by Doris Tarbutton
“What a joy! Your ministry of unconditional love and mercy is powerful and the presence of God tangible. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to receive ministry in such a powerful, life transforming way.” Deanna in the CEM Guest Book
“We are lost for words…we praise and give glory to our loving God for raising up CEM to pour the Balm of Gilead into our hearts and feed us with the Bread of Heaven for the journey ahead.” Ken in the CEM Guest Book
Anyone who has the opportunity or privilege of being in any kind of ministry will, most likely, be asked these questions: “How did you get started?” “Do you have Scripture for a basis?” “Are you a non-profit?” “What is your ministry all about?” For Current Elijah Ministries, the most asked question is: “How do pastors get invited to come to Colorado?”
I’ll start with the first question: “How did you get started?” God has given every ministry a unique story of how it began—ours is no different. Allen and I had skied all over Colorado for about twenty-five years or so, but never at Copper Mountain. One summer, in the mid-90’s, we decided to vacation in the Colorado mountains and picked Copper as the destination. While there we saw a chapel in the central area of the village. That caught our interest because other ski areas did not have a chapel like that. On Sunday we noted that a church service up on the mountain was scheduled for 12:30. We went up on the lift and found a twenty foot high cross near the day lodge. People gathered around, sitting on logs or standing, and enjoyed a brief service of singing and a devotional. We were impressed!
As we continued to ski other resorts in the Colorado area, we always remembered the chapel and the mountain top service. When the time came, in 2001, to look for a property to buy for whatever purpose God had. Our initial thought was it would be a place for our family to gather. It was a year later that we began to realize God had His own purpose for our townhouse. As we considered various Colorado resorts, we were once again drawn to Copper Mountain and the ministry there.
Some spiritual patterns we only recognize as we look back at previous experiences. As Allen and I look back. we see a definite pattern in Allen’s spiritual journey. Although he never deliberately pursued a close relationship with our pastor, it happened in every church where we were members. He served as a personal counselor, confidant, encourager and friend to each pastor. Throughout the decade of the 90’s Allen often referred to a desire to minister more directly to pastors.
When we bought the townhouse at Copper Mountain we had no specific plans to house a non-profit ministry. As we began to enjoy time there, the idea came to invite our pastor and youth pastor to come out for a few days of skiing. That simple invitation became the beginning of an ever expanding list of pastor visits to our home at Copper Mountain. We established the non-profit Current Elijah Ministries to be the vehicle for ministry. The ministry pays for all expenses—airfare, food, lift tickets, etc. This is a ministry for pastors and their wives only, no children!
The second ski season we asked other pastors we knew to come and receive a refreshing from the Lord—and enjoy some great snow activities. During a discussion with one of the pastors, Eddie, we brought up the question of “How do we get other pastors we don’t know to come?” His suggestion was the answer we needed. Each pastor that came that year would invite one we did not know to come the next year. It is easy to look back and see how the rapid growth of CEM happened! It has been a successful format ever since. As a result, it has been our privilege and honor to meet a number of pastors, worship leaders and youth ministers during these last ten years.
Our agenda is simple—we don’t have one! We leave the agenda up to the Holy Spirit. Openness to the transforming power of the Spirit is crucial to what is accomplished in the lives and ministries of every pastor and spouse who comes to Copper Mountain. Only He knows why He brought each pastor and wife to accomplish His plan and purpose in their lives and ministries during their days at Copper. We do have a format for each visit—we call it the “3 P’s”: we pray with the couples, we play with them (skiing or other snow activities), and we pamper them by taking them to dinner at one of the many unique restaurants in the area. In addition to spending lots of time listening and taking them out to dinner, we provide opportunities for them to ski, and as much free time as they want to reconnect as husband and wife. The most important element is prayer. We spend an evening with each couple, listening, talking and then praying specifically for their personal and ministry needs. When it is appropriate, we spend time praying together as a group. It is a small, intimate gathering because we only have two couples at a time. We confidently expect the Holy Spirit to accomplish His plan in each one, and we have seen that happen with every visit.
This book comes out of our experiences with Current Elijah Ministries. It came about as several pastors strongly urged me to write about the struggles and issues dealt with during these visits as a way to encourage other pastors, ministers and their spouses to keep on through the hard times. The central message is from 1 Kings 19:7 “for the journey is too much for you.” To that I add, Current Elijah Ministries is one way God expresses His love and attention lavished on His chosen shepherds.
With each new pastor visit Allen presents the account of Elijah’s ministry found in 1 Kings 16-19. I urge you to read the message to gain insight into your own ministry and as well to catch a glimpse of the foundation for Current Elijah Ministries.