After 33 years and more than 5,000 presentations, Dave and Barb Anderson's ministry is changing.
"We're in the midst of the biggest transition possible, at least for us," Dave Anderson said. "This could be our last concert tour in northern Minnesota."
The Andersons both grew up in Minnesota (they now live in Phoenix) and founded Fellowship Ministries in 1975. Since then they've traveled around the world - 4 million miles total - presenting worship concerts and services. They've visited Minnesota and the Brainerd lakes area many times speaking at seminars and performing for churches.
After surviving a plane crash sculpted the music ministry of Dave and Barb Anderson, their focus is changing. The couple hopes to build a retreat center for pastors in Arizona.
Their ministry wasn't always so broad. In 1993 the Andersons' lives and ministry took a drastic turn. While on a return flight to the United States from Russia their chartered missionary plane lost both engines, causing them to plunge into the Bering Sea at 90 mph. The seven people on board the plane returning home from a mission trip suddenly found themselves in 36-degree water, battling three- to five-foot waves. Anderson said life expectancy in 36-degree water is between 5 and 15 minutes. They had no life jackets or rafts. They were about 22 miles from Nome, Alaska.
Dave Anderson was eventually rescued by a helicopter after 45 minutes, Barb Anderson after 55 minutes. All seven made it out of the water alive.
Dave Anderson said he believes God put him and his wife through the ordeal so they could use the experience in their ministry. And they have.
"As our plane fell from the sky we didn't hear an 'oops' from heaven because God was not caught off guard," he said.
The Andersons' rescue story is central to their music ministry. They tell the tale at every performance and sing songs to enhance their message.
If you go...
Dave and Barb Anderson of Fellowship Ministries will perform at the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. church services Sunday at First Lutheran Church in Brainerd.
The Andersons will also perform at 7 p.m. Monday at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes.
"God is the God of impossible situations in our lives," Dave Anderson said. "In every audience there's people feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances."
The rescue story has helped the Andersons become well-known performers and speakers.
"Through radio, TV, books and DVDs, we've spoken to millions," Anderson said. "We wouldn't have without that event. It increased the scope of our ministry radically."
The Andersons performed in about 11 churches each month this year, but their music ministry is starting to wind down.
Fellowship Ministries' new focus is Shepherd's Canyon Retreat, a counseling center for pastors seeking renewal. Anderson said pastors are often stressed and burned out, and Shepherd's Canyon Retreat would help them heal emotionally and spiritually. The retreat center is planned to be located about one hour east of Phoenix.
"Building a specialized counseling center is our hope and dream," Anderson said.
He mentioned some statistics, including: 1,000 Protestant clergy quit every month and in the Lutheran denomination alone, about 33 percent would quit if a better offer came along.
The Andersons are scaling back their music ministry to raise money to build the retreat center, a cause they're passionate about.
HEIDI LAKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.
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