“A Godly Heritage” By Rev. Karen Peyton
“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” (Psalms 16:6) When looking back over my life, this verse seems to sum it up very nicely. I may not have realized it, or even believed it lots of times, but hindsight seems to bring clarity. I was a fourth-generation Pentecostal and became third in a line of preachers. My dad was a preacher, as was his father, and although my great-grandfather was not a preacher, he was a pioneer Pentecostal in the state of Maine where I was born and grew up.
As a teenager, one of my greatest passions was preparing sermons. I used to love researching through my dad’s Pulpit Commentary set and getting excited as Bible truths were revealed to me. Although my dad pastored a church in a nearby town, I would attend Youth Services at the Pentecostal church down the road from our house. They would frequently ask me to speak there, and that is where I began my preaching ministry. Although I began teaching Sunday School at an early age in the church where my father pastored, he never encouraged my preaching ministry. In retrospect, I believe this was because he didn’t think too highly of women preachers. In his defense, this was a common mindset among most of the male ministers of that time. As a result, while I lived at home I didn’t think my ‘real ministry’ would begin until I married a preacher, evangelist, or missionary.
At the age of twenty-one, a friend of mine who had just graduated from Bible School convinced me to go with her to become ‘tentmakers,’ as home missionary assistants were then called, in a city about 120 miles away from home. This became the second phase of my ministry; however, although I taught Bible Studies and Sunday School, held various positions over many years, again my pulpit ministry was not encouraged, nor was I encouraged to become a licensed minister.
Off and on throughout my life, I felt like God was calling me to be a missionary to the Eskimo people. It was a scary thing to set off on such an undertaking by myself, but I couldn’t convince any of my friends to go with me. They laughingly told me that if it was to Hawaii, they might consider it. I finally reached a point where I decided that it was the time to find out if my calling was really from God, or just a fanciful dream of my own making. I took vacation time to make a trip to Alaska, and God overwhelming spoke to me in a small Eskimo village saying, “This is where you belong.” I took a huge step of faith, moved to Alaska by myself, and began yet another phase of ministry.
It was in Alaska that I met and married my husband, who was the first man in my life that ever encouraged my preaching ministry and convinced me to apply for my ministerial license. Over the last twenty-three years, we have experienced the joys of doing missionary work, evangelizing, pastoring, teaching seminars, and raising a family together. We have experienced the stress and pressures that go with graduate degrees and doctoral programs. We are both presently employed at Urshan Graduate School of Theology, my husband as a full-time professor and I as a staff member. My youngest son is beginning his first year there as a graduate student, and I pray that he becomes yet another in a long line of preachers from both sides of his family, so he too can say, “. . . yea, I have a goodly heritage.”
Rev. Karen L. Peyton is a licensed minister with the United Pentecostal Church International. Her ministry has included missionary work, both home and Alaskan native missions, evangelizing, pastoring, and women’s ministries. She and her husband have jointly taught children’s ministry and marriage seminars. She currently resides in Hazelwood, MO, with her husband and her two youngest children, and is employed at Urshan Graduate School of Theology. She has been blessed with five children and eleven grandchildren. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2013, 2016 Karen Peyton and Crystal Schmalz Ministries