from The Story Matters - compiled by Tammie Price
Now what would you think someone would do next to start up a ministry? Well, for me and John Wayne, we went fishing! John Wayne was an avid fisherman, and both he and I loved traveling down to Santee Cooper to go fishing for catfish. So on June 6, 2001, we headed down to Santee on a fishing trip that would soon turn into a mission. During this four-hour trip, I decided to use the time to read over several manuals I had received from a lady who had been running a maternity home for twenty-plus years. While studying, an idea suddenly hit me. I asked my husband, “Now, John Wayne, if God is going to do this–and He has to, because we don’t have the resources, and we don’t have a house–and if this is something that we are supposed to have in our community, then God is going to have to do it. Do you think we could sell tickets and have a fish fry?”
He said, “You can sell catfish, but you couldn’t sell other fish.”
While discussing this idea, John Wayne asked me just how many plates we would have to sell to raise enough money to begin. I quickly grabbed a piece of paper and jotted down some figures and came up with 250 plates. John Wayne exclaimed, “Two hundred and fifty plates! Who is going to catch all those fish, and better yet, who is going to cook them?”
I knew that I was probably looking for a miracle for both of those things to happen, but I was willing to step out in faith and give it a try. Still on the road, we called Tommy and Bonnie Boyd, who were great friends of ours and also powerful prayer partners. After we briefly shared the fish fry idea with them, we asked them to pray in agreement with us that we would catch an average of fifty fish a day. That way, we could host the fish fry and sell enough tickets to cover the start-up cost of the ministry. We felt that if this was something God wanted us to do, then we should not use our own money, for two simple reasons: One, our money would run out pretty quickly, and two, if this WAS a calling from God, then HE would send the provision.
We arrived at the lower lake of Santee around one o’clock that afternoon and stopped in at Harry’s Fish Camp. Santee Cooper is a huge body of water with an upper lake and a lower lake with a canal running between them. John Wayne liked fishing in the lower lake because it was less challenging to stay anchored and less dangerous when the wind was blowing. I remember that it was a beautiful day, and I thought it would be just perfect for fishing. First, we pulled in to the store in order to check in and get our room key. I was not expecting to engage in a conversation with Mike, the owner. Mike is a very busy man and doesn’t usually have time for chit-chat when customers enter the store. However, that day, even before he had time to look at our reservations, he asked, “How long are y’all going to be here?” I told him that our reservations were for a week. He nonchalantly said, “Well good, maybe you will catch some fish by the end of the week. No one is catching fish right now, but by the end of the week they should be biting.”
“That is not good news,” I replied.
He said, “The moon is not right for good fishing.”
His advice could have burst my bubble like a needle puncturing a balloon, but I really believed this fish fry idea was from God; and I knew that, if it was from God, then the fish would bite before the end of the week….
If you want to know how this fish story turned out, reserve your copy of The Story Matters.