During the years from 1993 through 1997 when the ministry headquarters were in Monroe, NC, the Lord not only increased the number of meetings per year, but He also prompted pastors to recommend our ministry to pastors at other churches. As a result, meetings were held at many new locations. Pastor referrals became the best means of expansion. As Sam studied, the Lord directed him to passages that practically addressed family issues. We developed the
Partners in Paradise marriage conference and the Leaving a Legacy parenting conference. We also added Peace in a Pressure Cooker World conference for ladies.
First Baptist Indian Trail asked Sam to accompany their mission team on a trip to the islands of Canouan and Trinidad. This was the very first mission trip on which Sam had the opportunity to participate. We had never raised money for a trip of this scope before, but the Lord Our Provider proved He would supply every need. This is a lesson we learned over and over again. The team traveled by boat to the small island of Canouan (3.5 miles long by 1.25 miles wide) which was populated by only about 1000 residents. There was no electricity on most of the island. The team slept outdoors under the stars and used collected rain water to shower. They conducted outdoor crusades and personal evangelism to the native islanders. Sam also had the opportunity to share family messages. After leaving Canouan the team traveled to Trinidad and ministered there.
Working with a team to pack in as much ministry as possible in a short amount of time was exhausting but exhilarating as he witnessed the eagerness of the Trinidad leaders to reach their country with truth. The gratitude expressed by the people who attended the meetings was humbling. The experience also made us consider how scripture addressed different cultural needs than what we were accustomed to dealing with. Sam returned home excited about the salvation decisions but burdened for the condition of their homes. This trip was significant as it not only alerted us to the need in other countries for preaching and teaching on the family, but also showed us the value of short term mission trips. Sam’s love and concern for the people in Trinidad increased and three years later, the team planned a follow up trip to minister to new churches they connected with on the first trip. The Lord provided funding for both Sam and Debbie to make the trip back to Trinidad.
During the day, we ministered in public schools, teaching God’s plan for family life in health classes. We taught straight from scripture, something that is sadly not allowed in the USA. One highlight was a trip to a finishing school for high school girls. As we used scripture to challenge them to pursue lives of purity, several acknowledged their lives were immoral and called on Christ to save them from their sins. Our hearts were stirred by their transparency. At night we traveled across the country to the new churches. The unity of the mission team, the way we intently prayed for God’s power, the dependence we had on Him and the fruit we saw Him bear intensified our passion to minister His Word. We became so much more aware of how the Lord is always at work. Not only did we minister to the people in Trinidad, but team members ministered to each other. The whole experience increased our confidence in God’s plan for Family Fortress Ministries and increased our vision to minister internationally.