A Testimony by Bob and Joy Burney
[“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry … And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus… Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”- 1 Tim. 1:12,14,17]
It was 1973 and my wife and I were blessed with an extremely successful Youth Ministry in Wichita, Kansas. If anyone were to look at us – we were the picture of what a young couple in ministry should look like. The reality was quite different. I was completely miserable, frustrated and empty inside. I had been raised in a wonderful Christian home, had a degree in Christian Education, had a growing and exciting youth ministry – and was miserable. I was at the point of leaving the ministry when my wife and I heard of a conference in Denver, Colorado at Grace Fellowship International. After registering, I told my wife that if we didn’t “find something that worked” at this conference, I was going to go back to Wichita and resign the ministry. We certainly found something that “worked.” For the first time in my Christian life, I began to understand that my marriage, my ministry, my entire life had been centered, not in the power of Christ, but in the strength of my flesh. I had a “funeral” there in Denver and buried my self-life, while accepting my identity in the finished work of the Cross.
I began to devour anything I could find on The Cross. My life changed, our marriage changed, my ministry changed – everything changed as we learned to daily live at the Cross. It would be a “perfect” story if I could tell you we rode off into the sunset and lived happily ever after. That would be far less than true.
God led us in a very specific way to move to Columbus, Ohio in 1976 to plant a new church. The entire experience of giving birth to this new work was surrounded by miracles and God’s obvious blessing. As we built the church, we taught the Cross. Identity in Christ permeated all we did – and God blessed. As years passed, our family and ministry grew. The Cross was certainly never forgotten but became something we “taught” but did not experience.
In God’s infinite wisdom, He allowed our family to go through what we have often refer to as the “seven years from Hell.” With three teenagers, the pressures of ministry and the reality of the Cross becoming more and more distant – we found ourselves in a hopeless, downward spiral. Dysfunction became “normal” and despair became our constant companion. We were literally sinking in a sea of strife, bitterness and defeat. Our marriage was on the edge of destruction, our family was torn apart, and our ministry was about to be ripped from our hands.
It was there, in the deep, dark valley that we once again came to “the end.” In spite of all the “knowledge,” the Cross was no longer a reality – just a memory. When we finally ceased from our own selfish struggles, the truth of the Cross came rushing back into our hearts. My wife and I each reached our “bottom” within days of each other, and God began the wonderful, healing process that only the Cross can bring.
We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Never, never would that have been possible without the transforming power of the Cross. We simply could not escape those wonderful truths that we first learned at Grace Fellowship so many years ago.
Nine years ago we established CrossPower Ministries to share our brokenness and victory with other “selfers.” We are a living testimony to the Power of the Cross. Our family was healed, our marriage was healed, and we stand continually amazed at the fact that God loves to bring victory out of ashes – at the foot of the Cross.
Bob and Joy Burney’s web site is http://www.crosspower.net/. They will be speaking at the marriage conference for Faith Baptist Church in Wheelersburg, Ohio on Feb. 26-27, 2010. His radio program, Bob Burney Live! – can be heard in Real Audio or streaming audio at www.WRFD.com
This testimony is featured in a soon-to-be-published book, edited by Dr. Charles Solomon, titled From Pastors to Pastors: Testimonies of Revitalized Ministries.