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  • Writer's pictureNathan Freeman

From Pastor to Evangelist: My Journey of Faith and Purpose

It was a typical frigid February morning on the Lord’s Day. My family was loaded

into the car, and we were headed to a preaching engagement I had at a church

about an hour away. My wife, Shiloh, was reading out loud to me from the

biography of Leonard Ravenhill, one of the saints who had gone before us.

This newfound practice of her reading to me while we drove to preaching

engagements happened accidentally; my wife was reading a biography of Susanne

Spurgeon one day and simply said, “Hey, listen to this,” followed by me saying,

“Wow, would you keep reading?” and thus began a new time in our life. Our travel

time was now taken up with her reading out loud to me while I drove.

For my preaching engagements, my wife would grab the biography on the life of

Leonard Ravenhill, a preacher ablaze with zeal and love for the Lord. It was like a

booster shot to the arm before I preached to hear of Ravenhill’s life, but something

even more wonderful began to happen; we began to have a longing for the type of

corporate prayer meetings that the author, Mack Tomlinson, wrote about. I began

to pray that I would meet someone who could tell us what it was like to attend

those prayer meetings, and I confided this to a friend who would meet with me in

prayer. One day, my friend brought me a slip of paper with a phone number on it.

He says, “Here, this is Mack Tomlinson’s phone number, and he wants to talk to

you.” I was floored that not only would Mack take an anonymous phone call from

a man who somehow found his number on the internet, but he would even be

willing to take the time to talk to me, an unknown preacher from Oklahoma. Mack

invited me and a friend to attend one of their Wednesday prayer meetings, which

was modeled after Ravenhill’s weekly Friday night prayer meetings, which Mack

and his wife used to attend.

The very next week, a good friend and I took off on a five-hour journey south to

the prayer meeting in Mack’s house. We had no clue that where we were going

would change the trajectory of our lives and our families lives and would begin the

forming of deep friendships, the kind that mold and shape who we are. It was at the

prayer meeting that I met Michael Durham, a long-time friend of Mack and the

founder of Real Truth Matters Ministries.

I still remember the prayer meeting like it was yesterday. The warmth and

hospitality of Mack and Linda Tomlinson. The eager smiles and handshakes of the

living room full of people gathered to pray. The prayer time was wonderful; it was

a blessing to see so many families gathered together; the dining room chairs had to

be brought in to provide seats for everyone. There was something else, however,

that occurred during the meeting that resonated with the preacher in me and only

increased my desire to see true preaching fill the pulpits. I had already been

growing deeply concerned and burdened at seeing the spiritually starving sheep at

the churches I visited. When we would leave a place of worship, my wife and I

would often lament, “I can see their bones showing,” meaning we could see the

hunger in them as even a young and inexperienced preacher like myself shared a

simple message about Christ and the Lord’s desire to walk in intimacy with them.

It was at this time in my walk with the Lord that the Lord began to open my eyes to

the shallowness of much of what I knew the church to be.

At the beginning of the prayer meetings, it was normal practice for an elder to

exhort those attending to really meet with the Lord in prayer by sharing a portion

of scripture and expounding upon it. I can still remember sitting on the couch next

to my friend, and on the other side of me was Michael, whom I had just met. Mack

asked Michael to share a word of encouragement with those gathered. Michael

stood up and preached. It was brief, yes, but there was more to the preaching than I

was used to. Something unexplainable was happening. My inner self was smiling

as my brother poured forth words in a way that really left imprints on the hearts of

the listeners. I knew what real preaching was through reading old books, and I

longed for it from myself, but here, I found myself drawn to someone who lived it.

Here before me was a man of conviction. Someone with whom I would eventually

find myself sharing my convictions and concerns for the state of many churches

and who shared many of those same convictions and concerns. The Lord really

knit our hearts together in a unique way after that day.

From there is a long story of two brothers in Christ, Mack and Michael, who took

us in, helped us plant a church, often visited us in Oklahoma, watched over us, and

prayed for us. They walked with me as I navigated the journey of shepherding a

church; they were patient with me as I went through all the struggles that come

with pastoring a flock of Christ’s people. They were with me in my failings and my

victories. It has been four years since I placed the call to an unknown brother in

Texas, and in that time, the Lord has really grown Michael into a mentor for me.

We formed a deep friendship and have continued to grow in the same convictions

regarding our burden for the church. How we both long to see the church lay ahold

of all that she is in Christ; to pursue New Testament Christianity by pursuing Jesus

Christ as the Gospel.

Over the course of the last year, the Lord really began to create in me a burden to

help my brother Michael in his labors at Real Truth Matters. Through much prayer,

the Lord made it clear to us both that the Lord had indeed called me to help

Michael by joining Real Truth Matters as the first-ever Associate Evangelist for

RTM. Even though I do not know the whole path, I trust the Lord enough to just

walk in what he has for me. I can look back over the course of this journey of faith

and see the goodness of the Lord’s hand guiding and leading my family here. I

know with certainty that the Lord is still leading us on this unknown road, and we

continue on in faith.

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