Nate & Michelle Banker
Full Update Letter
While out to sea, a large boat became shipwrecked and there was only a single survivor. This man prayed and asked God to save his life. Soon thereafter, a boat came by and offered the man some help.
“No thanks,” he said. “I’m waiting for God to save me.”
The men on the boat shrugged their shoulders and continued. As the man became more deeply concerned, another boat came by. Again, the people aboard offered this man some help, and again he politely decline. “I’m waiting for God to save me,” he said again.
After some time, the man began to lose his faith, and soon after that he died. Upon reaching Heaven, he had a chance to speak with God.
“Why did you let me die? Why didn’t you answer my prayers?”
“Dummy, I sent you two boats!”
Hind-sight is best when life is beautiful
If you got our last letter, you heard about how God is taking Michelle and me on a new adventure into uncharted territory. God gave me new direction in life while I was deployed last year to the Middle East and I came back pumped and excited to start this new life.
Immediately we started tearing into our house doing demolition in the living room (thanks Suzy & Mike!) as we start to re-configure our home in order to use it as a place of ministry. I get quite frustrated with people who talk about the importance of caring, loving, and providing for others while never taking any steps to be the church to the needy around them. I am determined for God to use me and my house as a place of blessing.
Three months later and our living room is still gutted out. I was able to re-insulate and get all the electrical re-done, which is a huge blessings. Not a big fan of that old “knob & tube” wiring. Someday my house will be completely free of that disaster waiting to happen!
Soon after gutting out our living room I started to convert our front porch into our front entryway. New windows, door, insulation, drywall and some structural integrity work on the rafters (you never know what you’re going to find!) and I was ready to open up the wall between the porch and the living room. Today we have a large header over an open space that used to be a wall, new tile with in-floor heating as our heat source, new electrical and a brand new entryway cabinet for all our coats and shoes (thanks Ben, it looks amazing!). Michelle has picked out the paint and that whole room is nearing completion. Soon I can start re-focusing on the living room again.
Roughly half of my time is spent working on the construction on our house. God clearly told me that I need to prioritize my time with Him and not get caught in the workaholic trap. God has called me to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as such, I have a very real and important responsibility to learn, pray, study, worship and receive from Him. I have been spending the greater part of my mornings in prayer, reading scripture and writing teachings on spiritual principles that God has been teaching me. This has been a true blessing and I have thoroughly enjoyed this time I get to spend with Him every day.
Michelle and I have decided not to wait until our house is completely put back together in order to start using it as a place of ministry. Although it will not yet function as a place to house people in need, we have started opening up our house for different opportunities. We have had two separate worship nights at our house over the last couple of weeks and a number of accountability group meetings. A couple of weeks ago God showed us, much to our surprise and amusement, that the reason we did all that work converting the porch into part of the house is so that we can use that space to start doing Prayer Resolution counseling there. It was, very literally, an “Ah-ha!” moment as I realized, “That’s why I’ve been working on the porch?!” Honestly, it’s not an ideal space, but it’s the best we have and we are excited to find furniture that will fit and serve that purpose.
Over the last three months Michelle and I have been very involved in the prayer ministry at our church, Substance and have enjoyed watching God respond in powerful ways. There are constantly stories of miraculous things happening within and through that group of people. There was a man who was blind in his right eye who came to the Tuesday night prayer/worship meeting who left being able to see shapes, colors and movement out of that same eye. I also just heard a story last week from a man on our prayer team on Saturday nights whose Dad was literally dying until he showed up and started praying. Within a week of him showing up and praying boldly for healing, his Dad was sent home. The doctors don’t know why or how things changed so quickly, but the man himself was going around the hospital in his thick Norwegian accent saying, “Yesus healed me! Yesus healed me!” This is our God.
We also had the opportunity (thank you, skymiles!) to go out to a church in Redding, CA that has been close to both of our hearts. We went with a whole group of people who are all leaders within the prayer ministry at our church. It was a very refreshing and encouraging time for all of us.
I have also been doing Prayer Resolution Counseling on a more regular basis. In the last three months I have put in approximately 80 hours of counseling time. It has been amazing to watch God heal people spiritually and emotionally. I remember having one person visualize her Heavenly Father and she could see that, “He’s close enough for me to see the disappointment on His face.” That kind of stuff breaks my heart. By the end of her time with us she had a revolutionized perspective of her Heavenly Father and her acceptance before Him. There were so many lies that were broken down and God faithfully taught her so many truths to replace them. Truths like, “I am priceless,” and “I need gas to go,” and “I am lovable.” Our God is so creative in the different ways He shows people these things. It’s just fun.
I have started discipling a guy from my church who is my age physically, but rather new to the faith. He is an amazing man of God who is seeing some powerful transforming working in His life as he is fighting to get over some chemical addictions and is pursuing God whole-heartedly. We meet once a week officially and have met on other occasions. He may be young in the faith, but I see God doing amazing things through the power that is at work inside of him both now and in the future.
Faith in the face of doubt. Courage in the face of fear.
Since I have been “self-employed” I have felt very much like the drowning man in the story that started this letter. Since I have chosen to live this life based on faith, not sight, I have received numerous job opportunities but have turned them all down. I have felt the grace of God in some quite amazing ways and His favor has seemed to follow me wherever I go. In many ways I feel like Joseph who was blessed at whatever he put his hands to. But, am I the drowning man from the story? Is God providing solutions that I keep rejecting? Maybe, but I think not, even though it sure feels like it at times. I want to be honest with you all who care so much about my wife and me. It seems I could easily “get by” by taking any one of these offers. However, I am simply not satisfied with “getting by.” I realize that this puts me in a place that can make people quite uncomfortable. “Is he lazy?” they might ask. “Is he going to milk the system?” “Is he going to free-load off of all the other hard working people out there?” These are serious questions and I don’t want to dismiss them flippantly.
2 Thessalonians chapter 3 gives a serious rebuke about being idle and not working for a living. It was quite a difficult passage to read after having resigned from a job where I had a really great reputation and opportunity for upward movement and then turn down multiple job opportunities that I know I could also do very well in. After prayerfully digging into this and many other scriptures and seeking Godly advice my resolve is this; be a minister of the good news of Christ, and work hard at that. I want you to know that I am resolved to work 40-50 hours a week either preparing our house for ministry or doing some sort of ministry/personal development. I do not intend to abuse my sacred position as a full time minister.
At this point Michelle and I have everything we need. God has supplied abundantly, He’s just really good like that. Even after having come off of active duty military pay, we have somehow continued to increase our financial cushion and the money we need to continue to work on the house.
Now is the only time we are given
Right now I am preparing to do a two week intensive Prayer Resolution(PR) blitz with a missionary from Mongolia. Given my newly acquired flexible schedule, I was more than willing to offer to step in and do this. I am working with a full-time Prayer Resolution counselor who has been doing PR for a number of years and is quite good at what she does. She is a true example of what it looks like to seek the Kingdom of God first and trust that He will take care of the rest. She has also given me the “go-ahead” to start working independently doing Prayer Resolution, feeling that I am ready and prepared to a point where I can safely and healthily go out. I am taking steps to start doing that.
I am also in the process of starting a discipleship program, called Immerse, at my church, Substance. Our roommate, Amy, is co-leading it with me and we are all very excited about it all. We will be hosting the meetings at our house, so that is just another way for our home to be used for ministry. We will be taking on 3 men and 3 women, discipling them for 12 weeks and then sending them out to start Bible studies, prayer groups and hopefully disciple others as well. We are focused on spiritual development and empowerment.
Michelle is getting so very close to finishing up her degree in Psychology at Ashford University. Just one class and a few electives away and she will have everything complete by the end of summer. She is very grateful that she didn’t push it to get it done this spring as she would have had little to no time to participate in some of her own ministry opportunities. She is excited to finish so that she can start focusing on other things.
Michelle is working part time for now and is planning on working full time this summer as her nanny kids will not have school during the break.
In other news, we are excited about joining a CSA vegetable share with some farmers in Montgomery, MN. They are believers and produce healthy, chemical free veggies and eggs. We are looking forward to eating a variety of fresh and exotic veggies that we may have to creatively figure out how to eat or juice! We are also in process of applying for a permit to get chickens. Michelle is SUPER excited about having some baby chicks in the house and I get another building project – chicken coop! We are also getting two Honey Crisp apple trees from my old employers, Tree Trust. So, in a few months we will have fresh eggs and in a few years we will have our own home-grown apples! Exciting times.
Let me know if you would like to sit down and talk about how awesome our God is or what He has done/is doing in our lives right now. It would also be encouraging to hear about what God is doing in your life too! I would love to grab coffee with you. Please feel free to find either one of us on Facebook, e-mail us, or call us.
If you feel like God wants you to give to support what we are doing, we have a way where you can give and get the appropriate tax write-offs of supporting a ministry. We can give you the details if you contact us.
Nathan & Michelle Banker
1236 Upton Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55411