After I was verbally attacked multiple times by an individual in my church, I went to my Pastor to ask for help. I walked into his office one Sunday morning after the service and I said “Pastor, we need to talk.” Immediately he quickly responded with what seemed to be an attitude and said “Yes we do!” Recognizing the strange tone in his voice, I asked him “is everything okay Pastor?” Promptly he said “you go ahead!” As I began speaking about the man in the church who had been harassing me, my Pastor interrupted me and said “Yes, I know he’s already been here telling me all about it.” Then what my Pastor told me next ripped the heart from my chest! I suddenly felt about two inches tall and I never wanted to cry more than I did at that exact moment. I was devastated! I started turning red and began to become very hot and sweat. I felt that everyone was now against me. I was used to receiving many looks of disgust from many members of the church every time I walked in the building. Some how many of them didn’t believe in me or the ministry God had called me into.
However, of all the people in the world, my Pastor should have been the one person I could have spoken with. All this time I’ve been attacked by this man in the church and now my Pastor was on the verge of burying me in a deep dark depression. He said “I don’t understand you Nate! I don’t understand why you do what you do!” “You’ve written these books and even bought a label maker so you print color labels to place on your sermon CD’s.” He said. He continued “I just don’t understand why you suddenly decided to start writing books and printing these CD’s!” I was distraught and so hurt by the words of my Pastor that as I fought to hold back the tears, I failed and began weeping. I then began to tell him my story.
“There’s no cost too high to pay to see one soul saved!” I said wiping tears from my eyes as they rolled down my cheeks. “This is what I was taught as a young child at Faith Free Will Baptist Church in Lavalette, West Virginia.” I said. “We prayed every Sunday for God to save some one. It was always the highlight of our prayers.” I explained. My Sunday school teachers and Youth Pastors always pressed the point for us to be prepared to lead someone to Jesus through the prayer of Salvation.” I said. “It was my personal daily duty and goal to tell someone about Jesus.” I explained. Trying to positively convince my Pastor of my loyalty to him and the Boaz Church of God, I proclaimed “I have lived in Alabama for seven years Pastor, and God has set me here in this Church under your leadership now for six years.”
“Obviously God wants me here to help you grow this Church.” I declared. Then from deep in my heart, I told my Pastor, “Pastor, for the past three years, I have worked a full time job just to fund the ministry God has given me. I’ve run myself into the ground by getting only three to four hours of sleep two or three nights per week.” I said. “I left my family in West Virginia, moved 500 miles away in search of a better life after graduation and after much searching I ended up in all the wrong places.” I said. “Then God led me here to you in this Church!” I said confidently. I said again, “Pastor, for the past three years I have drained myself of every last bit of energy trying to start and run a ministry.” “Not for money but to help people find God.” I said. “I’ve given hundreds of dollars each week to building stage props and other items to be able to better minister and teach those who come out at 1:30am each week to Whosoever Service.” I explained. “I’ve been preaching at 1:30 in the morning every week to night shift workers for three years and it’s been a struggle.” I said. “Everything I’ve done is to win souls to the Kingdom of God.” I said. “I have done nothing wrong and the devil is taunting me!” “Why is all of this happening to me Pastor?” I asked. “Why is this guy harassing me?” I asked with more tension in my voice. “He won’t leave me alone!” I proclaimed. As sad as it was, I was sure my Pastor had already made up his mind over the whole situation. After the long conversation that I had with my Pastor that particular Sunday afternoon over the harassing phone calls and home visits I was receiving, I still wasn’t sure that he was on my side. The guy in my Church who had been harassing me didn’t like the fact that I was creating sermon CD’s and somehow he had convinced my Pastor that I was up to no good!
I still don’t understand why my Pastor got so upset over me buying the label maker and putting nice labels on my sermon CD’s. Okay, so anyway, we have a military ministry at our Church and we send active duty soldiers a care package every month to Iraq and Afghanistan. Might I remind you that these are the soldiers who are fighting every day for our freedoms! They have set their lives on hold to protect our lives! They have left their wives, husbands, and children to go fight on our behalf! I’m reminded of a great Bible verse right now. “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
I wanted to help our Church’s military ministry but I didn’t have much money seeing how I was working a full time job to fund my own ministry. Nevertheless, I did everything I could to help. One day while helping Kim Dumas pack the soldier care packages, she mentioned to me that she thought it would be nice if I would place some of my sermon CD’s in the boxes for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. At first I was leaning toward the idea of not in a million years! Of course, it would have been a tremendous honor, but why me? Why not Pastor instead? He was by far the better preacher! I told her I would think about it and let her know next month. As the next month rolled around, I went back to the Church to help Kim and some of the other ladies to pack the soldier care packages. Kim asked me, “Nate, did you bring some CD’s?” “Yes I did” I said. I was proud and much honored to have the privilege to send my preaching CD’s around the world. I never thought I would go around the world, but I did! As the months went by, I had begun to receive thank you letters from the soldiers which encouraged me to do even more ministry.
That year when I got my income tax return in my bank account, I went and purchased fifty custom made t-shirts I designed with the help of Tee who was a local t-shirt printer. The design depicted the different branches of the military. At the top of the shirt, it said I support military troops, and at the bottom, it said Nate Fortner Ministries. What I did was gave the t-shirts away 100% FREE in exchange for a $10.00 donation to purchase each soldier on our care package list a copy of Mike Murdoch’s Military Topical Bible for Service men. At that time, I was a huge fan of Mike Murdoch and his preaching. I still enjoy listening to him teach. One year I even got to meet Dr. Mike Murdoch in Birmingham, Alabama at a special partner’s conference, which I was a partner of his ministry at the time by the way! I was able to raise a few hundred dollars going from business to business asking people to sponsor a Bible for a soldier. I worked weeks on this project and had a great return for my efforts. I even had some of the members of my Thursday night ministry Whosoever Outreach out getting Bible sponsors. One Saturday morning, we had set up a canopy tent at the local Boaz Foodland to try and raise money to send Bible’s to the soldiers. The Foodland Manager was so nice that he allowed us to pull our canopy all the way up to the front door of the store so that each person going in and coming out of the store would have to walk under our canopy. That was so cool! We raised $80.00 that day and even better than that was the fact that we were able to pray with people right there in the parking lot at the front doors of the grocery store! After raising $80.00, I was able to purchase more Bible’s for our soldiers.
Of course, my Pastor already knew that God had my heart, or so I thought. I was still in a leadership position in the Church, but I still don’t understand why my Pastor chose to believe this other Church members story over mine. Even if my Pastor did believe me, I felt that he didn’t. One thing my Pastor was unaware of though was that I had sent my sermon CD’s with that fancy label to our soldiers overseas. Now this is where I get emotional. After I sent those sermon CD’s to the soldiers, one them was killed in a road side attack. My thought has always been this and only God knows, but what if that soldier listened to my sermon CD and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior? Think about it with me for a minute! I may have been the last person he ever heard speak about Jesus! What if I led him in the prayer of Salvation all the way from around the world via that fancy labeled CD that my Pastor didn’t understand? What if the last Bible verse he read was from the “Service Man’s Topical Bible” by Dr. Mike Murdoch that I sent him just weeks earlier?
I’ve heard it said many times in these twenty Seven years that God has allowed me to live that God works in mysterious ways! Well as mysterious as it is, tell me where is that fancy labeled CD now? Who else listened? Who else will hear the message of the Gospel preached because of a fancy labeled sermon CD by a 24 year old preacher who’s Pastor just couldn’t understand why he did what he did?