Nov. 29, 2019
Coming in January 2020, the 25th book written and published by Steve Martin, will contain 32 chapters, over 50 photos, and good stories of the ahava (love in Hebrew) adventure that the four of us took together in Israel.
Following is the INTRODUCTION that will be in the book.
It all started back in October 2018 when I made, what I thought was going to be the finishing one, my last trip to Israel. Since my inceptive journey in 1987 with the first ministry I served with, Mahesh Chavda Ministries (living at the time in Fort Lauderdale, Florida), I had since that time made 19 trips to the Holy Land, the Promised Land of the Jews. This October 2018 trip was my 20th, and just prior to going I had decided it would be my last.
A few months ahead of this trip, discouragement had come upon me, and I felt I could no longer continue the work of the ministry, Love For His People, which my good wife Laurie and I had founded in April 2010. That had been, quite literally, following the inspiration of the Lord Jesus, after I had continually cried out to Him for many years, wanting “my own vineyard.” It was a dream of myself, like others, to be “fulltime” in ministry, but after the longevity serving under the leadership of others, I longed for my own.
That can happen to one after serving long and hard for and with three other well-known men (and their wives) in their ministries (Derek and Ruth Prince, Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda, Barry and Batya Segal). For a total of 24 years. With the counting of the years 8, 14, and 5, respectively, it won’t add up, for adding it up as is totals more. But to properly explain further, in two cases there were some overlapping years, helping two at one time. Thus, the grand total in years was accurately 24.
During those years, I so often, so wanted to take my own bags to the airport and jet off to the foreign lands, sharing the Good News to others. But it wasn’t the time yet. If only I had known then what I was to know later.
With one particular ministry, I counted (being the accountant that I am) that I had transported the healing evangelist and his wife to either the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, or Charlotte, North Carolina airport over 400 times – there and back – in the 14 years I was with them.
“When is it my turn, O Lord.” My pleas seemed to go unheard. Ever been there?
Then “that time” came. The new ministry began. And over the course of the next 9 years, through the grace given by the Lord, I labored. I worked. I did what I knew to do to get a new ministry off the ground, growing and touching lives. But with little income coming in, outside of that which two members of our immediate family provided along with myself, I had to go back working with other ministries as a “laborer in their vineyards” again, to pay the home mortgage and car payments.
Sometimes you get weary trying to do good, even though the Bible encourages us not to.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10, NASU
I was going to quit trying. No immediate, or long-term, fruit was being seen from these earthly eyes. Even the writing and publishing of 20 books over that same period didn’t seem to bring the expected results I surely knew was supposed to happen.
So, when I met for a dinner gathering with another dear friend, Cathy Hargett, and her ministry tour group of Highway To Zion, at the Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem, just across from the valley having Oskar Schindler’s gravesite on the other side, I publicly told them that this was my last trip. I was never coming back.
But never say never. You have heard that before. It is true.
Oh, how the Lord loves us. Oh, how He leads us in His paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Oh, how He directs our steps and leads us in the way we are to go. He is Faithful, and He who called us is ever True. He does not ever give up on us.
Sometime during the latter part of those 10 days in October 2018, walking by myself down the ancient streets of Jerusalem’s Old City to visit friends and familiar sites; traversing the bustling sidewalks and side streets of the new portions since 1948 when Israel’s declared its independence as a nation once again; or riding the light rail train from Jaffa Street to theend-of-the-line drop off point, near the Yad Vashem’s (Holocaust Museum) entrance, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. It was a clear word, though not audibly. But being His friend too, I knew it was Him.
“This is not your last trip to Jerusalem. In fact, from now on you will be coming twice a year.”
“I will?” I responded skeptically, internally. “And if so, then You are going to have to help me pay for it. I cannot.”
“You do as I say out of obedience. I will take care of the provision.” He made sure I understood what He had just said, with a firm, “make sure you get this” response, but with plenty of hope, faith, and love covering His words.
That was then. And today, as I write these first words of my next prophesied book (#25!) on September 11, 2019, Wednesday early morning at my home near south Charlotte, North Carolina (the day when Americans remember the attack of 9-11, 18 years later), the plans have been tediously put together for my 22nd trip back to Israel, and our Lord’s beloved city of Jerusalem, it’s capital, and His chosen people dwelling there.
And coming along with me this time are three other men.
I will tell you that story as time goes by, as you read of the “rest of the story” – as Paul Harvey, the Chicago area radio and TV man, liked to say decades ago.
But here is just an inkling of what is to come.
When I got each of their passports to provide the required information by airlines for foreign travelers, I was quite amazed. Before my eyes were the names of Gregory Louis, David Louis, and myself, Steven Louis. These were the first three. And the fourth? Well, that would be Lathan E., whom I then knighted with the middle name “E-Louis” just to make it perfect.
What a delight to then find out a few months later, when we all gathered at Gregory Louis’ home for a great cook-out dinner he most graciously provided, along with his good wife Irene, that Lathan E.’s father’s name is Louis.
Now isn’t that just like our good Lord.
And as a side note, when asked by my sister Mary Louise Smith what “Louis” means, I looked it up. French for “famous in battle”.
Yes, Lord, the Mighty One on His White Horse!