April: Relocating to Tennessee

During this season of our history, the members at First Baptist Indian Trail embraced our ministry. The programs and preaching there strengthened us and established much of our ministry philosophy.  As with any young ministry, finances were a challenge because our family was growing and we had the expense of developing teaching materials. We prayed the Lord would supply as we worked.  Pastor Fred Allred from Jamestown, TN contacted Sam and offered him the opportunity to join forces on some family related projects. He would be able to supplement our income for this but at the same time acknowledged the value and urgency of the work of FFM and would agree to balance the projects with our ministry that was already established. We were thriving at Indian Trail, but because we had asked God to supply our needs, we felt we needed to seek his direction on this proposal. We had no inclination to leave Indian Trail for a more remote setting, but we prayed. We were on a trip with the entire family and as we often did, we listened to sermons and books on tape. Our youngest son had received a set of Odyssey CDs for Christmas.  One of the stories was about a pastor and his family who were very happy at their successful church ministry in a major city when they were faced with the decision to relocate to a rural setting. It sounds a little bizarre, but the Lord used the scriptures and truths in this CD to stir our hearts and confirm our move to Jamestown. Mike Whitson, the pastor at First Baptist Indian Trail graciously agreed to offer us wisdom from a pastor’s perspective by serving on our ministry board for several years.  The people at Faith Baptist opened their hearts to us and backed Family Fortress Ministries. Our ministry expanded to some local one on one training for troubled marriages. These sessions not only offered hope and direction for hurting families, but alerted us to patterns of struggles that needed to be addressed in our conferences.

Since the ministry often required us to travel, we decided to homeschool our children. Homeschooling gave us the freedom to practice what Sam preached—spend more time with our sons when they took schoolwork on the road. As the boys advanced, they took computer and graphic design classes and even helped design some of our ministry brochures.  They became assets as they discussed marketing and offered ideas. Even now three of them continue to serve on our ministry board, offering perspectives to keep us connected with their generation through media opportunities.

Shortly after we moved to Jamestown, Sam had the privilege and opportunity to teach biblical family principles to pastors in the Philippines. These pastor enthusiastically received this teaching and gave testimony to how it had helped them. This once again confirmed in his hearty the need to equip and train pastors in family ministry in other nations.

Family Fortress broadened its field of ministry as pastors recommended our conferences to other pastors.  Sometimes churches would request specific family topics. As we studied and prepared for those sessions, new conferences resulted.

Our history is about how God orchestrates every experience to fit His plan and conform not only us, but also our ministry to what He desires.