especially given the tremendous pressure and increased persecution they had been under during the previous year. Her dream was to have a retreat at a resort hotel so Pastors could have a time away with their wives and two of their children (given the expense she felt to limit it to 2 children per family). She wanted it to be someplace very nice to express to them in tangible terms how much God loves them and is pleased with their sacrifices. She also wanted the focus to be on the importance of not allowing ministry to be prioritized above marriage and family. She asked us to be the speakers for the Conference and pray that God would provide necessary funds, hopefully through Raven Ministries (the economy in Egypt is terrible and not many other ministries see the importance of Pastors getting away for rest and to spend time with their families).
The Conference was scheduled for July 2013 and the Father provided $6,000 through Raven for the Conference and also made it clear that we were to go. As you know, the conference was rescheduled due to the upheaval occurring in the country at the time. Approximately $2,000 was spent on a non-refundable deposit for the Conference as well as a couple small localized meetings to encourage the Pastors in the short term. In October, Sister Monira shared that the new date for the conference was January 2014. She asked us to pray about coming to speak, as was originally planned, as well as for financial provision. She estimated they would need anywhere from $12,000-$30,000 depending on how many Pastor Families came, of which they had the $4,000 left from what Raven Ministries had given.We prayed and the Father told us to go but he didn’t provide any additional funds through Raven for the Conference.
When we arrived we asked Sister Monira whether the money had come in. She said they were charging the Pastors a small fee as they felt the Pastors should also invest in their families and she had raised money from Churches and individuals within Egypt, but she was still short. This was the night before the Conference was to start! In Egypt, they don’t operate on credit. A deposit is required when you register and a percentage due at check in with the full amount to be paid prior to check out.
We worshiped God and sought his direction for Raven, including the future, the finances and for the Pastors with a Raven heart in Central America and Egypt.
During that morning, I saw Raven Ministries begin and end with Pastor Ron and Luan LaGatta. When they retire, Raven is finished without someone to receive the baton of future encouragement to pastors. I presented the thought of staying close to home to teach and pour into others who have the call for encouragement. and briefly mentioned going with them sometime to get the whole picture. Now back to Egypt...
Because of the relationship Pastor Ron and Luan had built with Pastor Gamel and Monira Hanna, we found favor everywhere we went. We were received warmly with great honor by the pastors and their families to the staff of the resort on theFor my first time ever to go over seas to a foreign country this was an adventure beyond my wildest dreams. Red Sea. The spiritual battle was great and good and it was won by the grace, mercy, and strength of Yehovah Himself. What an awesome victory for teaching, encouragement and worship. We even had fun together, Egyptian and American, with lots of laughter!
Now that I have been an active part and hopefully a support, to the LaGattas outside the local ministry I see the great need for encouragement to pastors locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. They need to know we are praying for them and we need to be that encouragement by sending ministers to stand along side
One of Raven Ministries’ Board Members, Lynda Converse, as well as our daughter Michelle came with us this time. Upon arrival, we were informed that the individuals who were going to take care of the children during the conference weren’t able to come, and Lynda was asked to take them during the five sessions scheduled for the Pastor Couples. Lynda graciously agreed and the LORD had already prepared her heart for the topics. Michelle accepted the invitation to help. As one of our intercessors said, “Humility is the word for this Conference.” The humility exhibited by the team clearly created an environment for YHVH’s presence.
Typically, individual Pastors, Wives and/or Couples share that their lives have been touched by the ministry of the Holy Spirit through us, but only once before (when Ron spoke in Brazil) did an entire group respond to the LORD. So, we trust that our purpose is usually to plow the soil, plant the seed or water. Rarely, do we see the “increase” (results) on a broad scale. It was both exciting and humbling this time that the Father allowed us to see the “increase” He brought forth. The first night Ron passionately shared many things from Joshua 1:1-9, but the primary point was that “I, the LORD your God, am with you.” After the message instead of closing the meeting, the Pastors and Wives spent time in reverent worship of YHVH (the response we long for). The translator later said, “My people are a depressed people, you probably won’t see the emotional response you are used to but they were deeply touched.”