Midway through my junior year in high school things began to change in a way I never would have expected. There were a few teen suicides in our small town (about 1400 people) and the pastor of our country full gospel church decided to start a separate church specifically for teens. We would have our own space to meet, our own pastor, our own services. We would organize our own worship. Kevin Wilson took on this task and Alpha and Omega Outreach was started.
A very short time into the teen church’s existence, Kevin hooked up with Alan Wyatt and the youth group at Living Word Ministries. That spring Living Word invited us to Harvest Ranch for a weekend retreat.over Easter weekend. Most of us experienced intimacy with God for the first time that weekend. It was brief and we generally went back to our lives, but it was a taste. That summer we went back to Harvest Ranch for summer camp. There were probably 20 or so of us. Our experience with God was such that we all came back with a different perspective on life.
Going back to school my senior year was like going on a mission field. I was determined it was my purpose to preach Jesus to everyone at school and usher in a revival. I read my Bible and prayed constantly. We would have impromptu prayer meetings and Bible studies with various teens from our church. Any dreams I had of going to college were pushed aside for dreams of becoming a preacher.
The summer after graduation I worked at Harvest Ranch. That fall a friend and I moved to South Bend with the dream of attending World Harvest Bible College. After two months of hanging out with Bible college students and not having a job, I moved back home. I worked at Walmart and attended Living Word in Frankfort until the next Summer when I went back to work at Harvest Ranch. After the summer I stayed on there as a full time volunteer at House of Prayer Ministries.
I spent from the summer of 1992 until June of 1995 living and working at the House of Prayer and Harvest Ranch, getting more deeply entrenched in my fundamentalist, self righteous ways. I held myself (and others) to the highest of standards with others at the church and the camp often complaining about my strict adherence to rules, often of my own creation.
Looking back on this time in my life is bittersweet. It was the time that taught me about passion and intimacy in my faith. But it also taught me self righteousness and judgement. But ultimately the foundational bricks of faith that were laid during this time would survive life’s storms. Eventually another, stronger house of faith would be built on that foundation. But that’s a later chapter.