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A Cattle Ranch and a Soft Heart

Deena Bartel-Wagner

07/16/2008

Mickey and Verdene (Deenie) Meyer have every excuse not to get involved in witnessing and giving of their time. Their Idaho cattle ranch is twenty miles away from the nearest town, and it’s over twenty-two miles to their church. They work 4,000 acres and can go two to three weeks without anyone driving by.

inside_asi_summer_08_page_11_image_0004Mickey is involved in the local community as a member of the county weed control board, the local Lion’s club and as a volunteer firefighter. He also serves as a member of the Idaho Conference Executive Committee and is on the board of directors of Camp Idahaven. Until December of last year, Deenie was involved in the full-time care of Mickey’s elderly parents, who made their home on the ranch. And she makes regular trips to Walla Walla, Washington to look after her parents.

With all these responsibilities, one could forgive Mickey and Deenie for not having time to give Bible studies and prepare people for baptism. But the Meyers know that a life of “busyness” without sharing Jesus is a life without satisfaction.

inside_asi_summer_08_page_11_image_0002Mickey has always been a rancher/farmer at heart, but early on he developed a passion for outreach. As a young man, Mickey would mull over what he learned in his academy Bible class while milking cows and feeding calves on the farm. “I remember Melvin Brass, our teacher, telling us that we would get extra points for giving Bible studies,” recalls Mickey. “I decided that was something I’d like to try.”

With that decision, Mickey found a way to share the life-saving message of Jesus Christ. He overcame his deer-in-the-headlights fear and went ahead with the first study, even though he had a white-knuckled grip on his Bible the entire time.

Although life seemed complete after he and Deenie married in 1962 and children increased their family circle, Mickey felt a tugging at his heart. “By about 1970, I began to think I needed to do something more than just farm,” says Mickey. So he and Deenie made the decision to attend Walla Walla College where Mickey would study theology.

inside_asi_summer_08_page_12_image_0002With a family to support, this was no small decision. It wasn’t long before God provided a peek at the next provision He was making in their lives. “The Upper Columbia Conference leaders contacted me and said that they had a need for a mature theology major to pastor two churches,” says Mickey. “Many of my teachers discouraged me and said that taking on this kind of responsibility would dilute my efforts at being a student.”

Believing his teachers knew best, Mickey declined the invitation. As soon as he hung up the phone he felt sick to his stomach. “Mickey wasn’t happy with the decision,” says Deenie. “He called the president back and said that he knew it might seem strange that he was calling back, but he wanted to take the position after all.”

Mickey pastored those churches until graduation in 1975. Following his graduation, he and Deenie led several congregations. Deenie became heavily involved in Bible work and enjoyed helping prepare people for baptism. “At first, I was nervous,” she says, “I thought I had to know everything, but that’s not true. As long as you share the love of Jesus and what He has done for you, people will respond.”

Giving of their time was a large part of the Meyers’ pastoral ministry, and Mickey doesn’t know how many people he and Deenie have brought to the Lord. “The most important thing is that we are telling others about Jesus,” says Mickey.

Even though they loved pastoral work, a new situation arose that made them reassess priorities and eventually return to the ranch. Mickey’s dad was having serious health issues; and so in 2000, Mickey and Deenie returned to the ranch to give of their time in a new way. “Our belief is that we have a responsibility to our parents,” says Deenie. “So when they needed us, we were there to provide the support and care that they had once given us.”

“Although we aren’t in formal ministry any longer, our burden for the people of North America continues to be a passion,” says Mickey. “We have set a goal of leading at least two to three people to Christ each year.”

“We pray daily that God will lead us to someone that needs to hear about the love of Jesus,” says Deenie. “God knows we don’t have a lot of time, and so He sends key contacts that are ready to hear.”

Mickey says that if you are going to be a fisher of men you have to have your lines out and ready to catch the opportunities that God gives you to witness to others. One catch occurred when a friend asked the Meyers if they would study the Bible with her and a group of friends in Boise. Boise is 100 miles away from the Meyer’s ranch.

Mickey and Deenie committed to driving 100 miles each way every Sabbath to study with this group of seekers. When the drive became too much, they looked for a solution that would allow them to carry on the Bible study. “We invested in video phones, and the Bible study continues on a weekly basis,” reports Deenie.

The Meyers’ method of evangelism is to tell the stories of Jesus and develop practical applications for people’s lives today. “Our process for soul winning is helping people learn Biblical doctrines through the life and stories of Jesus,” says Mickey. “If your neighbor is raising cattle and he’s struggling to pay off his loan to the bank, you can’t start discussing the 2300-day prophecy with him. He needs to hear the simple gospel that will make a difference in his life at that moment.”

The Meyers have seen amazing things happen as they have given their days over to God and allowed Him to bring people to them. A young couple came to them and asked if Mickey would marry them. There was just one catch: the wedding would be in Mexico. Mickey agreed and began premarital counseling with the couple. And he had the privilege of baptizing the couple before their marriage. Recently, the Meyers were visiting a church and were thrilled to witness the young man being ordained as a deacon. “This was a ministry that arrived at our front door,” says Mickey. “God leads people to you when you are ready and willing to work for Him.”

Mickey also uses a personal experience as an opportunity to share with his neighbors. “I had been reading in Ezekiel 36 about how God will take our hearts of stone and give us a soft heart,” Mickey recalls. “One afternoon God used this to help me find a missing cow.”

The Meyers had 13 heifers that were ready to calve, and late one afternoon Mickey realized that only 11 of the heifers had returned to the corral. He got on his horse and began riding the pasture to find the two missing cows. He found one, but the other was nowhere in sight. “I rode and rode but couldn’t find that last heifer,” says Mickey. It was getting dark, and Mickey knew he had to find the right trail or the cow might not be found in time.

“At that moment I recalled the verse in Ezekiel about the soft heart,” says Mickey, “and I asked God to soften my heart so I would listen to His nudging of where the right trail was that would lead me to the cow.”

Just ten minutes later, Mickey was guiding his horse down a trail and in the distance he saw the white face of the heifer. Just beyond her was a little dot—her new calf.

“I’ve told this story to many of my friends and neighbors,” says Mickey. “When they ask me how to know who to vote for or what to believe, I tell them that all they have to do is pray for a soft heart.” Mickey assures them that God will lead wherever they need to go. “The result has been that they are soon asking spiritual questions,” says Mickey.

But giving of one’s self in ministry is not something limited to just Mickey and Deenie. Anyone can do it. “We don’t have anything in our toolbox that others can’t be making use of too,” says Mickey. “It’s just a matter of being willing to give of your time and asking God to lead you.”