Until last year, I was your typical, American-evangelical-sincere-but-perfunctory-pray-er. You know the drill: a nice, quick prayer before meals. A hurried plea before car trips. A sentence or two before bed. Fifteen minutes before quiet-time. It was all good—all heartfelt, genuine talking-with-God. But it was limited, both in time and in scope. My prayer life was in a box. I considered prayer important, but a prelude to the real stuff, the actual work. Although I desired more, I told myself: Gary, you just don’t have time to pray as much as you’d like.
Today, I look back and know the truth. I don’t have time not to pray. Around seventeen months ago, something changed.
All-heaven started breaking loose at Forest Home. And here’s the bottom line—it all started with prayer.
I’m not sure how or why it started, yet that doesn’t surprise me, because moves of God’s Spirit often begin unannounced. I just know that the senior staff at Forest Home began to experience a strange hunger for more than perfunctory prayers before our meetings. Instead of asking God to bless the “meat of our meeting,” prayer became the meat. It became the agenda, instead of the opening ritual. Quick prayers became hour-long conversations. God’s presence began to pour out over the room, and our hearts.
Scripture references to praying without limits now came into perspective. “Pray without ceasing…” (1 Thess. 5:17), “praying at all times in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:18), “Continue steadfastly in prayer…” (Colossians 4:2), and many others. We noted how, upon Jesus’ baptism and filling with the Holy Spirit, He went into the wilderness and spent no less than forty days in prayer.
Things at Forest Home began to change. Prayers were answered. Doors opened. Miracles happened. Hearts opened. Lives turned around. New counselors came for a one-hour worship service and remained in Hormel Hall for 4 hours—praying, weeping, confessing sins and releasing hurts to God. The whole spirit of Forest Home began to transform. The senior staff saw God revolutionize their lives. Prayer stopped feeling like a task we could accomplish and check off a list—it felt like a destination, a calling into a whole new life with God.
Today, we’re seeing miracles and gifts from God all over Forest Home. People tell us they sense His presence here. Staffers text me saying, God is here. His spirit is here. God really is moving and leading this place! Campers experience genuine revival and come away renewed, convicted and inspired like never before. They sense that, in the words of Psalm 127:1, the Lord has built this house.
Why am I sharing these thoughts? First, I want to share what God is up to in our midst. But I’m also convinced that here lies a genuine, Godly way to transform a life stuck in life-long ruts and stubborn patterns. So if you desire to steer your life in a new direction, fully surrendered to God, I recommend a radical, prayer-life overhaul. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and make this assurance—an unleashed prayer life will absolutely rock your 2014.
Forest Home’s vision is for all campers to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, explore the Word of God, pursue God’s call on their lives, engage in Christ-centered relationships, and connect with God through His creation. To support this vision, we took steps of faith to upgrade our camp facilities and recreation options.
We prayed this winter that God would do something so incredible that it could only be attributable to Him…. and He did. Not only did He provide funding and contractors to complete our needed projects, but He also led five of these contractors to surrender their lives to Him during the process! Thank you, Lord, for your amazing grace!
The Lord allowed for us to complete the new pool that families and children have enjoyed this summer! The new splash pad is in the middle of construction and will be ready for summer 2014!
We also completed several recreation upgrades, including:
• The new children’s play area, Boulder Junction, inside Canyon Park
• Renovations to the miniature golf course
• A new Forest Center grass field and children’s play area
• A new Prayer Trail
In addition, we updated cabins with:
• New mattresses
• New bedspreads
• New shower caddies, window fans and towel hooks
Finally, we’ve made two big changes in our retail department:
• We’ve installed a new grill in the Clubhouse for hamburgers and artisan sandwiches
• We’ve added a new retail location with an expanded collection of Outfitters apparel
We invite you to visit again soon and enjoy all that the Lord has provided for Forest Home!
Some of the most dynamic Christian Speakers in America are coming to Forest Home in 2014, and we want to provide our 2013 Family Camp families the first opportunity to make reservations.
Between now and August 16, 2013, any family with paid Family Camp reservations for 2013 can register for any 2014 Family Camp week. Only after August 16 will we begin taking registration from others.
Speakers announced so far include: Will Graham, Billy Graham’s oldest grandson and world evangelist; Alistair Begg, considered one of the finest Bible teachers in the world; John Trent, one of the nation’s most sought-after speakers on marriage, parenting and family relationships and a bestselling author; Bob Botsford, Testify’s daily radio program speaker and 30 Days of Building a Better Family author; and two of the fastest rising young pastors in American evangelical circles, Mike Erre and Albert Tate.
We are still adding speakers for the remainder of the 2014 summer, but we know that we will be quickly filling Family Camp slots with the extraordinary speakers already booked. We want our faithful 2013 Family Campers to be given the opportunity to book for next year before the general public.
If you have already rebooked for 2014 and would like to change the week you are planning to attend, no problem. Just give our Program Reservation Team a call at 909.389.4488.
Thank you for your continued support of the ministries of Forest Home, and we look forward to seeing you at Family Camp next year.
We believe in the power of breaking bread together… or drinking milkshakes. It’s our desire to create spaces where you, your family and friends can sit together, build strong relationships, and encourage each other in Christ. That’s why we are excited to announce new refreshment areas and extended hours for the Clubhouse and Stagecoach Coffee.
Campers and guests have also asked us if we are going to bring back more retail items like those once found in the old Outfitters’ Bookstore. We can now say, “Yes!”
We are expanding retail and dining options throughout Mill Creek Canyon, including:
• A new retail yurt, Forest Home Outfitters, located just south of the Forest Center Dining Room. This will be the hub for all of your apparel needs.
• New refreshment stations in Canyon Park (formerly known as The Challenge Course), the Trout Pond (inside the Creekside Camp Center) and the Boat Shack (on the beach at Lakeview).
• The new Belly Flop snack shack, opening alongside the new Forest Center pool. It will serve refreshments as well as Hawaiian Shaved Ice and homemade Forest Home ice cream.
A Forest Home Outfitters clothing line is being launched this summer. We are introducing 11 unique Outfitters designs over a wide selection of men and women’s tanks and hoodies, women’s and unisex tees, and zipped jackets just to name a few.
We are bringing new food options to the Clubhouse:
• Adding hamburgers, with the option of “Build-Your-Own-Burger”
• Adding artisan sandwiches, both hot and cold
• Expanding our salad offerings
Last, we are extending our hours for the Clubhouse and Stagecoach Coffee. Our goal is to be open all hours of the day, from when you wake up till you go to bed.
CLICK PLAY to hear from our Director of Retail, Brandon Clarke, about all of these changes!
We can’t wait to hear how the Lord moves in campers’ lives this summer!
For other video updates, click on the links below.