another contact for the advertising there. I started adverting to do tractor work and since I had a life and health insurance license, I put some ads on social media to generate income. I felt so unsure and out of place with what I was doing. Doug called and asked me to have lunch with him which I agreed. During lunch, I told him what I was doing and he asked if I wanted to do sales for the Blue Ridge Christian News in McDowell and Burke counties along with insurance and tractor work and that would give me some time to decide if I REALLY wanted to possibly take over the paper one day. I thought that was a great idea, so I planned on coming to their office in Spruce Pine to sign an agreement to work on a commission basis. I finally got to meet Doug’s wife, Barbara at the office and we had a great visit. Somehow, I left there without signing any kind of agreement and went back to Morganton. I can’t even explain how that happened! I kept feeling a tug in my heart (from the Holy Spirit) telling me that I needed to buy the paper and commit to God’s work full time. I was so upset and confused that I hardly slept at all.
I kept feeling like God was saying, “Brian, you are 47 years old and haven’t done anything for Me or to further my kingdom, it’s time”. It was like I had no control over what happened next. I constructed an email and sent it to Doug. I told him I wanted to buy the paper and I offered all the money my wife and I had saved, my 401k…everything! I couldn’t even believe I was doing this. I knew the paper wouldn’t be able to pay us very much and I would probably never put the money back into savings or retirement. I just kept seeing Matthew 6:31 when Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (NKJV) I knew the paper was a valuable tool for God’s work and it had to carry on. Doug replied to my email that he and Barbara would talk about it and pray about it and would try to get back to me by Monday or Tuesday the following week. I kept telling myself all the reasons I should not be doing this and how it was a big mistake and that I wasn’t worthy to take on this ministry. I was on my knees at the altar during church that Sunday and prayed for God to forgive me for every sin known and unknown and that said I would commit to this work in the name of Jesus if He was sure I was the one to do it. I was pretty much a nervous wreck by this time.
When we got home from church, I had a voicemail from Doug. In my mind I almost wanted him to say they couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Doug’s voice said they knew God had put it on their heart that I was supposed to be the person to take over the Blue Ridge Christian News and they wanted to go forward with it. I cried and doubted everything. Satan was working hard to put doubt in my mind. I asked my mother-in-law, Cathy Pritchard, if she would be willing to help with editing and accounting at the paper. She had recently retired from the Burke County Health Department and I thought she would enjoy having something to fill some of the time. I also really NEEDED her. That following Monday Cathy and I got in the car to drive up to Spruce Pine. As we were driving, she said something like, “so we’re going up to their office in Spruce Pine to meet them and talk about the paper and maybe about you buying the paper, right”? I guess it never occurred to me that maybe I hadn’t told her I had already agreed to buy the Blue Ridge Christian News! I said, “No, I actually bought the paper already so we’re going up to learn how to manage it”. I am sure you can imagine what she was thinking! Almost immediately, I transferred all the money I had to Doug and Barbara and we started the process of a crash course in managing the paper. The past few weeks have been a real whirlwind of learning new things, meeting new people and praying that God would continue to bless this mission of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ through the paper. Each day I wake up and pray and ask God to lead and guide me. I commit to knocking on doors and telling our story all day to potential advertisers and God has been faithful to soften hearts and provide the revenue to keep the paper moving forward.
Just like Johah not wanting to go to Nineveh or Moses giving God so many excuses about why he wasn’t the right man to go to Pharaoh, we can all be hesitant to say yes to God’s calling on our lives. The flesh of this world gets in the way and pride becomes our stumbling block. Perhaps our past sins make us feel unworthy and not useful. God assures us in His Word that once we call on the name of Jesus and submit to Him, we are washed clean as snow and our sins are not only forgiven but erased! Jesus reminds us in Matthew 9:37, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few’. (NKJV). If you feel the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart today, don’t run away. Make the decision to say yes. Whatever happened yesterday is in the past and will be forgiven through the sacrificed blood of Jesus, don’t let the enemy make you believe that you can’t be used by God because as we see so many examples in the Bible that God uses ordinary sinners like you and me every day!