The Morning Star Rising on the First Day

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Ministry – Modern Day Miracles

When our church decided to launch a program to increase membership, they secured speaking engagements from a number of well-known evangelists and pastors and offered special church services over a single weekend. To ensure that the public knew about the opportunity, they invested in an advertising campaign.

The church wanted everyone who attended these special events to get the message of our church out to our community. Therefore, they set up a number of tables just outside the church to sell books, videos, audiotapes, and other religious items. I had been asked to work the table that offered videotapes of a famous evangelist. In the course of the assignment, I struck up a conversation with an interesting man who came by the table. He mentioned that he had a food distribution ministry and had connections with several salmon companies in Alaska. These companies had a unique situation.

 

Due to government regulations, the fishermen had to collectively limit the amount of fish they sold each day. If they caught more than the legal limit on any given day, they had to dispose of the excess fish. This typically resulted in taking the excess fish back out to sea and dumping them in the ocean. As a result, the fishermen were dumping large volumes of fish back into the ocean on a regular basis. Now, this is where the opportunity came in. Although they could not sell the excess fish, they were allowed to donate it to a charitable organization. This was where his ministry came into play. He said that he worked with a number of people who would process and freeze the fish and others who would deliver it, all for free. I thought that this could be a great opportunity for our church food distribution program. This man seemed like a nice person, but I decided to check him out before doing anything. I asked him if he had worked with anyone else in our area. He mentioned two organizations, one about which he had many great things to say. He indicated that this organization was led by the Holy Spirit, and that the anointing there was unbelievable. The name of this organization is Friend Ships.

 

I was very impressed with what he told me about Friend Ships, so I called them and set up an appointment to meet one of their representatives. I also arranged for Johnnie, Wanda, and two other couples to see this organization with us. One day after work we drove over to the Friend Ships’ warehouse on the Long Beach docks. We entered the office area but found that the person we were scheduled to meet with was not there for some reason. However, there was another man there who seemed very interested in us. He introduced himself as Don Tipton. We were soon to find out that he was founder and leader of the Friend Ships organization. What an amazing and rare organization Friend Ships turned out to be.  At that time they did not ask for money. In fact, they operated very well with little money because every worker was a volunteer. No one was paid a salary, including Don and his wife, Sondra.

 

One thing that we noticed while we were there was that there was a lack of any organizational structure and minimal planning activities. I thought that anyone who came here from corporate America would be amazed at how this group got anything done at all. The irony of all of this was their tremendous ability to deliver food, supplies, equipment, and all sorts of other things to people who really needed it. This was all explained by the fact that they had a secret weapon—their faith in Jesus Christ. They simply stepped out in faith and trusted in God for what they needed. Time after time they watched in awe as God came through again and again.

 

Remember: Peter Walked on Water until he Doubted

Let me give you an example. They had a food distribution program in which they collected and distributed food for the poor each Saturday morning. Amazingly, they did not make any arrangements for people to bag the food into distribution packets so that the food could be easily passed out to the poor and needy. People just showed up. The right number of people showed up at just the right time to get the job done. They trusted in God, and God delivered.

 

The entire operation was run this way—on God power. There was something special about Don that I liked right away. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy. He had seen it all, and he was serious about his commitment to God. He told us a story of how he brought his wife to Jesus prior to their marriage. They had read the entire Bible together, and once they did, the call of God became clear to them, and they went into full-time ministry.

 

They sold their Beverly Hill’s polo field and other businesses and started their ministry by simply stepping out in faith. Their vision was to collect surplus food from the wealthiest country in the world—the United States of America—and distribute it to the poor and the hungry people of the world.

 

Don told us all about their ministry, and how they got started. For example, he told us a story of how their first ship was donated to them. Soon after they had entered full-time ministry, they found their heart was for the poor and starving people all over the world. But to care for them, they would require a ship to transport goods they had collected to the places where people needed them. So, they started praying for an ocean-going ship, but nothing happened at first. Consequently, they said to themselves, we must step out in faith and start looking at ships that are for sale.

 

One day Don went to look at a 300-foot ocean transport ship. The owner took him on a tour of the ship showing him everything it had to offer. After the tour, the owner invited Don to have a cup of coffee with him, and they sat down to talk. The owner was obviously very interested in selling the ship, and he immediately started to negotiate the price with Don. This, however, made Don uncomfortable because he did not know how to tell the man he didn’t have the money to buy it. Eventually, he told the owner that he ran a food distribution ministry and hoped that he would donate the ship to them. The owner agreed immediately. All he had to do was to come over the following day and sign the papers. That is how Friend Ships got into the shipping business. They stepped out in faith, and God delivered.

 

But now they had to find a place to store the items to be shipped when the ship was out to sea making deliveries. They found a warehouse that was not being used and got permission from the owner to use it rent free until he could sell it. That owner sold the property after six months, but the new owner extended the agreement with them until he could lease the warehouse to someone else. The result was that they were able to use the warehouse for an additional eighteen months prior to finding their next warehouse in Los Angeles.

 

Again, they stepped out in faith and God delivered. This kind of thing was the norm for this ministry. There are so many stories like this about Friend Ships. Miracles prevented disaster, money was given just when they needed it, and skilled people like retired naval officers showed up saying that God sent them.

 

Don explained that their food collection depended on what the local businesses gave them. They also worked with church groups and other individuals to distribute the food locally to the poor. Clearly, God was blessing this ministry. Don explained all of this as he escorted us through the warehouse. We got to see, first hand, all the items that they had collected and eventually would be shipped overseas. The items consisted of all of the things that are needed to support a community including —school desks, fire fighting equipment, and medical equipment. The Holy Spirit was overseeing it all. Pat and I broke off from the group for a while and walked through all three floors of the warehouse, crying like babies most of the time. We were humbled how God had supported this ministry.

 

Don took us out to the dock where the newest of their three ships was being renovated for duty. The ship was longer than a football field and more than five stories above the water line. The ship was being renovated to become a floating hospital. Their plan was to bring the ship into various ports around the world to deliver medical attention to the poor. As they brought people aboard ship for treatment, there would be opportunity to tell them about Jesus. We walked through the ship and found a great number of people working to convert it for her new mission. I thought: the ship is huge, what a job it is going to be to make her ready for the mission.

 

The Holy Spirit was on the ship as well. Don brought us to one of the finished meeting rooms and led us in prayer. I believe that every one of us had tears in our eyes in the midst of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. What a pleasure to find a ministry working under the pure guidance and direction of God. I guess that you could say that we got more than we bargained for, but somewhere along the way we did manage to ask Don about the man who had the salmon fish distribution ministry. He indicated that he knew him, and he had been there to visit with them but they had only gotten a couple hundred pounds of fish from him.

 

Subsequently, this information did not sway us one way or the other. We did not get what we went for, but God delivered what He wanted us to have. He was providing information once-again. This time it was to see how He worked with His people. He showed us a ministry that was His ministry. It ran with volunteer help and required very little money. It was a ministry that was directed by the Holy Spirit with little planning and organization. This ministry just stepped out in faith and learned to depend on Him. He showed us that miracles are still happening today. God has a heart for the poor and the needy. He showed us a ministry focused on building communities and enabling people to better care for their families. If you would like to know more about the Friend Ships ministry, read the book entitled, Jesus and Company—Part 1 by Don and Sondra Tipton. Information on how to order the book or learn more about the ministry is on the Internet. Simply go to http://friendships.org/

 

Thank you, Don and Sondra, for being such a true example of what it means to be a Christian.

 

Subsequently, this information did not sway us one way or the other. We did not get what we went for, but God delivered what He wanted us to have. He was providing information once-again. This time it was to see how He worked with His people. He showed us a ministry that was His ministry. It ran with volunteer help and required very little money. It was a ministry that was directed by the Holy Spirit with little planning and organization. This ministry just stepped out in faith and learned to depend on Him. He showed us that miracles are still happening today. God has a heart for the poor and the needy. He showed us a ministry focused on building communities and enabling people to better care for their families. If you would like to know more about the Friend Ships ministry, read the book entitled, Jesus and Company—Part 1 by Don and Sondra Tipton. Information on how to order the book or learn more about the ministry is on the Internet. Simply go to http://friendships.org/

 

Thank you, Don and Sondra, for being such a true example of what it means to be a Christian.

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