I’m excited to tell you about a new Christian wilderness ministry I am helping start. As you probably know, I’ve been serving at Camp Redcloud for over 15 years. During this time I’ve learned a lot and grown in many ways. I’ve been at Redcloud through some incredibly hard times and seen God work in amazing ways. But for the past couple years I’ve begun to sense that God was preparing me to step into something new. I didn’t know what that was until recently.
For the past six years Mark Anderson has been my director at Redcloud. Mark worked at Redcloud for several years in the early 90’s before moving to Oregon to work for Reachout Expeditions. During this time he learned a lot about Wilderness ministry and met his wife Sarah. Mark worked into a director role and was used by God to expand that ministry significantly during his 9 years there. Mark & Sarah returned to Redcloud in 2005, and they have been very influential in my life these past several years. This spring Mark & Sarah made the very difficult choice to step out and start a new wilderness ministry after fulfilling their commitment to Redcloud this summer.
When Mark & Sarah made this decision, they asked me to pray about joining them. Although I immediately felt my heart drawn to it, I was also concerned about the need I’ve seen at Redcloud for consistent leadership in the wilderness ministry and I was thinking that I should stay to provide that leadership. But all through this time, God kept this new ministry on my heart and I felt that He was telling me that somehow I’d be involved. So I told Mark & Sarah that I would pray about it through the summer.
As the summer drew to a close, I still hadn’t received clear direction. We were coming off an incredible summer of ministry where we saw God move in amazing ways in the lives of both the campers and our staff, so the desire to stay and continue to minister at Redcloud was real. But I had some significant concerns over the current direction of camp, and was not sure I would have the freedom to minister effectively out of the passions God has placed in me. So I submitted a proposal asking for those freedoms, putting it out as a fleece to see what God would do. Then I went away on a two-day hike to pray and seek the Lord’s direction. At the end of my time out, my prayer was “Lord, I’m willing — just make it clear. Don’t leave any room for doubt in my mind.” When I returned, I met with John Jackson (Redcloud’s CEO), who told me that while my proposal was good, they were planning to take Redcloud Expeditions in a different direction and he asked me to step down from my position.
I took this as a very specific answer to my prayer for clear direction. God hadn’t just closed the door; He slammed it. And while it is hurtful in some ways, my heart has now been freed of a burden and I believe that God has given me the grace to accept this. I didn’t want to rush into a decision on what to do next, whether to join Mark & Sarah or pursue something else; I wanted to be sure that whatever I chose was of the Lord. I had a few other options I was mulling over in my mind, so I took some time to think and pray about these things. But I kept coming back to how God had put this new ministry on my heart. With this as confirmation and no more hesitations, I accepted Mark’s invitation to join them in starting Journey Quest!
Journey Quest will be based out of the Cotopaxi area in the Arkansas River Valley (between Salida and Cañon City). It is a beautiful location at the northern end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is our desire to take people out into places where they will experience God’s creation, receive Christ-centered teaching, and be surrounded by a community of believers who will love them and support them in their walk with Christ. The adventuresome activities we will use are simply tools to bring about teachable moments and draw the conversation back to the person and work of Jesus. Things are moving forward quickly with the purchase of an existing rafting company, which could get us started as soon as May. The funds that come in from rafting will be used to grow other areas of the ministry, eventually stepping into international missions projects and more. In addition to rafting, this year we hope to be ready to offer rock climbing and mountaineering. In the future we plan to add backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo and the San Juan mountains, expand to other rivers, and open a simple, campground-style base.
Like Redcloud, Journey Quest’s full-time staff will not draw a salary off of the income from the ministry, so I will still need to raise financial support to serve in my new role. Redcloud will continue to process any support that comes in for me through the end of the year as I transition to Journey Quest. I will be spending a fair bit of the next few months building a larger support base which is needed for me to be able to serve in this new ministry. Will you please stand with me in this new ministry?
While I’m very excited about the new ministry and the future, it has been very difficult to leave Redcloud and Lake City. Over the 15 years I’ve lived in Lake City, I’ve grown deep roots, built great friendships, and become involved in the church and community in many ways. Wednesday I moved back to Grand Junction and plan to base out of there for a few months. It is great to be with my family, and I know that I will be better off here for this time, but it is still hard. Please pray for me in this time of transition and feel free to get in touch with me at any time.