Joy in the Journey
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Joy in the Journey

by Joyce Meyer Ministries

In 1976, when God spoke to Joyce’s heart that she would someday have “a large teaching tape ministry,” she could have only imagined what would happen over the next four decades.

From a Bible study in their home…to airing on a few local radio stations…to eventually reaching a potential audience of two-thirds of the world through the Enjoying Everyday Life TV program, Dave and Joyce have watched the Lord use their ministry to bring help and healing to millions, including missions outreaches that now span the globe.

They recently sat down to discuss ministry milestones, funny moments, how it all began, and the incredible things the Lord has done all along the way.

Forty years of ministry is a long time. How did it all begin?

Joyce: Well, one day I was listening to a cassette teaching tape. It was 60 minutes long, and I was just amazed that anybody could get a whole hour of teaching out of one verse and keep my interest.

So, at the end of that teaching, I was making my bed and doing housework, and I just sensed God putting a desire in my heart to teach the Word...and that I was going to go all over the world and teach, which of course in the natural was totally ridiculous. But truly, with God, all things are possible.

What was your first step after you knew God was calling you into ministry?

Joyce: I started a Bible study, and that’s kind of the way it began. But I didn’t know how to teach a Bible Study, so I asked my pastor. He recommended a Thompson Chain Reference Bible and to start in the book of John. So that’s where I started: John chapter 1, verse 1. But I certainly wouldn’t have seemed like Bible teacher material, would I?

Dave: No, in the natural you didn’t, but you always had the gift to teach from the very beginning. And while Joyce was teaching she was learning through the Word how to grow and deal with different problems in her own life. Then the things she encountered she would teach to the people.

Joyce: We always had about 25-30 people each Tuesday night. And they would come if it was snowing, raining…no matter what they would come. Then a friend asked me to start a Bible study at her house on Thursday afternoon. So we did these Bible studies for five years.

When did you begin holding weekly women’s meetings at church?

Joyce: At the end of five years, I felt like God had directed me to stop the Bible study. I thought, It’s time for my promotion, something great’s gonna happen now. And so for one year, nothing happened. And that was a very confusing year. I can look back now and realize God taught me the importance of being myself.

Because I was insecure, I didn’t like who I was and constantly tried to be somebody else, whether it was my pastor’s wife or my “home-maker” neighbor next door. During that year, I tried to have a garden and sew my family’s clothes...all these things God was not anointing me for.

Dave: She did sew a pair of shorts for me and that was a disaster.

Joyce: (laughs) I remember, they were grey with dark grey piping around the edges.

Dave: The shorts had pockets longer than the shorts. I cut the pockets out. I should have kept the shorts. I burned them!

Joyce: Well then in 1980, we began attending Life Christian Center, a start-up church. They asked me if I wanted to start a women’s Bible study. They advertised a little bit, and this was just a miracle from God: That first Thursday morning, 115 people came! After a while they asked me to come on staff, and the Bible study grew to about 500 people every week.

Is this when you began airing on the radio?

Joyce: My pastor was on radio, and the slot next to him opened up, so he asked me if I wanted to do it. I started on WCBW in St. Louis, a fifteen-minute radio slot once a week.

After five years, in 1985, we knew it was time to leave Life Christian Church. The Lord had instructed us to “take the ministry North, South, East and West.” So we literally began holding meetings in North St. Louis, South St. Louis, East St. Louis and West St. Louis.

At this point, we were running the ministry out of our home and had five or six people working for us. We had one person who would open mail, another to duplicate the cassette tapes. We had phones all around the house. We even had a guy who produced the radio program out of our son’s bedroom closet. I’m also raising kids—I have a baby, I have teenagers.

Dave: I’m coming home and Joyce is saying, “This is overwhelming, I can’t handle this.” Six months later, I quit my job to help full time with the ministry. I set up all the conferences, I did the payroll, and I bought all the radio time.

In the beginning, it was very difficult to get on stations because hardly anyone knew Joyce. But eventually the word got around that she was good, so it was easier. In the upcoming years, we grew to 150 stations.

When did you make the decision to go on television?

Dave: It was just out of the blue. One day I was getting ready to go to the office and all of a sudden the Lord opens up my heart to sense the hurts of the world. I’m sobbing, and God says, “I prepared you all this time to go on television.”

I’m thinking, There’s no way we can go on television. It costs too much. Then in kind of a vision I see this hand on a spicket, and God says “If I turn this off, you can’t even do what you’re doing now. But if I turn it up, you can do everything I ask you to do.”

I shared this with Joyce, and that’s when we decided to do it. The first program was so primitive—Joyce was literally teaching in front of a shower curtain for a back-drop! But it was the beginning of the television ministry, and now it’s just beyond anything we could have ever expected.

You are the core of this ministry, but who are some of the people behind the scenes who help make it possible?

Joyce: My name gets to be on it, but you can’t do it alone. We’ve got wonderful leaders in the ministry. Our two sons, David and Daniel, pretty much run all the day to day stuff now. Both sons-in-law also work here and do a phenomenal job. We have about 650 employees worldwide with offices in nine different countries…and they’re all a part of this.

Then we have our ministry partners who financially support the ministry, and every one of them is very important no matter what they give. We need them, and we’re all partners together in doing everything we do.

Dave: Without the partners, it would be a very small ministry, and it would not go very far. Without them, we might do about 15% of what were doing today.

Reaching people through world missions is such an integral part of this ministry. How did that begin?

Joyce: About thirty years ago, I had this growing desire to help people. So we started setting aside money to help the poor. We started right here in St. Louis, helping through inner city ministry and contributing to other ministries. Then we started different missions and got involved with missionaries around the world.

Now we’re involved in feeding programs, fresh water wells, medical missions and so many other things in about 150 different nations. It’s very, very important to me to be able to help people. You help people with the Word, but you also need to help them in a practical way.

People are drawn to your authenticity. How do you keep things so balanced and real? It seems like you have a lot of fun.

Dave: Yeah we do! It’s very important to enjoy each part of your life—not just the ministry or work part. And it’s especially important to enjoy your spouse if you’re married and allow them to be themselves.

Joyce: I tell people all the time, I don’t know what I’d teach if I wasn’t married to Dave because he gives me an opportunity to apply every message that I’ve ever preached! But Dave and I both have a lot of fun in our relationship. And I know that its very important that we remember where we came from and that it’s God doing all of this.

Take a journey through the years with photos and videos of Dave and Joyce