All Things New

As an avid gardener, spring is one of my favorite seasons. In springtime we watch as the muck and grime left by winter is washed away by cleansing rains. The rains in turn nourish fresh green sprigs of new life. This is a beautiful picture of the transformation experienced by those of us who have found freedom from unwanted same-sex attractions and other forms of sexual and relational brokenness. Our new lives of joy in Christ are as different from our past life of sin and sorrow as bright blooms and blossoms are from the dreary grey of winter. The new life of spring reminds us each year of the joy and freedom we’ve found. We remember that Jesus breathed new life into us when we thought we were beyond hope.

Tending to Growth

As any gardener knows, however, a beautiful and fruitful garden is only achieved through much hard work and consistent attention. The soil must be tilled, the weeds pulled, the rocks dislodged, and the garden plot protected from pests. Once new life sprouts, it must be carefully tended, watered, and fertilized for it to mature and produce fruit. So it is with the life of a believer. If we do not dislodge the lies of the enemy from our minds, uproot the selfish desires from our hearts, and allow the Spirit and Word of God to minister to us and teach us, we are not likely to see much growth or transformation in our lives.

The Tools for Growth

The Joshua Fellowship (JF) program is specifically designed to help young men struggling with sexual and relational brokenness achieve victory over sexual sin and receive a renewed identity in Christ. While this work is taking place throughout the year, over the summer we place a special focus and emphasis on doing the hard work of healing. We focus on practical tools for defeating lies, fighting temptation, and overcoming sexual and relational brokenness. Overall, we point participants back to the source of abundant life: Jesus.

Our Summer Strive program and the Encountering Jesus Internship provide young men the opportunity to confront their challenges head-on with the encouragement and support of the JF community of men. We take on passivity and addiction, replacing them with action and service. We reject lies and sin, filling ourselves with the truth of God’s Word and joyful obedience. This hard work changes the young men who go through our program. The summer Strive program is credited by many current and past participants as the turning point in their journey out of sexual brokenness and confused sexual identity.

Growth Produces Fruit

What makes the summer Strive program so powerful is that it reconnects men with their God-given identity. In today’s culture of gender fluidity and androgynous sexual identity, many men struggle to connect with who they were designed to be and what makes them thrive. That’s why we started Strive. We want to help men reconnect with their masculinity–not as culture defines it, but as God does. Overcoming a life-dominating issue like same-sex attraction is not a purely self-focused act. It is a generative act that spreads life and the fragrance of Christ to many others. When men rediscover the truth of their identity, gender, and sexuality, they are empowered to be good gifts to their community. Men who devote themselves to being transformed into the image of Christ go on to become movers and shakers in the Kingdom of God.

Growth Comes From God

How do we do this? We meditate on the character of God as displayed in scripture. We offer thanks to God in all circumstances. We pray. We worship. We look to the wisdom of those who have walked this path before us. We entrust ourselves to Jesus and let go of control. We fight alongside our brothers. We get up when we fall. And above all, we rely on the God who is over all things, and on the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation. What it really comes down to is this: we don’t do it, God does. As the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah, his Word will not return empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. His work may still be in the early stages of growth—almost imperceptible to the untrained eye—but given time it will spring forth to abundant eternal life. May God’s work be accomplished in your life and the lives of those for whom you labor in prayer.

Thanks for Being There

From the 2022 Spring Banquet. Used with permission.

God’s Faithfulness in Transition

Dear Friends,

If you are reading this, I’m writing to you from beyond the grave!

Not really, but by the time you read this, I will no longer be working at Outpost. Instead, my family and I will be at my new ministry position in another state.

Goodbyes are hard. There’s no way around that. But at least they can provide a catalyst for reminiscing.

Looking back, I am so grateful for my time at this ministry. I am thankful for how God worked and how God used the people in this ministry to bring so much healing and transformation into my life. It will be 10 years ago this fall when I nervously made the call to Outpost saying I may need some help. Since then, God used this place to do open-heart surgery on my soul. I had mentors speak into me and friends surround and encourage me, all while experiencing an ever-deepening intimacy with God in His presence.

Of course, it was not always pleasant. I had to grapple with my darkest desires, narcissism, pain, wounds, hatred toward God, hatred toward men and women, sexual addiction, and all the junk inside my sinful heart. Yet through it all, God’s love has always remained. His goodness and worthiness are what kept me going even when healing felt more hell-full than helpful. Now my heart is more sensitive to Jesus than ever before. Now I can receive (and have received) blessings that I could not have experienced before God did His work.

In these almost-10-years, I wasn’t the only one who changed. I’ve seen the lives of so many others impacted by the work and presence of God. Outpost itself has gone through a lot of change and will continue to change after I’m done here. However, one thing that remains the same is the truth that God transforms lives. God continues to use Outpost to do this ministry of transformation from death to life and from despair to hope.

As I say my final goodbye, be encouraged that God is faithful. He doesn’t need me (or anyone) to accomplish His work, yet He loves to partner with us. Ministering is a privilege we get to experience. It should never seem like a duty we are burdened with. I’m grateful to be leaving Outpost with a team that sees this ministry work in that way—as something they get to do, not something they have to do.

With that in mind, I know that Outpost will continue to need your support and prayer—now more than ever—as it faces another time of transition. God will provide for this important work. I hope you may be the means of that provision! As you continue to partner with Outpost as God leads, please see this partnership as a privilege. We invite you into the transformational work of God in the sexually and relationally broken.

Thank you all for coming along with me for this part of my journey.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

The Power of Testimony

Dear Friends,

Spring is just around the corner and with it comes our annual Spring Fundraising Banquet. After the menu planning and invitation design is complete, we turn our attention to the most important part of the evening: inviting people to share their testimonies.

What does it mean to give testimony? Merriam-Webster defines testimony as “a public profession of religious experience” and “first-hand authentication of a fact: evidence.” For followers of Christ, we understand the former, but we often tend to forget that the latter also applies to our stories. When we testify—share our story—we are speaking fact. We are saying, “listen to what God has done.” Banquet testimonies give participants the chance to share their stories of God’s work in their lives over the past years. If you’ve been around Outpost for a while, you’ve probably noticed that all our major events include testimonies. This is an intentional choice we make during planning.

Testimonies Help Overcome

Why are testimonies so important? First, giving testimony is a part of overcoming. Revelation 12:11 reminds us that those who overcome do so “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Somehow, speaking the truth out loud to others solidifies that truth in the speaker’s heart and mind. The more we tell the story of God’s work, the better we are able to remember the story later—especially when we face another challenge. You’ve likely experienced this already in your life. Think of a song you learned as a child. The more you sang that song, the more you now remember the lyrics and the tune, and the more readily the song comes to mind when you need that particular encouragement. The same is true of testimony.

Testimonies Encourage

Second, when we give testimony, our story encourages others in their walks with Jesus. None of us who follow Jesus are walking alone. There are people in front of us, further along the path. There are people next to us, walking and talking with us. There are people behind us, looking to us for guidance and hope. When we share our testimonies, all three of these groups are encouraged. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that encouragement is a vital part of gathering together. “Let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Testimonies Share Hope

As the cares of the world press in around us, it can feel as if there is no hope. In those times, remembering God’s past faithfulness gives us hope that God will move again. Those who have heard our stories are also reminded of their hope in God’s faithfulness, power, and love. My prayer is that each one of us will be encouraged and emboldened to testify today. Whether your story is big or small, sharing God’s work in your life brings hope to those around you. Share away!

We hope you will join us on April 2 for the spring banquet, so you can hear the stories of how God is at work in people’s lives through the ministry of Outpost. Visit www.outpostministries.org/events/2022banquet to register today.

Seven C’s: A List of Helps for Struggling Loved Ones

Dear Friends,

This month we have a special article for you from a long-time friend in ministry. Andrew Comiskey (M.Div.) has worked extensively with the healing of the sexually and relationally broken. He is the Founding Director of Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries, a multifaceted outreach to the broken. Andrew’s ministry grows both out of his own commitment to overcome homosexuality and his experience as a husband to Annette, father of four children and grandfather to five grandkids. He is author of Pursuing Sexual Wholeness (Creation House), Strength in Weakness (InterVarsity Press), Naked Surrender: Coming Home To Our True Sexuality (InterVarsity Press) and the Living Waters healing program. Andrew seeks to equip the Church to be whole and holy, a bride ready to receive Jesus. Andrew serves at St. Thomas More Parish in Kansas City, Missouri. After over four decades of ministry, Andrew still loves receiving and extending mercy to sexual sinners like himself.

Conversion:

The realization that a loved one has assumed a false identity invites you to go deeper in Jesus; it may well become more about your conversion than his or hers. Perhaps it challenges your current ‘standing’ in Christ. All you may be able to do is fall face down and grieve over your sins and the sins woven deeply into our culture. The two are related. You are woven into the fabric of an idolatrous culture; He invites you to repent unto Himself as the way ahead for your integrity of faith and humanity.

Compunction:

This involves the uneasiness or anxiety you may feel for wronging others or causing them pain. It may have to do with brokenness before God for failing to be true to your faith in a culture that now celebrates over 50 gender ‘identities.’ Have you been complicit in allowing friends and/or children to grow distant as you proceeded on with your own life? You may also need to grieve how you have not stood for truth in the public square: contraception, no-fault divorce, rampant porn use, ‘gay marriage’ are all predecessors to today’s gender meltdown.

Compassion:

Jesus hears your cries for mercy. He never fails in His love for you and always responds with deep compassion when you cry out to Him with a broken and contrite spirit. All He is after is your heart. He wants to give you His heart, His compassion, and is intent on using everything, including a loved one’s delusion, to bring you into Reality. Compassion is His way of doing so. He wants to make you compassionate like He is.

Clarity:

With tear-washed eyes, you can behold with clarity your beloved confused one. You possess true vision: he or she possesses a gender of God’s design that the Creator always upholds. So can you. Your sight summons what is mighty in him and lovely in her whether or not they believe it or even want it. Given the lousy self-definitions one can adopt in our day, you can hold fast to the fact that in Christ, according to one’s baptism and confirmation, our beloved one is either a son or a daughter of the Heavenly Father and need not be tossed around by lies (Gal. 4:3-7).

Constancy:

In prayer and in care, keep knocking and seeking the Lord to make known to the beloved His tender, almighty love; at the same time, choose to keep the door open to the beloved. You can seek to be a point of loving continuity in his or her life, the welcome of a home on earth for this weary wanderer. You can set good boundaries when necessary but always with a prayerful, caring spirit that wants only the best for your loved one.

Communication:

Prayerful ones who speak more to God than to the beloved are primed to be led by the Spirit when it comes to what and how much to say. Each confused soul is different but most can be irrationally defensive when it comes to considering his or her delusion. So you can walk and talk in the Spirit concerning the beloved; trust God for brief moments of clarity where compassion and truth meet and you are able to convey your heart’s desire for his or her best.

Consider:

The patience of God towards you in all your wanderings and pride and bad relationships and bad religion, how He simply loved you and waited until you were ready to hear Him (1 Tim 1:15-16). When you broke and bowed down and cried out for mercy, He gave Himself to you freely and fully. He had mercy on you. Wait in patient expectation that He will lead your loved one to repentance and the gift of His almighty mercy.

Originally published as a blog post on DesertStream.org on September 13, 2021. Reprinted with Permission.

Give to the Max Day!

Give to the Max Day Logo with trees, hills and the state of MN.
https://www.givemn.org/

Dear Friends,

November is arriving, and with it comes chilly air, holiday gatherings, and our annual invitation for you to join us for Give to the Max Day. As many of you are aware, Give to the Max Day is specifically set aside in Minnesota for financially supporting local non-profit organizations, like Outpost/TCJHOP. In years past, we’ve asked our supporters to consider giving a little extra this month. This year, however, we are doing something different: inviting new people to contribute to our ministry. We have so many who regularly pray and give, but to do all the work before us, we need to bring more people into this community of support.

Inviting others to join in is inherently biblical. Consider the story of Andrew and Philip in John 1. These men were disciples of John the Baptist when he pointed them to Jesus and said “Look, the Lamb of God!” (v.36). Both men began following Jesus that day. Scripture tells us the first thing Andrew did was go and get his brother Peter, saying, “We have found the Messiah” (v.41). Likewise, Philip went and got his friend Nathanael, telling him to “Come and see” (v.46). What prompted Andrew and Philip’s actions? They had found the Messiah, and they couldn’t wait to bring others to Him.

Have you have been blessed by the ministry of Outpost? Then we encourage you to be bold like Andrew and Philip to say “come and see!” to a few friends or family members. What do we mean? Think about what God has done in your heart, your mind, and your life to bring you hope and healing. Consider who you know that would be blessed and encouraged by hearing your story. Tell them your story and ask if they would like to help us bring that same hope and healing to others.

Our goal is to welcome 50 new donors into our community through Give to the Max Day. Here’s how you can help:

  • Visit givemn.org and create an account.
  • Visit our organization page at givemn.org/organization/tcjhop and click the “Fundraise” button.
  • Create a fundraising page using the provided template.
  • Talk with people and invite them to give through your fundraising page from November 1 – 18.

Andrew and Philip boldly and speedily invited Peter and Nathanael to follow Jesus. This could not have been easy and, as we know, certainly cost them greatly. But it also brought them a great reward. Sharing your story of healing with others may feel daunting, but the reward is also great. Find one or two trusted people you can share with. Tell them what God has done and is doing in your life. Invite them to help us continue providing help and hope to others. And may the act of invitation bring you strength and encouragement to continue sharing your story so others can come and see the hope and healing of Jesus the Messiah for themselves.

Yours,

signature of author

Wendy

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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Renewal, Reflection, and Repentance

water splashing into cupped hands

And He who sits on the Throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’.” (Rev.21:5a NASB)

There is a lot to absolutely love about that declaration from God! However, I think the present continuous tense that’s used—the “am making” part—is a bit of a challenge for  me. To be honest, I would rather God say, “I will make,” or “I have made.” I would rather have God snap His fingers and then everything changes at once. This present and continuous process is tough work! Yet, this is exactly what we ought to think of when we hear the word “renewal.”

Renewal

If you’re like me, renewal usually sounds like something so positive, uplifting, and even fun! It is all those things, but this process of making things new is not all warm and fuzzy feelings. After all, part of “all things” includes you and me—broken, willful, and sinful humans—and all we make and do. Implicit in this idea of renewal is that there are things that are not as they should be. To be made new means something needs to change, and change is almost never easy.

Reflection

One of the silver linings of this last year is the time we have had for reflection. Particularly, I have done my fair share of reflecting on what is truly important for Outpost Ministries, what we could have done differently, and how to prepare for renewal. After all, God is certainly always pro-renewal. As I reflected on renewal, I started to see how one of its mechanisms is another “re-” word, repentance. I am seeing that in this renewing process, there is going to be a lot of repenting, both on an individual as well as a corporate level.

Repentance

I know that the word “repentance” can conjure up all sorts of images and feelings, but at its most basic, repentance really just means a change of direction. It’s a turning aside from one way and going another way. As an individual, I can confess I have made and will make many mistakes. The lyrics of Come Thou Fount summarize this well saying, “Oh to Grace how great a debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be / Let thy goodness, like a fetter / Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee / Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it / Prone to leave the God I love!” As a son, brother, husband, new father, friend, pastor, director, and president, I am prone to wander—prone to stray from God’s renewing work—and I have needed and will need to repent.

As the leader of this ministry, I can also confess on behalf of Outpost corporately: we have and will make many mistakes. While God has and continues to use this ministry to bless many, I also acknowledge that we have made decisions that have hurt people. I don’t think it will shock anyone for us to say that we have taken wrong actions and handled some situations poorly. As we hear about these hurts and learn from the mistakes of the past, we are committed to repentance and moving in the direction of continual renewal.

God is Faithful

As I heard many times in chapel in my bible college days, “People will fail you. Organizations will fail you. But God is faithful!” As we turn and repent, God brings about the healing and the renewal. It is not something we can do ourselves. While I wish I could say I lead a perfect ministry, that is not what God has called me to. I am called to beckon people to trust in God alone, not in me nor in this ministry. By the same token, Outpost isn’t called to have people trust in us. It is called to point people to trust in God alone.

This trust in God alone doesn’t mean we don’t do all we can to align ourselves more with God’s character and plan. It’s in that spirit I want to introduce our newly articulated core values meant to foster this spirit of renewal.

Four Core Values—Honor, Humility, Honesty, and Healing

All four of these values relate to each other and must work together in unity in order to foster healthy community and ministry. While I could (and eventually will) write whole blog posts about each of these, for now I’ll just give a few sentences of explanation of what I mean by each.

  • Honor: This concept comes from Romans 12:10 (NIV), “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” It’s about holding others in higher esteem than ourselves, speaking well of them, and making sure our conversation is aimed at recognizing God’s image in each person rather than demeaning or villainizing them.
  • Humility: The greatest example of this is Jesus. Philippians 2:1-11 shows how the Son of God became a servant, obedient all the way to death on a cross. He wasn’t constantly crying out, “You got this all WRONG!” Instead He said, “Father, forgive them….” If Christ, who did no wrong, could act in such humility, how much more should we seek humility as fallible individuals and groups of human beings? Humility for us is an opportunity to connect with Jesus.
  • Honesty: This is more than not lying. It’s about walking in the light (e.g. John 3:21, I John 1:5-7). The goal is to be as transparent as possible so that we can have true fellowship with one another. Honesty is risky, and that’s why the other values must be present in order for this to be a safe and welcomed value.
  • Healing: The reason this ministry exists is for the sake of healing. We believe the words in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Now this verse is not meant to be individualized (this “you” in Greek is a 2nd person plural) and neither is healing. Healing happens in community. Community is messy. Still, we—as wounded healers—press on and see our need for healing not as a limitation or obstacle, but rather as an invitation and opportunity.

Embracing the Process

I share all of this because I really desire to see this specific renewal process come about at Outpost and TCJHOP. We do not need to fear honor, humility, honesty, and healing. Instead, we need to embrace these values and continually live them out. I am asking you all to keep us accountable in this work.

There are so many who are trapped in their sexual and relational brokenness with no hope for a way out or for transformation. Our work as a ministry is so important in this time, and in order to continue to do this, we need to continuously and consistently be on the path of renewal. Consistently humble in seeking the face of God. Continuously honoring of God and His image in others. Ever honest about our successes as well as our failures, and constantly growing in healing. Thank you for encouraging, forgiving, holding us accountable, supporting, and praying for Outpost and those it serves. My hope is that you will continue to walk with us as we consistently seek after true renewal for ourselves individually, as well as for our ministry and our world.

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.