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It’s been years ago now, but I could still pick her face out of a crowd. She was a pretty lady with frosty blond hair, sharp features, and green eyes. I envisioned her as having a pretty smile, which proved to be the case some months later when she smiled for the first time. Her story began with an argument she had with her husband, an argument that led to her stormy departure from the house in search of a place to vent her rage — a rural honkytonk. We were sitting in my office, and as she sobbed, talking in great gulps, she sank lower into the cushions of the couch. Finally, sitting on the floor between the coffee table and sofa, her knees drawn close to her chest, she told me how she had been dragged out of her car and into the bar that night, thrown onto the barroom counter, stripped naked and raped.

She was bruised and wounded in every way, crying from a dungeon of guilt and despair. If I put my hand on her shoulder she shrank in distrust; if her eyes met mine, they darted for cover. For several weeks I worked with her, and as though she were a shy child afraid of a stranger, I slowly laid the shiny, many-colored wonders of the Father’s love, healing, and hope before her. After a particularly intense session, I asked her to spend a few minutes in our office prayer room pouring her heart out to the Lord and telling Him of her desperate need. Without warning, she ran from the prayer room and wrapped her arms around my neck (and office chair) from behind! For a moment I wondered if I was being strangled in a fit of frenetic madness or whether this move was inadvertent from sheer joy. Praise the Lord, it was the latter! God had broken through her agony and used the words of counsel and His Spirit to bring healing to her life.

For what rough figures are worth, I calculate that Bill, Anabel (Dad and Mom), and I have cumulatively spent over 22,000 hours counseling in the last fifteen years; and that’s on a formal basis… never mind the talk over telephones, coffee cups and dinner. Not every hour was as emotional, or rewarding, as the one described above, but nearly all of them were as intense: there was the call late one evening telling us that "Susan" had killed herself. We were numbed, left asking the standard questions: Why? How can this be? What happened? On another occasion three District Attorneys sat in my office pumping me with questions. One of my counselees had murdered his wife, and they wanted to know what, if anything, I knew. Through it all, our understanding of the enemy’s tactics and God’s plans have been clarified and solidified. It is our ambition to share these insights with you.

Not all of our history is as dramatic as the episodes I’ve related here. No doubt you remember the stories of shelves, closet doors, and bicycle brakes told by mom and dad. There is an experience behind everything we share, either from counseling or something personal that has happened to us. We try to stay away from sermons and stick with the messages God has built into our lives.

Lifetime Guarantee is bigger now than when we were a counseling office. Our budget this year is around $375,000; five families are supported through this work, two books have been published with a third due this year, thousands of tapes — both audio and video — are sold each year, and "Lifetime Guarantee," a national radio broadcast produced by Mike Middleton, is now heard on nearly 50 stations. In March, Mike, Bill, and Anabel did a one hour talk show on a local radio station with a listening audience estimated around 50,000. The message was clear and incisive: Christ wants to be the Lord of your life. Regardless of whether you are successful at living your life or a miserable flop, God is evaluating your eternal success in terms of your methodology: if you are trusting Christ to live through you, then you are in good shape; if not, the fire is going to get it. Success has nothing to do with results, but everything to do with methodology. Abe and I were covered up with phone calls as the program ended.

Our message is simple, rudimentary: it is the gospel of Jesus in you and you in Him, accessible to a seven-year-old and available to anyone who chooses to let Christ be his Lord. It’s a message for parents racing to keep pace with the curiosity curve of their two-year-old; it’s the confidence that comes from knowing you are trusting Christ as CEO of a corporation; it’s the hope for the heart broken by rejection and the shipwrecked life groping for acceptance; it’s security for the twelve-year-old trying to find his niche in the world and face down fear in the school’s corridors; it’s the off ramp for the sixteen-year-old (or forty-six-year-old) ruminating on sex in the fast lane. Quite simply, Lifetime Guarantee is about practical principles in everyday Christian living. Over the last three months we have spent hours talking about the goals of LGI. Where we are going and how we are going to get there are critically important to us. By and large the Christian community is experiencing escalating stress from a variety of sources. More than ever before we want to keep calling it as we see it, laying the cards on the table, and getting down to the bottom line of life as Christians.

In last month’s ministry letter, Dad shared rather extensively about my younger brother, Mason. I know you sensed the pain we suffered due to Mason’s short life, but I hope you were blessed by the message of hope shared through Mason’s testimony. The month before that, I wrote about the reality of the church not always being everything it is supposed to be and offered some suggestions, hacked out of personal experience, about how to respond to those short falls. In the September 1989 issue we labored over writing a special letter on our financial needs, and you responded resoundingly with contributions, prayer, and encouragement. There have been a couple of other short paydays recently, but we know the Lord will meet the needs according to His timing. Whatever the issue is on our hearts, we want nothing more than to communicate this to you in simplicity, timeliness, and the power of God’s Spirit.

For example, the new ministry letter design that you are reading right now has greater visual impact than the old format. Besides costing less than the old style, it creates additional space, enhances readability, and increases the perceived value of each issue. That means more folks read it with greater interest and retention. What else is on tap for the ministry in the near future?

  • We are working to diversify our financial base by enhancing our current ministry products as well as developing some new tools. This will provide more effective ministry and create greater financial stability.
  • We are trusting the Lord to impress more people to invest in this work, thus helping to distribute and dilute the financial burden.
  • We are committed to scuttling complexities and maintaining a message that addresses the basic needs of Christians today. This will ensure Lifetime Guarantee’s ability to respond rapidly and effectively in a relevant manner.

God has placed us on the cutting edge of what He is doing in people’s lives today. You and I are truly making a difference through this ministry. What an honor! A letter crossed my desk today…I want to let you read it:

"I’m sure you get letters like this all the time, but I felt like I had to write and tell you personally. You have ministered to my husband and me so much. Your message on the victorious Christian life (found on The Life Video) has been a turning point in my life as a Christian. …I had reached a point in my life where everything was beginning to sound and feel the same, and of course, I was acting the same. I was starting to question this so called "Christian life." …I was determined to get it right; you know, live the right life, be a joyful Christian, walk around smiling like I’d seen these other ladies at church doing; but somehow things didn’t work out that way…." Her letter goes on to tell how, through the video seminar, she came to understand that God isn’t "millions of light years away. He’s right inside, wanting to live His life through me.

Letters like this are encouraging. They excite us about the plans God has given us for ministry. Sure, things are tight right now, but the Lord is faithful. He hasn’t led us this far to walk away any more than He’s led you to your current place in life to bail out on you. He has filled our offices with staff committed to ministry and blessed each of us with unique talents and abilities. He is going to continue His work through Lifetime Guarantee, and we know He’s going to further our ministry to you and yours to us. The message burning in our hearts is fueled by our Father, and truly, it is a message with a "Lifetime Guarantee."

Preston Gillham

About the Author

As a co-founder, Preston Gillham led Lifetime for 30 years. Preston is a writer, speaker, and leadership guide. He has authored numerous articles and several books including No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower. He blogs on “Life and Leadership”. More about Preston, his writings, speaking, and his consulting practice can be located at PrestonGillham.com.