Authors: Joshua Frost
For much of my life, my dad was working, but always had other ministry endeavors he was involved in. I don’t remember him at many school performances, and even fewer when my children were growing up. Time with him was a huge thing to contend for (once I figured out that missing that time with him was so important to me). There seemed to always be something or someone more important. My wants or needs felt less urgent, maybe even less significant.
My dad became my dad when he was 21. He was young and as he would say, “Really didn’t know too much about being a good dad.” His own father was an alcoholic who left them for another family when he was a teenager. Prior to that, his father was “the drunk” his friends teased him about. When his father later came back to God, he repented to his family, and he endeavored to live his remaining days for God and in God.
We all have sad stories—of what we missed out on, of what was abusive, etc. My dad’s childhood was no different. But of course, I didn’t know how to process this information as a child. I know more now of course. I know now how to put hurts done to me in perspective—how to rationalize and understand harm or neglect done to me in a much more balanced, maybe even distant, less hurtful way. As a child, I only felt the lack or pain, like we all do. I have been involved (as a participant as well as leading) in various inner-healing ministries for over 30 years, including now, as a trainer for Bethel Sozo here in the UK. I now understand that brokenness produces more brokenness in our own children and others. I now understand that in order for me to “be presented without spot or wrinkle” I will have to embrace the process of my heart’s wounds being healed. As mentioned though, any places where others didn’t accurately represent God’s best for me, I got some bruises and scars along the way. I’ve also caused some. I don’t want any of my brokenness to affect my children or others, especially not out of stubbornness. It’s my responsibility to choose life.
As mentioned, one of the things that I have missed out on was time with my dad. When I was little he worked, then went to Bible school. Although not in full-time ministry until I was an adult, he was always ministering to others, either evangelizing or home groups. When you grow up with deficits on the inside, you aren’t always aware of how things have affected you. I remember a time when I was working in Toronto at the Airport Christian Fellowship in the busiest years of the Renewal. I needed to ask my dad a work-related question. I came to his office door upstairs, which was open. He was talking with his friend (and mine) Bill Prankard. I stuck my head in and when I realized he was busy, apologized and said I would come back. Bill had no idea what he said, I don’t think, but he said, “No, Lori, come in. You are much more important. My conversation can wait.” I can’t ever remember anyone honoring me like that before—never as it related to ministry. Maybe it’s only how I perceived things, but “the ministry” was almost like God Himself. How could I ever be hurt that God’s needs or conversations were more important than mine?
Let me say here that I don’t believe it has ever been intentional with my family to prioritize ministry life over family life. I think one of the biggest challenges for any of us in ministry is to remember to watch for and protect this precious gift of our family. It is not just the attending of special events like birthdays, school pageants, dance recitals, competitions etc., but also just the hanging out time. In my experience now as a pastor, I have found my three children—all adults now, serving in various roles with me here in our church in England—to be my greatest supporters. They have watched folks come and go, and felt the pain of that themselves, yet so supported me. Regarding faithfulness to serve and show up, they are the most faithful.
I personally believe that one of the enemy’s agendas throughout history has been to stop the accelerated, exponential blessing of God that goes from one generation to the next. I remember reading years ago that Mrs. Wesley used to spend one hour with each of her children, on their own with her, each week. With my youngest daughter, who is married, we still spend most Tuesday nights together as our “date night.” The other two are living back at home at the moment due to career changes, so we see each other most days and plan coffees or breakfasts together. I have experienced the blessing to me from my down line (children), as well as my up line (parents), and I know the power, support, and blessing in that.
In our family quest to fix the broken places and bless more the already good places, we have had lots of conversations and planned quality time together. It’s not easy living in different countries, but we have all made effort and paid the necessary costs. A few Christmases ago, my dad phoned and asked if he, Carol, and one my stepbrothers, Mike, could all come for Christmas. It was cramped (I only have three bedrooms) with eight of us for ten days! It was such a wonderful time—sitting around in pajamas together, going out to a concert together, Christmas morning together, playing lots of board games together, with
much laughing and simply getting to know each other more! I am so thankful to be living in a family that is determined to not remain stuck in the hurt, offended, distant places with each other.
My greatest fan when I am leading worship is my dad. I am his favorite worship leader! He has always encouraged me! Of course he and my mom paid for piano lessons, but even in the early days of singing solos in churches, he would say, “Honey, ask the Holy Spirit which song He wants you to sing.” As a young teenager, he taught me that some songs were anointed; find those ones. To this day, when I am leading worship, I still ask the Holy Spirit, “Which songs would You like today?” I’m not primarily interested in smooth key changes between songs or singing the current favorites. For me, it’s about Him, the Lord; if He doesn’t show up for worship, I am really not interested.
I know there were seeds planted in me when I was too little to read and would need my dad to turn the hymnal right way up as I was singing in church. The seeds to love Jesus. The seeds of recognizing the anointing in Kathryn Kuhlman meetings, when Dad would turn to me, tears in his own eyes, and say, “Honey, can you feel that? It’s the Holy Spirit’s presence.” The seeds of encouragement when I would lead worship. The phone calls and texts from Carol (my number-two fan) saying she loved the live CD I produced from a big conference here in England, but that the only problem was, not enough of me! The
words of, “
honey, that was awesome!” when I sat down from leading worship.
I know that I have been given some treasure regarding worship—to look for Him until His Presence comes. Where He is, miracles happen. That’s where the bar is set for me.
I went with my dad on an outreach trip to Mexico a number of years ago. He had been invited to speak. At the end of that trip, the regional superintendent of that group of churches came to him and asked if he (my dad) would please come back next year and address their network of churches that met together annually. My dad said to him, “I’m sorry, but I am not available that week to come as I already have commitments,” and turning to me, said to him, “Why don’t you invite my daughter, Lori, to come and preach?” Such an awkward moment! What could the man say? What could I say?
As it turned out, he did follow through and ask me to come and address this conference of their network of churches throughout Mexico. I took a team with me and we had a wonderful time. God did amazing things! I fell in love with those people. I was invited back the following year, and during that trip my heart would change forever! I had always made a vow that I would not ever be in full-time ministry. I was happy to do the occasional trip, happy to minister at home on various teams, but not permanent or, as I have said, full time.
During one of the nights of that conference, there was a call for ministers who wanted more. I knew I wanted to go up for this. I will never, ever forget what happened to me. I was on the floor in a full vision (before I had heard anyone speak of one really, and didn’t know what was happening). This is what happened: I was part of a long line of people, longer than I could see the ends of. We were pulling in nets—nets full of souls. We were all working so hard. I was aware that physically I was pulling and my arms were tired. Aware of my physical tiredness, I asked the Lord, “Can I stop yet?”
He said to me, “Not yet, there is more.”
We would pull in more nets full of souls,
full. Again I asked the Lord, “Can I stop yet?”
He said again, “Not yet, there is more.” I knew I was part of the harvest, and like the book of Joel says, those of us pulling nets were all together.
When we had finished, the Lord took me
. As I had learned and was natural for me, I asked Him, “Where are we going Lord?”
He said to me, “I am taking you to your reward!” I had always longed for that—I still do long for the day when I will see Him.
He took me into a room, and I just knew somehow that this was the throne room itself. I had expectations as I went in that I would see all of the gemstones and gold I had pictured as a little girl. I thought there would be a lavishly set table prepared for the great wedding feast with every imaginable luxury. I was overwhelmed by what I saw! The room was totally empty except for one thing—Him! He was the only thing in the room. He said to me, “I am your reward.” I was overwhelmed by absolute love and the revelation that He is enough!
We went from there for some wonderful lingering walks—no time restraints, no one else waiting, no one more important. He showed me, just off the throne room, one of my playrooms from a particularly lonely time as a child. I saw all my specific toys in there that I hadn’t seen in years. As I looked in from the doorway, I did not want to enter. I did not want to revisit that pain. He said to me, “But you don’t understand. I played with you in here. When you thought you were so alone, I was here. This is such a precious room to Me.” My heart was healed.
I then asked Him if we could go back to the throne room. I wanted to see it again. Again, only Him! I asked the Lord, “Was this amazing revelation just for me, or for others too?”
He said to me, “Go and tell them—I am their reward, it’s all about Me.”
I had never wanted “ministry” and all that this word had come to mean. Now it was all different. It wasn’t about others. It wasn’t about the different measuring sticks of success or, for that matter, failure. It wasn’t about pleasing them. It wasn’t about being afraid of them. It was about Him! From that moment on, I have been profoundly changed from the inside out. I decided that day I would do whatever He asked of me—even full-time ministry.
As a pastor for almost 14 years now, a parent for over 30, and a daughter for 50, I have come to believe that we all have sad stories. We are all heroes for surviving. It’s more about whether we take those stories and choose life, choose God in them. It’s more about whether we are willing to forgive the wrongs done to us, more about taking responsibility and repenting for the wrongs we do to others. It’s more about relationship than anything else.
In my family—and I believe in all families, really—there has been a war. We are all casualties to some extent. Our family—my dad, Carol, myself, siblings, our children—a few years ago all came to the same place; we wanted our family fully restored. In many ways, and for many reasons, we had some significant places of distance. Now all adults, we began to take responsibility for improving our relationships with each other. In our case as a family, there was divorce—my parents, but also my own—which affected relationships. There was distance, living in four different countries. There was also “the ministry” leaving little time for normal family stuff. We don’t very often just get to hang out together. We all have busy lives, some of us in ministry, other people wanting our time, etc. (When Jackie, my youngest, got married almost three years ago, for instance, I know Carol wanted to be so much more involved with all the pre-planning stuff, but sadly, was busy traveling with ministry.)
Our family—as individuals, but also as a unit—has definitely paid a price for the last 20 years, especially, of worldwide ministry. We now try to plan more family events—schedule in, because we want to, time with each other. God’s work is so important—whether our mission field is church leading, conferences, feeding the poor, school teaching, or secular jobs—but so is our family, the ones He first wants us to bless.
One of the things that I
respect my dad for—I can’t even say how much—is his willingness to continue to improve the relationship issues that have needed it, even now, with us, with me. More than anyone I know, he endeavors to live what he preaches. Declaring and imparting the Father’s blessing is such a wonderful and powerful anointing on his life, obviously affecting millions, but it has also affected me. Dad’s 70th birthday party earmarked this event for me, for all of us. He flew us all home (Toronto) for Christmas and his birthday. For each of us present, he went around the table, eldest to youngest, and blessed us, endorsing and blessing our strengths and callings. He told each of us how much he loved us and how proud he was.
My dad has received the Father’s blessing in his own heart and then chose to pass on his blessing to us. He could have just received, put it into more sermon notes, and stopped. He has never done that. It has undoubtedly been for the nations, but even more so for us!
The one who is Love Himself lives in each member of my family. First, just for me, I know how much I am loved, so that when I look in Jesus’ eyes, I know I am His favorite! Second, He has put each of us in our family in this amazing “inner circle” supportive group of fans for us to be supported and know unconditional love. Third, this “working model” of laughter, forgiveness, offense mending, anger, emotion, and commitment affects our world around us—and affects nations!