The Start of Something New
Saturday marked the end of our summer season. It was the end of a long 13 weeks, and as we waved goodbye to our final summer campers, spent hours cleaning and preparing for the fall season, and celebrated with our remaining college staffers, it was bittersweet, because we knew it marked the end of a chapter for us.
We are stepping out in faith toward a plan for God's been developing in us for the last 10+ years. We've been praying and gathering wisdom and advice from friends and those we respect, and we're ready to announce what we've been thinking about.
A Long Time in the Making
In the summer of 2005, while working for my first season in Yellowstone, God gave me a vision for a Christian ministry that would take people into wilderness areas and teach them to see God's glory in His incredible creation, live in biblical community, and empower them to reach and serve those around them after they get back home. Claire's had similar illuminating experiences, starting back in 2007 when she began training others in leadership skills while running University of North Texas' Eagle Camp. When God brought us together, we knew God wanted us to glorify him in our love of the outdoors and adventure, so we served together in young adult ministry and brought lots of friends into the wild. About a year after we were married, He opened the door for us to enter into full-time outdoors ministry, and we moved to Camp Wilderness Ridge.
We've been doing this life of full-time ministry in the outdoors for the last 6 years, and it's been a wild ride. It's also been a huge learning experience. God has used this time to hone and discipline us, make us trust Him more, develop new skills, and inspire us to new ideas. The experience of re-envisioning the ministry of Wilderness Ridge at Forest Glen Springs over the last year fired me up and affirmed some spiritual gifts that others had seen in me previously. Claire and I believe it helped prepare us for this coming season.
Stepping Out in Faith: The First Two Steps
Step 1) Relocate & Reconnect
Our first step is taking a step back, with the purpose of reconnecting as a family and with re-commitment to our own spiritual discipline. So, we'll be at Forest Glen Springs through the first three retreat weekends of the year, after which we'll be moving to our beloved refuge in the mountains of Northern New Mexico--the McCall family cabin--the week of September 11.
We're very sad to leave the many, many people who have been through our programs or supported us at Camp Wilderness Ridge and Forest Glen. I am very proud to have led Wilderness Ridge through the transition, and I hope that Claire and I leave behind a legacy here that glorifies God. We are praying that the relationships with campers, parents, staff, and supporters that we've developed over the years will continue as we move forward. We'll also be leaving our family, who have moved closer or been very involved over the last few years, a little bit farther behind. We're ready to host family and friends up in the mountains of New Mexico, though!
There's been many times in scripture where God has led people to leave comforts of family/stability and "go to the land I will show you" to expand God's glory in a new place or by new means, and we feel very comfortable stepping into this uncertainty of not knowing what exactly that looks like yet. (NOTE: I'm not equating myself with Abram or his call in Genesis 12, but God certainly has made a theme of our marriage trusting Him through massive changes.)
Step 2) Clarify our "Why" and "How"
We'll be gathering a team of people to bounce ideas off of and critique our "why" and "how." I'm pulling those words from Simon Sinek's incredible organizational leadership book, Start With Why, which helped give a little framework to the vision that Claire and I have had for years. His premise is that, when starting a new venture, often people start with WHAT the organization will do without considering WHY those things might matter, and that it's far better to start with a mission that makes sense and build programs out from HOW that mission can best be accomplished.
We have ideas and a general direction. We even have some processes in place. I had the opportunity in 2015-2016 to dream up, propose, plan, and execute Wilderness Ridge Adventures, which was a huge exercise in the behind-the-scenes part of backcountry adventure programs. But I want to be clear that this won't be "Wilderness Ridge Adventures 2.0." Which is why we want to go to the drawing board and make sure that what we are launching into is something that will 1) make a difference and 2) have a market. I don't want to dream up a plan for something that sounds really cool but has no impact on the kingdom of God, and I also want to make sure that people will see the value and want to be a part of it.
Through this process, everything will be on the table. Though we think that the cabin in Mora and the land surrounding it is an ideal setting for Christian leadership ministry, if after spending this next season up there praying and planning, we discern that the best way to serve the mission is to move back to Texas, we will! And we'll be thankful we got to plan and prepare in a beautiful place.
Our tentative mission (the WHY) as of now revolves around Ephesians 4:11-13
Claire and I both have spiritual gifting centered around teaching and leadership. We've spent the last 10+ years (first separate, then later as a team!) developing our own themes and lessons based on biblical truth. In the last few years, a lot of that has been firmed up into a curriculum for servant-leadership through Wilderness Ridge and Forest Glen Camps.
We believe God is calling us to develop a program that will bring older teens, college students, young adults, and ministry leaders into wilderness settings where they will experientially learn servant-leadership and leave equipped to better serve their churches, communities, and world.
Claire and I think that God's incredible creation provides a great backdrop for learning about how God wired us. Also, the wilderness provides so much opportunity for leadership lessons.
I've got much to say on this, so more to come in another post...
How will we make it?
First, we'll depend on the Lord. That means a lot of prayer. We would appreciate your prayers too. See the link below to join our prayer newsletter, which we will be reviving from a long slumber.
Second, we'll depend on each other. God has made a theme for our marriage "hold fast and become one." (Genesis 2:24) We're excited for what this adventure means for our family.
Third, we'll depend on the wisdom and input from family, friends, and experts in the field. I've already spent a lot of time talking and getting advice, and this won't end just because we're a little farther away. We'll start developing a core team, which eventually will evolve into a board of directors for the eventual 501(c)3 organization. As we continue to explain what we think God's leading us to do, if it strikes a chord with you, please consider getting involved.
We'll also be doing some side-hustles. I think the Christian missionary version of this term would be "tent-making." (Acts 18:3)
1) LLR Claire Turner
Claire has been killin' it with LuLaRoe. Honestly, the people who will likely read this post first will be from her Facebook community. (THANK YOU, LADIES!) She's been doing well enough that we believe this will be our main income for the next season of life. I've been learning her processes, and will be helping with things like photography, inventory, and shipping--and maybe even some live videos. We're looking forward to working together on this!
Be sure to like LuLaRoe Claire Turner on Facebook here:
2) Freelance design and creative work
I'll be updating my portfolio on this site and reaching out to our new community (the bustling metropolis of Mora, NM, and surrounding northern New Mexico) as well as the interwebs. If you've got a creative job you need done, whether it's a logo design, website, print media, or custom t-shirts, drop me a line. Heck, if you want to schedule a visit to the cabin and include a family photoshoot, let's talk.
3) Anything else we have to do to make it work
Look, we're pretty hard-working folks, and I remember when my step-dad went to seminary, he had to work a bunch of jobs and we still ate beans and rice. We're ready to do what needs to make this happen.
Things Are Getting Exciting!
We have a lot more to share. Please consider joining our Prayer Newsletter and committing to pray for us.
Also, please drop us a line and let's talk! Claire and I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in Christ,
Bryan "Taco" Turner