A Summer Ministry Update from Joshua Fellowship

Young men in a Bible Study group

Dear Friends and Family,

I think it’s safe to say summer is officially over. I know fall isn’t everyone’s favorite, but personally, I love this harvest season. Looking back, this has been a whirlwind of a summer for me. I graduated from seminary, celebrated my one-year wedding anniversary, and witnessed the birth of my daughter–becoming a new parent! Additionally, summer is typically the busiest time of year for Joshua Fellowship–Outpost’s young men’s group—as they have an annual summer curriculum called “Strive.” With my daughter coming a couple weeks before this curriculum started, I really had to trust my leaders to oversee this program while I was on leave for most of the summer. This trust became an overall theme for the summer and was made easier because I knew I could trust God to be working in and through these leaders.

Even before summer started, the leaders and I had been trusting and praying for God to bring in new people to Outpost, and He answered that prayer with some men being clearly Holy-Spirit-directed to our ministry. One changed his plans to move internationally to pursue what God was doing in him. One just happened to hear about the ministry through a cousin who had heard about us through a dance teacher (whom none of the current staff know). Still another, a “pre-believer” at the time, found us through a Facebook group and dove into the process. The Holy Spirit is the best marketing director we could have!

During this summer, God moved powerfully within the men of Strive. I wish everyone could see that transformation we leaders get the privilege of witnessing over the summer. We see the men break through strongholds of shame and passivity and embrace their identities as dearly beloved sons of God! We saw almost a dozen men as participants choosing to love God with their whole selves—sexuality included. From worship time to times of hard work and breakthrough, they chose love again and again. Throughout this process, there were moments of transformation in which these men experienced great freedom, especially to be their authentic selves. Every year I’m blown away by how God comes through!

Outpost also got to see God spreading the DNA of our ministry in this summer. We were blessed to have a director of a sister ministry visit to observe what we do in our final weekend intensive. What’s more, a couple of men on the leadership team are moving on to other ministries in this next season. Though we will miss them, I also know they are taking their skills to continue establishing “outposts of restoration” in their new ministry contexts as well.

Strive is just one great example of how Outpost is truly living out its threefold mission to love God, declare freedom, and establish outposts of restoration for the sexually and relationally broken. So, while we are ending a great season of harvest this summer, I believe we are just beginning to see how God is moving in and through this ministry. I pray the seeds we now sow will multiply both now and in the future.

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A Living Waters Update

Click to go to details page for our Living Waters Group.

Dear Friends and Family,

In John 4, Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman and reveals Himself as the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus draws the woman into conversation by telling her about the “living water” He offers. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). The woman expresses her desire for this “living water,” and Jesus begins to minister to her regarding her sexual and relational brokenness. In a sense, Jesus is telling her that her brokenness points to what she is truly needing from Jesus. As Jesus reveals Himself to her, the Samaritan woman believes and starts witnessing to her village. Through her testimony, many encounter Jesus and come to believe in Him.

One thing that is striking is that Jesus offers the Samaritan woman the living water before she has everything pulled together. Jesus offers her healing and freedom, despite the fact that she is not morally perfect. The minute she receives Jesus as Messiah, she begins to overflow into the lives of others, calling them to encounter Jesus too. Before she is fully healed, she is already being the good gift she was made to be.

This passage, as well as John 7:37-39, gives name to the Living Waters program. Living Waters is a discipleship curriculum that seeks to bring members of the Body of Christ into deeper relationship with, and experience of, God. In this curriculum, a Christian is someone who is already fully accepted, fully loved, and fully valued by God through Jesus Christ. From that place, a Christian begins walking in the fullness of what is already true about them (set free from the law of sin and death, a new creation, a beloved son or daughter, etc.).

This is a stark contrast to how many Christians approach God and walk out sanctification, as I can personally attest to. So often we believe that God will only truly accept us or like us once we have gotten over sinful habits, or have healed from past hurts, or renounced lies and agreements we have made with the enemy. This is a bottom-up approach: we get cleaned up or fixed up, and only then can we believe God is really okay with us. Scripture, however, reveals that in Christ, Christians are already fully accepted, forgiven, and made new. From that place of a new identity, we walk out our healing journeys in order to experience more of the fullness of God than we already have access to through Christ. This is the top-down approach: we are already made whole in Christ. We now walk in Him, experiencing that reality of wholeness and agreeing with Him about who we are.

Jean M., who recently stepped down from the Living Waters Coordinator position, has counseled the Living Waters’ leadership team on this subject. We believe God has something new He is wanting to do, and we sense that this is tied to emphasizing the top-down approach. In this group, we don’t approach people by shaming them and focusing on their brokenness. Instead, we talk with participants about brokenness, wounding, and lies so they can see who they already are in Christ. We focus on what is true and help them learn to hear what God is saying to them in prayer and in the Bible. They are already filled with the living water. We come alongside to help them step into the reality of their adoption into God’s family, as well as work through anything that keeps them from experiencing this.

Living Waters will be meeting for 18 weeks on Thursday evenings starting September 9, running through January 27, 2022 (with breaks for Thanksgiving and Christmas). The group will meet from 6:30pm to 9:00 pm. The format includes worship, teaching, time to process, and small groups. The cost is $220 and includes your book. Anyone who would like to dive deeper into their relationship with God is welcome to apply! If you have questions or are considering applying, please click here for more information and a link to the application. You can also email us with any questions. Applications and a small deposit are due August 29 so we have time to meet with each person prior to September 9. We don’t turn anyone away because of inability to pay, so if you are interested in a scholarship, let us know!

In Christ,

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A Joshua Fellowship Update

Joshua Fellowship Logo

Dear Friends and Family,

Do we really want what we say we want? The story of Joshua in the Old Testament seems to ask this question. He is introduced, alongside Caleb, as one who encouraged Israel to go and take the promised land—despite what looked like insurmountable danger. Yet, that generation of Israelites decided they didn’t want what they said they did. They said they wanted freedom, then they complained and wished they were back in Egypt. They said they wanted the promised land, then they allowed fear to make them complacent in the wilderness. This is why—as Joshua was finally about to lead a new generation across the Jordan into God’s inheritance—God said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Like Joshua, the brave young men in Joshua Fellowship are choosing to trust God and His promises unto abundant life. This is why we call this group Joshua Fellowship. Often this trust comes little by little and with many reassurances from God. For example, Joshua hears God say, “Be bold and courageous,” many times in a short section of Joshua chapter one. Likewise, these men are certainly bold and courageous. In a world that says, “anything goes,” they are choosing to stand and fight for truth. I truly believe that these young men are future leaders in the Kingdom of God.

Many of these men face real struggles. Most (but not all) struggle with same-sex sexual attractions and behaviors, sexual addictions, shame, identity, and deep pain. However, I don’t see them as ones to be pitied for their struggles. Instead, I see them as part of God’s elite force that terrifies the kingdom of darkness! That’s because these men are real. They know what it means to suffer and yet still choose God. They have truly counted the cost and are not doing because it’s easy.

God has also been blessing Joshua Fellowship and drawing men from all over to Outpost. This is nothing special we’ve done—this newsletter is the closest thing we’ve ever done to marketing the group—but is truly God’s doing. I am very excited for what God is going to do in the lives of these men this summer, most of whom are new to Outpost. Please pray for these men to continue to stand firm and become faithful “warrior witnesses” for Jesus to this world.

CalebSpirit Update: A Letter From Dan

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring! This month we have a letter from Dan about another of our support groups, CalebSpirit.

Logo for CalebSpirit
But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, 
I will bring into the land into which he went… Numbers 14:24 (ESV).

At Outpost, one of our chief aims is the release from slavery―not unlike ancient Israel. In our case, we aren’t slaves to the Pharaoh of Egypt, but to same-sex attraction (SSA), or so it seems. Our enemy has no real claim to us, nor did Pharaoh have to ancient Israel. Nonetheless, Israel found herself enslaved by her worldly master. She was delivered by God in a miraculous series of events found in the book of Exodus. But en route to her destiny of freedom, she stumbled, and she grumbled. According to verse 22 of this same chapter, Israel had seen the glory of God and many signs. Seeing God’s glory and witnessing signs and wonders does not motivate obedience, and most certainly does not guarantee entrance into the Promise. That entrance requires something else.

Enter Caleb and Joshua. They trusted God to deliver them into the Promised Land, regardless the obstacles in their path. This is the essence of faith. It could be said of them—like it was said of Abraham—that their faith was accounted to them as righteousness (Rom. 4). They were saved (delivered into the Promise) by faith.

We call the group CalebSpirit because these men have “wandered in the wilderness” for a long time (40 years? Yes, perhaps!), and because they have seen the salvation of their God and believe in Him for their deliverance into the Promised Land. The men of CalebSpirit have a different spirit and are fully following the Lord. That does not mean perfectly following the Lord, but they have determined in their hearts to endeavor to imitate Christ throughout their lives, especially in regard to their SSA struggles.

We currently have ten men enrolled in our Tuesday night group where we are studying a book by Steve Gallagher entitled, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry. Our weekly book-club-style discussions have addressed such topics as “Am I really enslaved (addicted)?”; “Why do I do the things I do?”; “What is at the root of my sexual sin struggle?”; and “How do I rely upon the Holy Spirit to overcome sexual sin in my life?”

Further, we engage as a fellowship of like-minded sojourners. We are in this together. We hold a retreat a couple times a year for concentrated prayer and fellowship. We also do fun summer activities together, like kayaking, mini-golf, croquet, movies, dinners out, potluck BBQs, holiday parties, biking, and even some travel. We attend conferences and seminars as a group. Finally, we hold one another accountable for our SSA struggles. The men of this group are forming a unique fellowship. Many of the men have been part of our group, or other Outpost groups, for over 20 years. This stability provides confidence and strength to the group.

If you are interested in this group, or know of men ages 45-70 who would be, please contact me at (763) 592-4700 x101. I welcome conversations anywhere along these lines.

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A Banquet Recap: A Letter From Wendy

Dear Friends and Family,

Spring is here, our yearly reminder that God is in the business of renewal. Between the warmth of the sunshine and the cool cleansing of the rain, we see the wonder of new growth as the grass becomes green and the trees begin to bud.

What a beautiful picture of God’s work in each of our lives! How fitting, then, that we take time each spring to reflect on the ultimate gift of rebirth: the new life given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this year of illness, confusion, incivility, and even violence, the reminder of God’s heart for our redemption, renewal, and healing becomes even more precious.

I was reminded again of God’s heart as we gathered for our Spring Banquet. This was the first time in over a year that we were able to gather such a large group together to share a meal, worship in song, and celebrate what God is doing in and through the ministry of Outpost and TCJHOP. Most meaningful to me were the words of the song “Graves into Gardens”:

You turn mourning to dancing,  
You give beauty for ashes,  
You turn shame into glory,  
You’re the only One who can.  

You turn graves into gardens,  
You turn bones into armies,  
You turn seas into highways,  
You’re the only One who can!

Last year, we had to cancel the in-person banquet only weeks beforehand. Our lives and ministry changed drastically in order to respond to the pandemic. All that we had known and done before was re-evaluated in light of ever-changing information. Mourning, frustration, and anxiety were our constant partners.

Through it all, however, God was working in and through us. As each of the banquet speakers shared, I saw again how God meets us in the midst of our heartbreak to bring comfort, healing, and restoration. I was reminded of all the ways God had moved to provide exactly what the ministry needed this year to do the work before us. I reflected on the times when God met me personally to encourage and strengthen my heart when I felt overwhelmed.

Perhaps today you find yourself in that place of mourning and ashes. Maybe you feel as if your life is in the grave. Take heart! God is in the business of rebirth. No matter how large or small the hurt, God’s heart is to meet you in your pain and bring you comfort and healing (Matthew 11:28).

Perhaps instead you have recently experienced comfort and refreshment from Jesus. Maybe you have seen God move to resurrect a part of your heart. Rejoice! Now is the time to share your story with others and bring them that same comfort and encouragement (2 Corinthians 1:4).

As the world is renewed around us this spring, our prayer is that each of you will experience God’s healing and restoration in your hearts and lives. God is in the business of transformation! Let us celebrate what has already begun and watch with expectancy for the next stage of God’s transforming work.

Yours in ministry,

Wendy

PS:  We are so encouraged by your faithfulness: in prayer, in support, and in giving. Thanks to you we were able to raise just over $16,000 to help fund our 2021 vision. While we still have funding needs for this year, we’re grateful for your ongoing generosity and partnership. We trust that God will continue to provide as we move forward in ministry.