This week, I would like to introduce a letter from my parents, Jim and Carolyn Welton! They have recently stepped into the position of overseeing the Welton Tribe, a ministry of Welton Academy. I will let you find out more from them!
Dr. Jonathan Welton
As the relational leaders of the Welton Tribe (Network), we, Jim and Carolyn Welton (parents of Dr. Jonathan Welton), will be communicating with you on a monthly basis. We are looking forward to building meaningful relationships, and we hope you will come to know that you are loved by us and that we are touchable and authentic. Some of you were with us for the Network Dinner 2014, but unfortunately, not all of you could make the trip.
For the sake of those who were not able to be with us that night, we are sending our speeches from that night, in which we attempted to share some of what is in our hearts.
But before we get to the speeches, we’d like to add a few thoughts.
Several years ago we were asked to come into the pastor’s office; he had some questions for us. “How is it that every small group or new ministry you lead grows so much and the people seem so eager to be involved?” he asked. “What do you do to make this happen?”
Reflecting back on those questions, we have realized that growth is not so much about having the right programs (although they are certainly helpful). Growth is about who you are as a person and how authentically you love people. People know if they are loved and accepted. They can feel it. They love to be around you. They feel better about themselves just by spending time with you. They believe in themselves more. They have more confidence to take that next step. They can sense that you don’t look down on them, and they are free to be themselves. No performance needed. Neither is it necessary for you to talk about your failures. If you have been through hard times and embraced the grace of God to work in your life, people will feel comfortable around you.
There is a great desire in people to belong—to be accepted just as they are. The theme song from the old television show, Cheers, had a line in it that said, “I want to go some place where everybody knows my name.” Implied in this is the desire to be accepted for who we are.
Just after 2000, a well-known prophet prophesied over us that one specific thing the Lord liked so much about us was that we had accepted and loved every single person He had sent our way. We had not passed over anyone. We had not looked down on anyone. But rather, we had welcomed each one with open arms and hearts, and we had treated all with fairness and respect. We pray this will be what you grow to experience in our relationship with you, and we hope you will pass that same heart on to those with whom you come in contact.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. (1 Corinthians 1:26)
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6)
These verses speak to the heart of this matter. Not many of us are famous, wealthy, or powerful by this world’s standards, but in Him we are able and capable of doing all He asks of us. We can and should be good representatives of His love for others. Let us be encouraged to continue showing the love of the Father to all with whom we come in contact. By His grace, we can and we will. Remember, we are able ministers of a better covenant!
Speech given at Network Dinner May 15, 2014
by Rev. Jim R. Welton
It is my honor to be with all of you tonight. It has always been my honor to be the father of our four children, and now to have Him expand that fatherhood to the worldwide Welton Tribe is an honor beyond words.
I want to thank you for receiving me. And it is my hope that by the grace of God, I will be able to be a true representation of our Father in Heaven. It is my hope that every one who is here with us tonight, as well as those who could not be here, will have such an encounter with Him and His truth that we will all find His path and His destiny for our lives.
I look forward to walking together with all of you who choose to connect with the Welton Tribe. It is my hope that we may enter into all Jesus Christ has provided for us and that we will leave nothing untouched.
As I grew up in a home with five other siblings, my Christian mother made sure we all were at church for every Sunday morning and evening meeting and every Wednesday evening prayer meeting—whether we wanted to go or not! It was many, many years after I had moved out, married, and become a father before my own father gave his life to Christ, but he never objected nor stood in the way of our family attending church.
Through the years, I have experienced a great variety of churches. While still at home, we attended an Assembly of God, a Bible Baptist, and an independent demon-chasing church. You can imagine the multitude of stories I have to tell about all sorts of things! One that I will mention took place at the Bible Baptist church we attended for three years while I was a young teenager. After the first year of my regular attendance, the Sunday School teacher addressed the class regarding how they had been treating me. I had no idea she had even noticed, but she went on to share with them that she had observed that no one had reached out to me to even be friendly toward me. Then she went on to share about how this was no way to act toward or treat someone. Because of this one lady’s sensitivity to my young life, I have become so much more sensitive to other people and how they may or may not feel a part. This story speaks to the heart of one factor in the Welton Tribe’s DNA, and that is to love, accept, and befriend every person in the Body of Christ—not just those who are our friends. Too often churches have cliques, and new people have a hard time finding their way in. They do not feel welcomed and included. We do not want this sad sort of story told about any of us.
At age seventeen, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues, and that launched me out of my comfort zone. It brought me a great amount of confidence and eagerness. Soon after that, I became a student of a local Bible school, where I met and married my wife, and we both graduated in 1972.
My wife is going to share some of our experiences in Christianity through the years, so I will leave that to her. She and I have been married forty-three years on May 29th, so we have the same stories, and we can finish one another’s sentences.
Skipping way ahead to the most recent past, a much-needed interruption in our lives happened when we came in contact with someone named Randy Clark of Global Awakening. At that time, we came alive to the fact of divine healing—not just the verses we had learned in Bible school but actually laying hands on people and seeing them be healed. This has changed my life dramatically. I have had the privilege of traveling several times to Mexico, Germany, and Uganda, as well as Ukraine and the UK. And each trip has given the opportunity to see healings, salvations, and deliverances while being able to teach pastors and leaders more about walking in the supernatural realm. This is another factor of the Welton Tribe’s DNA. We believe in worldwide evangelism through the use of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
We are so glad to be asked to be here with you folks and to lead this network. We look forward to becoming better acquainted with each of you and to experiencing together what God is going to do in the days ahead. Since I have just recently retired from my full-time employment on November 30th, 2013, we have been busy making all the decisions and adjustments that go along with that. But now that the dust is beginning to settle and we can see some light at the end of the tunnel, we hope we will be able to spend much more time furthering His Kingdom.
Speech from Network Dinner May 15, 2014
by Rev. Carolyn L. Welton
As I stand here tonight, I reflect on how Abraham and Sarah might have felt as they first held baby Isaac in their arms. He was the fulfillment of the promise that they had waited and believed for all those many years. He was a demonstration of God’s faithfulness, and he held within him the hope for the future. We have waited and believed for over forty years to see this night and to hold this night in our arms. We have had direct encounters with God, as well as prophecies given by well-respected men and women of God. And just like Abraham and Sarah, we have experienced both times of faith and times of doubt. It is said in Romans that Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. On the other hand, it is also told that Abraham and Sarah conspired together to bring the promise of God to pass on their own. We have believed God year after year after year, and we, too, have had times when we took things into our own hands to try to bring His promises to pass. Then, like Abraham and Sarah, we have had to experience the confusion, turmoil, and frustration that comes with creating something from our own abilities.
Having grown up from a Christian lineage of missionaries, evangelists, and leaders, I experienced my own personal salvation through Christ at the age of eighteen during the time period now known as the Charismatic Renewal. This particular move of the Spirit happened among the large historical denominational churches. The main emphasis was on speaking in tongues, and people being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Almost immediately on the tail of that movement came the movement among the hippies and youth culture, who became known as the Jesus Freaks. What we observed during this entire wave of glory was that those who were coming to Christ were not being accepted into the established churches or becoming grounded in the written Word of God. They were not welcomed in because they came barefoot and dressed wrongly; the guys had long hair, and in general they were just not the kind of people the churches wanted as members. So, for the most part, they were kept on the outside, which led to their lack of good, sound Bible teaching. If we were to liken them to fish, we would say they fell through the holes in the nets and got away. Therefore, we did not sustain the powerful move of the Spirit of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Another movement took place across the country in an attempt to disciple these new ones, and that became known as the Shepherding or the Discipleship movement. The concepts involved in this were good ones and very idealistic. The youth who had come to Christ and continued on were hungry to grow and experience all God had. We longed for someone older and wiser to take us by the hand and show us the way. The problem, though, was that there were not many older believers outside the mainstream churches who could do that—not many who knew the Word of God well enough to teach and instruct us or to correct us in love. There came in such a rigid structure of discipleship that began to control and manipulate the new ones to the point that over time people’s marriages, children, and finances were in serious danger. For some, their faith was destroyed and never regained. Some of our friends and fellow Bible school alumni do not walk with God any longer, and their children have contempt for God and His Word.
As things began to be exposed and people began to share about their experiences, there was a reaction as a pendulum swinging the opposite direction. There was either an exodus away from the spiritual way or there was a return to more established churches in an attempt to find something that seemed secure and stable. Those who had been excited about the supernatural turned, instead, to much more rigid, legalistic churches in order to find safety. The supernatural had become something scary—as it certainly can and will be without the written Word of God to anchor our experiences.
The late 1980s found us busy raising our family and trying to hang on and continue with those things we knew God had put into our hearts years before. It was a dry and lonely time, but we knew what we knew, and we believed it. During this time, our beloved pastor and friend in the ministry turned his back on Christ and His Word. When we reached out to those we respected in the faith for help, we were branded as those who were trying to bring division, and they quoted Romans 16:17 to us. (Note those who cause divisions and have nothing to do with them.) It was at that point (twenty years after coming to Christ for salvation) that I seriously considered turning my back on Him and His people. As I daily searched my own heart, I began to realize that it was never the Lord and His Word who had failed me, but only His people and my own self. It was then I decided to continue on, and very soon after that, the president of the Bible school called us on the phone one Sunday afternoon to apologize and admit in his words that we were right and he had been wrong. It was an experience I will never forget. This man of God, who was considered a father in the faith among so many, had humbled himself to admit he had made a major mistake. This did not diminish him in my eyes but rather gave me a real-life example of someone I could dare to follow.
The 1990s brought the Toronto Blessing and all that came with that. This swept through our family and brought the breath of fresh air we so desperately needed. I’m sure there were foolish things that happened, but I have the greatest respect for those whom God used to bring all of those things to us. They have suffered verbal assault, long periods of time apart from their families, and great sacrifice in order to birth and develop some of the coattails that we are riding on tonight.
In 2002, we came in contact with Randy Clark of Global Awakening and saw a friend of ours be miraculously healed of a terminal illness. Nothing has been the same in our family since that night. Things began to move and shake around me as I desperately tried to hang on and keep my ducks in a row. But over the years, I have had to give up trying to keep ducks in a row and just watch as the duck feathers fly everywhere!
What I have given you is a quick synopsis of a nearly forty-seven-year period from my life. We are here tonight because of God’s faithfulness and goodness to us. As I have reflected over the moves of God I have been privileged to be a part of and have mentioned here tonight, I see some lessons to be learned that will, hopefully, enable us to not only continue on but to pass the baton so successfully this time as to keep the present movement of the better covenant theology and the supernatural Kingdom of God thriving and growing with ever-increasing momentum. The Welton Tribe has goals to be the undergirding, enriching, and encouraging framework to enable all of its members to become all they are called to be.
In recounting and analyzing the various moves of God that have taken place in just our lifetime, here are some conclusions that we can draw. As the Welton Academy Network and its Tribe begins to move forward en masse to spread the Kingdom of God throughout the whole earth, these conclusions, when acted upon, should help to make us and our paths more stable.
1. We realize the basic need to have all our members be rooted and grounded in the written Word of God; able to stand and defend the faith that has been handed down to us through the centuries; able to instruct, to correct in humility, and to set in order those things that are still lacking so we may become the beautiful, healthy, mature Bride of Christ. We do not want to judge the Word of God according to our experiences but rather make our experiences live up to what we find in the Word of God.
2. We want all of us to have the same care for one another as we do for ourselves. We want the world to know we are His disciples by how we love each other and them. The love of God can break down any barrier, and love does not try to control nor manipulate. It accepts people for who they are, not for what they have or for what they can do.
3. We want our leadership to walk in humility, be able to be corrected if necessary, and be able to admit we are wrong when we make mistakes.
4. Another important aspect of this Network must be solid, nourishing relationships. We cannot function as a large corporation or country club with fees and privileges, but a family that is there for each other no matter what. We need the kind of relationships that we can turn to in trouble and know that someone cares. We need those who will cry with us, laugh with us, rejoice with us, and push us to be our very best! And in order to keep those relationships alive and well, we need to spend time together. In spite of the distance between us, we must make the effort to stay connected. We need one another.
5. We want all of us to learn how and when to use the various supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit in a way that blesses, encourages, strengthens, and creates hope in one another. We must press on and possess those things that Jesus purchased for us. They must not be left untouched because of fear, unbelief, or ignorance.
We cannot afford to “rest on our laurels” in this period of history. That phrase refers to the garlands they used to place on the heads of Olympic winners as a part of the celebration of their great feats and victories. What it is saying to us, in essence, is that we cannot just look at the things we have already accomplished and be satisfied; we must push ourselves to obtain all He has made possible for us and leave nothing undone! We must pursue the Kingdom and all it has to offer with a violent passion.
And while we are not eighty years old, like Joshua and Caleb, we are among the older generation in this room tonight. We can’t honestly say we are as strong as we were in our twenties, but our spirits are still very much alive and young, and we find within ourselves the cry of Caleb, “Give us this mountain!”