The Life Lessons of Ron Pearce

Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast series that answers all of your missions related questions. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce.

Joy- Hi guys, welcome!

Ron, Charis- Hi!

Joy- Okay, I’m going to change things up a bit Ron. I know you don’t like to talk about yourself very often but my question today is how did you get started in ministry? How did you end up at Empower, basically?

Ron- Okay, well this goes back a long, long ways.

Joy- A looong time!

Ron- I was born.

Charis {laughter} We are starting at the very beginning.

Ron- I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada, I was born into a Christian home, evangelical background, went to church growing up as a little guy and I can tell you this, I have always loved Jesus. I cannot remember a day when I didn’t love Jesus and wanted to live for him. So that was bred into me, I didn’t rebel, most people go through rebellious times, I didn’t.

Joy- You didn’t at all?

Ron- I didn’t at all, I was as skim milk as you could ever imagine! It’s just a matter that it seems stupid to rebel against God. Why would you rebel against God? He has all the cards!

Joy- You are very special.

Ron- Well, no, it just wasn’t logical. I feel like I’m a Vulcan Spock or something, this isn’t logical so I didn’t rebel. And then after that, it was a matter of going through Bible school, I felt called to Bible school. It was funny because I was headed into law, university, I was going to be a lawyer, people said I was great at arguing and, therefore, I should become a lawyer. God got ahold of me one time at a meeting in a church, it was a missions meeting, I felt the call of God to go to Bible school and to missions basically, at the same time. The missions one deepened after a while but I knew very well I had to be a Christian worker, pastor, whatever the case may be. Then went to Bible school and that is when things started to change. It was in my second and third year that I became very dissatisfied with what I saw in church. Not rebellion against God, but I saw an emptiness, I saw a staleness, there was just a lackadaisical going through the motions a lot of times. So I started to analyze what was being said and this wasn’t a people thing, this was an environment that I thought, there is something wrong here. Because I read in the book of Acts and in the Bible and there is an electricity, an enthusiasm, and the more I got to study of the Word in Bible school the more I started to say man, there is something else out there. There is something out there! And that is when God brought into my life a man by the name of Garth Hunt and he was a missionary, came home from Vietnam, this was back in 1972, and he, haha, at the time I was dating his daughter okay, so I was sort of close to the family in some regards. So this one time I remember, he was famous, he was the most decorated civilian in the Vietnam war, he was preaching the Gospel throughout Vietnam, he was a great preacher, knew his Bible, intense! A sense of humor was lacking but I could live with that.

Joy- So he was a missionary?

Ron- Yeah, he was a missionary.

Charis- His wife would have Bible studies with the president’s wife in Vietnam so they were very well known in Vietnam.

Ron- Oh yeah, he was in the palace all the time as a missionary and you know I would go down in his basement and saw all the medals on the wall, all the paraphernalia, then he would tell me about the revival in Vietnam. This revival in Vietnam was massive! This is when it was like the book of Acts in the tribal regions and many of the missionaries were touched by God and lifted in their own personal revivals. When I heard it I thought, this is what I’ve been looking for! Then I went on a quest for God and a deeper walk with God, I’m not going to get into all the details of that but God met me and found me and lifted me to a different level of experience and it was something that I could never fully explain. And yet, at the same time, I was brought to my knees and I felt like Isaiah 6, where it says: Woe is me for I am undone, I am a man of unclean lips and live amongst the people of unclean lips. And then it was like I felt that way and then God taking the fire from the alter and touching my lips, my personality changed at that time, seriously changed. People noticed it. I remember my mom, I came home just right after that, it was a Sunday afternoon when really this crisis moment in my life came and I went home and my mom looked at me and she said, What happened to you?” I didn’t say a word, not a word.

I feel like I’m a Vulcan Spock or something, this isn’t logical so I didn’t rebel.

Joy- Were you in Bible School at this time?

Ron- I was in Bible school. She just looked at me and said, What happened to you?” And I thought, okay, something is different. And after that things did change, my outlook changed, my views, I knew where I was going, I knew what intensity was, I had discovered the concept although I didn’t have it fully filled out in my mind yet, what the word bondservant means, and that is where that came from. And then I moved along that pathway and then met Nancy at Bible school and we became friends and we became lifelong partners in marriage and everything like that.

Charis- Mom also wanted to go to Vietnam as a missionary, on her own.

Ron- And we better mention that because she always mentions that!

Charis- Just in case she listens, we have to make sure! {laughter}

Ron- The only reason she was coming along and getting married to me was because I was going to Vietnam as a missionary!

Joy- Apparently, yes, I just heard that! {laughter}

Ron- I know, I know, and I didn’t even know that until last night sort of thing. So anyway, the two of us both experienced this outpouring of the Spirit in our own lives and then we went through the stages of having a home service, I was a youth pastor and then the denomination that I belonged to at that time that I was ordained with decided we wouldn’t be good on the mission field because we were a little too, how do I put this, spiritually aggressive in our walk with the Holy Spirit and, therefore, they thought it would be better if we stayed at home, they didn’t want to disrupt the mission field. And so we said, Okay.” So we stayed at home, then we went to this little place in Ontario.

Joy- Where you disrupted the church services?

Ron- Well, no, we wouldn’t disrupt, but our presence there with our beliefs, which were fully in line with their denominational beliefs was fine, it was not that, it was the fact that having it on paper is one thing, living it out and preaching it is another and they thought we were a little too aggressive in that and that was their choice and I don’t hold it against them now, at the time I was heartbroken but not now. Therefore, we went to church and we started with eight people in Sarnia, Ontario, and a school and it grew very quickly, in a couple of years we had 455 people.

Charis- How old were you at that time? That fascinated me.

Ron- Oh I was 25? 24 or 25 years old.

Charis- And you went from a church of 8 to 455?

Ron- 455, I still remember that because I went Wow!” That was really something when we would pack the place out, the place that we were worshiping in.

Joy- Do you have any thoughts on how it grew so quickly or why? Besides God’s touch?

Ron- I worked hard, I worked too hard looking back, my wife Nancy, she did a great job of holding the family together and it was tough on her. She is as much to be proud of for keeping it together and keeping the family together because I was always working. I was visiting people, preaching, winning people to the Lord in the front rooms of their homes at two in the morning. We just had people coming from everywhere. It was really an aggressive church and the environment was one of electricity. Worship services, people drove in for worship services in those days and they came home early from holidays just to be part of church.

Joy- It was what that area needed at the time and it has spring fed into other churches since.

Ron- It was, yeah, and you know we were there for a while, we moved on, and then long story, we’re trying to make it short here, I know this is a long story!

Joy- It’s fascinating!

Ron- We left that church for various reasons and then we were approached by Dr. Hunt, Garth Hunt, my spiritual mentor and he says, Ron I need help with the organization that I’ve got, we are taking Bibles, Living Bibles International, Living Bibles are going all over the world and I need help.” He says, Can you help me?” At that time I was working for an insurance company and I thought I’m so bored making money, seriously, I was making scads of money.

Charis- And not enjoying it at all!

Ron- Not enjoying it at all, I was so frustrated that I wasn’t in the ministry. Now in that time, we were going down to Last Days Ministries, we were speaking there at Keith Green’s operations, we were doing Jesus festivals in Canada and you know, stuff of that nature. So we weren’t idle but it just wasn’t right, there was something missing again. I look at it like you know these machines where the ball keeps getting bounced around, pinball! Pinball machines, I felt like God had the bumpers, his fingers on the bumpers, the whackers, and we were the pinball in there going boing, boing, boing,” and bells were going off and everything like that and He was just bouncing us around. I even give council to the native people, let yourself be that ball on that pinball machine, let God bounce you around, He knows where He wants you to go, and the bells and the whistles will go off and they did with us! So we got involved with that, that was back in 1989, and then it just took off and we got involved with all these national churches around the world, we did a bit of a change back in 2004, and then Empower Ministries came about and we took off with that and it’s grown and we are just blessed, we are blessed. Sometimes people say to me how can we pray for you and everything like that and I know I should make a list of these things and I get so overwhelmed when I’m telling people what God is doing around the world, I literally forget about my needs, I sort of disappear. And I’m sitting around the table listening to people and what God is doing here, and then they flip the switch and they say, How shall we pray for you?” And I’m sitting there thinking I’m in great shape! There’s nothing you know, I can’t think of anything major and I just go blank. It’s the weirdest thing and I know I shouldn’t so I decided I’m going to write out a list ahead of time of stuff that I need prayer for. People ask me this all the time, what shall we pray for and literally I go blank! And I’m so embarrassed afterwards because people can get the feeling oh, he’s conceited, there is nothing wrong with him, he’s perfect. It’s not that!

Joy- Just pray for your kids, they could always use it.

Charis- Thanks!

Ron- It’s not perfection, it’s the fact that I lose myself in what God is doing around the world and in comparison to the problems of the national church and the victories that are being won and all the good stuff that’s going on out there. I’m just talking about it and I’m sitting there going, me, oh yeah, me, what do I need?

Charis- You also don’t like talking about yourself. I mean, even to record this podcast…

Joy- We had to force it, let’s face it.

Charis- Yeah, so, and we’re just talking about your past! But you just don’t like talking about yourself so it’s not a conceited thing it’s just you would much rather, and you are much more comfortable, talking about the national church and what God is doing than what is going on with you.

At that time I was working for an insurance company and I thought I’m so bored making money, seriously, I was making scads of money.

Ron- A bondservant is basically a slave and a slave is never asked by the master shall we say, you know, talk about yourself. A slave serves and the bondservant is one who has dedicated himself to serve the master. So what do we talk about? We talk about the master, we talk about the master’s children, we talk about the master’s work, we talk about all of these things and just over the years, I have not even thought about it. When a problem comes up and they come up periodically, health-wise or family or I don’t know, flights can be a problem, covid, you know, things come up and I sit there and I think this too shall pass and everything is going to be okay, the end is all determined, I can rest in God, he’s going to take care of me, I am his servant. He will take care of everything in my life, I’m on that machine, he’s got the flippers and I don’t have to worry about anything. Therefore, I just sort of relax and in that relaxation I’m sometimes misunderstood and it’s really something I’ve got to kind of work on because I don’t mean to come across that way, I just do.

Joy- Do you think you’re misunderstood, do you feel that way sometimes?

Ron- Yeah, sometimes I do and it’s just because now that I’ve been at this for so long and I’ve seen God do so much around the world and I see Him with all these other people that are suffering and I look at the national church and all the guys I know and every day I learn things. I just learned, I just learned yesterday one of the leaders in the world, he told me this, wrote it to me, a story in India, how he was taken in, captured and they threatened him with death, harassed and beat him I guess, or something like that, for preaching the Gospel and he’s got tens of thousands of churches now. He never talked about that! I’m one of his best friends I think! He never told me this story and I thought wow, this was really something! I didn’t know you went through that! It doesn’t matter, I don’t need to talk about it. And when we’re with national pastors around the world and I’m sitting there and talking about and asking for their testimonies, what is God doing in your life, what is going on in your church and they don’t want to talk about it simply because they think that it is giving glory to them and taking it away from the Lord. I’ve got to pull the stories out of them!

Joy- Because these are the stories we want!

Ron- Exactly! And I’ve got to pull it out of them simply because they think it’s bragging and they don’t even consider themselves as important. Those are the people that I want to be around, those are the people that are really changing the world. And you can misconstrue it and misunderstand them as well and I just don’t want to do that.

Charis- And it’s also been a learning process for you too, you’re kind of torn because you live in the partners around the world, in their lives but you also live here in North America, and that process of, it’s kind of like a culture shock, not necessarily a culture shock for traveling but it’s two totally different forms of what daily Christianity is like over there versus coming back here. I remember it was a process for you to try and work through that.

Joy- Oh my goodness, it must be!

Ron- At the beginning, remember at the beginning?

Charis- I do!

Ron- I walked into something called Woolco back in the old days, I think it changed to Walmart or something, anyway, Woolco was a department store and I remember getting off the plane coming from Southeast Asia and India, walking into Woolco and I’m looking around at items and I would walk over and I would look at a bar of soap and I would say to myself, that bar of soap costs $2.25, that could buy four souls. And I would walk through the aisles and everything I was equating with the opportunities of winning somebody to the Lord. That could feed a family in Vietnam for a month, that could do this, and I would just walk through the store and my eyes were in a totally different space. And I’m sitting there thinking I have to stop this, I’ve got to be able to make that shift from what God is doing back here and then being able to shift gears when I get on an airplane.

Joy- Because your family is not going with you and you definitely had to make that transition.

Ron- Oh no, it’s true and it was a mental thing that I had to get over and a spiritual thing but I had great counsel by the guys overseas and they said, Listen, Ron, we both live in different standards of living.” He said, Don’t try to live like a pauper and sacrifice everything so that your children suffer. You live in that society in that standard of living where you are in North America and we live over here much lower, we’re not complaining, you’re not complaining.” But he says, If you have the ability to help us out and take the Gospel to the people in our area we would appreciate the help. But we are not looking at you and begrudging you anything.”

Joy- That must have been a great relief.

Ron- I still remember it, Pastor Joseph from India sat me down and just straightened me out and he just told me the way it was and you know, I was older but it was a shock to me and it was sort of like God dumping a whole bunch of reality out of a bucket over top of me and saying this is the world and I’m sitting there thinking yeah, I know but how do I handle this? And I really didn’t know and that is why everything started to change at that point in time and I started to have to be able to communicate the stories without putting guilt into the stories. Because I didn’t want to throw guilt on people over here for being successful and for God blessing our society here in North America because it’s a Judeo-Christian background shall we say and so there is so much of the Gospel that has built our countries in the West that we’re thankful for it, we don’t want to belittle it at all. And so here I am trying to adjust so I can preach on a Sunday. Sometimes I’d get home on a Friday or Saturday and I’d be in a pulpit on Sunday morning. I pity the people at the beginning that I spoke to. Seriously, I was filled with enthusiasm that was unbridled but I’m afraid there might have been an edge of judgment and it shouldn’t have been. If anybody is listening to this right now that I did that to, I really apologize, that was bad of me because that is not what I meant to do. We all live in our certain situations and God takes care of us in those situations. Don’t try to do it, I’m the communicator, I’m the one that has to change, my problem.

Joy- Well, Empower has really been now birthed and built out of all of your experiences. We need the blessings of North America to bless the nationals.

Ron- So that is the, what is that machine again?

Charis- Pinball machine.

Ron- Pinball, I can’t remember!

Joy- Our younger listeners are not going to know what a pinball machine is.

Ron- Oh yeah, I saw it the other day in one of these retro places! Anyway, this is the value of the pinball machine and understanding that that is our lives. Many people don’t want to get into that machine and be that ball, they want to be in control of their own destiny. I would encourage young people especially, don’t be afraid to get into the pinball machine and don’t be afraid to let God direct you. This is something I get asked all the time, Should I be in ministry?” Well, yeah, should I go for education in ministry, seminary, Bible school, something like that, ministry school, I say, Yeah sure, good.” I say, Let God guide you around from situation to situation, grow as much as you can.” I’m the one that probably tells people more than anything else, don’t get trapped in a system. That is probably the greatest thing that I can share with young people today is trying to give them the idea that God is in control, God will give them the path to go on. And with that, I think I will say goodbye for today.

Thanks, girls, God bless you and for those out there listening at home, I pray that these stories about the way my life was managed, and the way God led me can give you hope for the future and give you an idea that all things are possible with God. Take care.

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