In our modern Facebook mentality of relationships, it is easy to be content with reading a few lines about a person. As such, we often miss the deeper facets of who a person is because we no longer sit down face to face and actually listen to the stories of their lives. We can learn volumes, if we are just willing to take the time. Will you come and sit with me for a bit? I’d love to introduce you to a woman whose journey of ministry will inspire you to seek new opportunities, to trust in the Lord, and to keep on allowing Him to work His perfect work in you.
Her name is Pat Lutz. If I had my perfect wish, we’d be sitting together with her in her living room sipping some tea together so you could actually see, hear and experience who she is: a wonderfully imperfect vessel who continually shines for His glory.
The Apostle Peter exhorted believers:
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God… so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Essentially, the Apostle Peter reminded us that we have all received a unique gift, which none of us deserved, from our Lord for the express purpose of serving one another in a proactive way. The emphasis of the gift, the work, and the glory are on God, not on us. In this culture many believers are sidelined from being good stewards of the beautiful gifts of God because of a deep-seated self-centeredness that results in either pride or fear. Pat Lutz’s lifelong journey of ministry speaks loudly of the God who called her, prepared her, led her, and stayed by her.
One of the things that stands out about Pat Lutz is the fact that she looks more like a woman who belongs on a golf course than working with ex-convicts and addicts. Yet, this stylish, petite woman has worked as administrator and counselor for broken women in a transitional home, a chaplain for the 2500 person Pima County Jail where she taught two classes and did all the one on one counseling of the female convicts, and is currently facilitating a 12 step program for women who are currently living in transitional homes in Prescott, Arizona. Interestingly, Pat began her journey of ministry by, “doing what anyone asked me to do,” including playing the hand bells at her local church.
Pat was raised in a Christian home by loving parents who valued prayer and godliness. While she faithfully attended church with her own family, she did not begin a serious road into ministry until 1993 when she became aware that the signs of the times were unmistakably indicating she was living in the last days. The Lord gave her a clear picture of herself as having one foot in the world and one in the truth; she could not keep living the way she was living knowing Christ could return at any moment. She sought His plan for her life.
Pat’s interest in prayer and eschatology spilled over onto others around her and naturally opened up teaching opportunities. In 2000, God called her to a more specific ministry to women in bondage. It did not come easily to her at first, as she soon discovered she needed to scale back her teaching to her audience. She realized that in order to work with women who knew nothing about Jesus, nothing about His salvation, and nothing about His word, that she would have to get the message simple. She learned to express spiritual ideas without the normal Christian-eze. She does not often use words like “born again” or “being saved,” not because she is afraid to, but because they often put up walls in those who have little understanding of their meaning. That’s not to say that she doesn’t share the Scriptures with these concepts, if she gets the opportunity, but as a whole she finds that if she uses simple words to teach the same concepts, she gets better results.
The Lord was training Pat for things that she had no way of knowing were coming. He was training her not only to go into a non-Christian environment and speak the truth in terms that could be easily understood, but also to go boldly into an anti-Christian environment where she would be despised for the message she brought. This kind of training did not come without a personal cost to Pat. She felt as if she often got beat up spiritually in that training ground and that the enemy specifically targeted her in order to block her from all that God had for her. As she looks back on it all, though, she sees that God gave her just what she needed when she needed it, and that even the things that happened in her personal life often opened up new avenues of warfare techniques, through books and teachings of others who had experienced similar things.
She relates a specific moment when she became tangibly aware of God’s protection of her:
“Once as I was walking down a long hallway in the jail as a long line of the worst of the worst, I questioned the Lord about the battle. The men were shackled with things over their head so they couldn’t spit. They were chained to each other and there were extra guards around them, and to the front and rear. There’s protocol that you operate under, so, I walked to the side, with my head down making no eye contact, saying to the Lord: ‘Wow, God, there’s so much demonic in this place. It’s almost stretched with it yet, I don’t feel any oppression when I walk in here. Never. No fear.’ I would walk into the psych unit with men raging naked because they had taken off their clothes to prevent suicide, and they were screaming at me. And I would want to leave as quickly as possible, but overall I wasn’t fearful. I asked the Lord as I was passing that group of men, ‘If I could see what it looked like in the spiritual realm in here, what might it look like?’ I was just thinking it, because these are long halls that aren’t taken quickly. I knew I was walking behind the enemy lines, just like black ops. I was in the enemy’s territory, snatching people out of the fire.
And suddenly I got a quick glimpse: of two angelic beings who were extremely huge, clear to the ceiling. I came maybe up to the thigh of each. There were three: one to the side where the men walked, one in front and one behind. I couldn’t see faces, but they were clothed in white and were extremely buff. They were staring these guys down as we passed. And then it was gone.
It was an exciting place to be. There were the women in there who loved me, and some of the guys were very kind and very appreciative. And then there were those who were completely antagonistic.
Some of the beatings I took were preparations to walk in there and not be overly focused or distracted by the enemy’s works in there. His vision in the jail that day was of the Light, because the darkness was always visible to some degree or other.”
Not all of Pat’s journey in ministry was positive, nor does she feel as if all of her decisions were the best. She credits God with faithfulness to use all things in His good work to prepare her. It is a willing vessel, not a perfect one, that He finds precious. Her face beamed as she told me that God is not boring and does not put us in ruts. She has experienced putting herself in a rut and found out that God was nowhere in it. Through even those experiences, she knows God was working to clear her vision of His will and direction.
She is careful in her use of the standard “I heard from the Lord…” She thinks it is important to remember that the Lord doesn’t give dialogue, He gives comments. He speaks individually to each of us at different junctions of life with different “voices.” He may speak to some in the first person or He may speak through someone. He speaks in a lot of different ways and, as we mature in the Lord, we get better at hearing Him.
All believers will, at one time or another, do things that were never designed to go anywhere, but are merely teaching tools in the hands of the God. Pat has experienced the truth that God never wastes His time. Even during the times when she had no idea what He wanted to specifically teach her, she would find later that there was indeed a discipline, or a submission to an authority, or something that she learned during those phases. Mistakes are factored by God; and when we find ourselves in them, we need to do our job well until its done, and learn from it.
Frustration can come to young believers who think there is only one ministry for them, but Pat believes that transition and preparation are always going on in your life, one after the other. Both are a normal part of the course in the believer’s journey of ministry. As a believer is looking to serve the Lord, he should be willing to try anything that sounds interesting or looks fun. The process of experimenting will bring a great discernment so that the lines of one’s ministry become more focused. God may take a person in a general direction, but ministry should always be held loosely enough to allow God to take it in the direction He wants it to go. God can often use even the things that initially seem the most confusing. Confusion is not unusual; because confusion is what will cause you to weed through and dig through and to prevail before the Lord in seeking what He is actually saying and doing.
As Pat looked back at all the different ministries God had for her over the years, she credits brokenness as the most effective tool He used to prepare her. She experienced a period of time when she felt deserted by the presence of God. It was a life changing event that made her feel as if she was a seed that had gone into the ground, died and then was raised to bear much fruit. In the midst of it, she had no understanding that God was using the brokenness to train her for greater success.
Women in ministry can be strong and very self-sufficient. We can walk around in our efficiency, thinking it is God working, when in fact it is not. Pat had to come to a place where brokenness brought complete reliance upon the Lord and on nothing else. Doing so, however, took the worry and stress away from her. The more she trusted in the Him, rather than her own ability to pray herself up or work her way through or know enough Scripture, the more she found herself at peace. And the more God brought wisdom, knowledge and power to bear. People were set free in ways and experienced miracles in ways that Pat never could have imagined, and her Brokenness confirmed that it was all God and had nothing to do with her at all.
Pat also credits that time of intense Brokenness with having removed the cold love from her heart. Cold love brings nothing but judgment into a place where people are extremely needy. She experienced the kind of emptying of self that left her with none of her own story to relate to them. She found herself learning on the spot to hear what God wanted to say to them. It took an extreme emptiness to allow His to be poured out so richly upon those to whom she was called.
“Of course, in the midst of the brokenness, I had no way of knowing that I would need to be emptied of pride and cold love. I just kept thinking that it was going to make me strong for the next thing. I kept trying to pump myself up. But one day, when I was already in the jail ministry and still coming out a mess, still weak, I realized what the Lord was trying to say to me, ‘This is what I’ve been telling you, Pat, that in your weakness, My strength will be revealed.’ And all of a sudden I stopped trying to feel like the weakness and brokenness had to end, and that I had to finally come out strong. Brokenness and emptiness were the point.
I’m glad He did what He did because it fired a passion and a humility in me. It’s the majority that walks there (in bondage) and a minority that walks where I have (in freedom). I used to think it was just the opposite. I learned that I had none of my own experiences to relate to them. I had to be able to see them with through His eyes and love them with His love. It had to be all Him.”
Like night vision goggles, hindsight has allowed her to look back into the darkness of that time to see the faithfulness of God working powerfully around her and in her. She has no doubt that brokenness was a place designed especially for her, and that the training ground of walking by faith, not by sight in the midst of it was not only vital, but necessary to the eventual success the Lord would bring to her ministry. She encourages believers who are experiencing a time of brokenness to stop trying to figure everything out. We can trust God to give the answers and He will unfold them as we walk through it. We need to keep trusting and keep moving forward, knowing that He is faithful even though we may not get relief from our symptoms. Feelings will only deceive, so we must learn to do what the Lord says to do even when it is tough and we don’t feel like it. There is an end to brokenness, and Pat is a living example of one who endured through the place of death to self and is now living powerfully in the light of His presence like never before.
Pat has often reflected on how she would have felt if the Lord had given her a view of her journey through ministry. She is absolutely certain that if He had shown her all the places she would walk and all the things she would have to endure, that she would have told him, “Oh, no way. I’m not going there!” And when you look in the Bible at how God operates, He told Moses what he needed to know, but didn’t tell him all the details. He knows He can’t do that or we wouldn’t be able to handle it at all. So, I would have been shocked at where He took me and I would have been fearful of where I had to go along the way. Looking back, it was all worth it to her, because of His faithfulness to train her and change her heart along the way. The journey sweet and memorable by His work and purpose.
To the casual observer, Pat Lutz may not look like she would have much “street cred” with ex-cons and drug addicts, but the Lord has molded her into a unique vessel to share His glory with women who might otherwise be ignored or overlooked. She does not try to force herself into a preconceived mold, because she knows that it is not the box that is important, but the gift. She approaches every ministry opportunity as a vessel bringing God.
Pat Lutz is a great example to those believers who don’t just want a ministry for ministry sake, but who have a deep sincere desire to follow their Lord. Her journey of ministry has resulted in the passing on of the manifold gift of grace which she has received. In addition to her work as a 12-step teacher, Pat’s love for eschatology has given rise to opportunities to pass that passion on to others. She is currently involved with an End Times Bible Study that includes her young nephews and sisters. She can also be heard on a local radio station in the Tucson area discussing end times events. Recordings of the programs can be listened to at http://www.deborahannsweezyministries.com/#/end-of-times-with-pat-lutz/.
“Obviously, the older you get in serving the Lord, you know that there is only one goal and that is that they might know Him. My journey of ministry is not done yet, but I’m less concerned with the details as I am about living a life that calls attention to Him. It is my hope that whether I have one day or one year or 10 years, that no matter where I go or what I do, whether at home or in ministry, that others would know Him and say, ‘she helped me know Him. She took His hand and took my hand and introduced us.’ That’s how I stay moving on my journey of ministry.”
At the end of her journey when she is called Home, there is no doubt that the One who called her, prepared her, led her and stayed by her will be there to embrace her warmly as a good and faithful servant. I, for one, want to be right there with her, following her example and spurring others to do the same along the way.