By Jamie Warner
You would think that after years of Legacy Programs, the process and outcomes would become routine.
Dare I say, boring?
That might be the case for some programs out there, but if your program’s Author, Creator and Director is the One that leads us (and I’m not talking about Chad or Jeremy… sorry guys), outcomes are anything but boring or predictable or routine.
They are miraculous.
This last week began like so many other Legacy Programs: twenty-four seasoned Warriors crisscrossed our great nation and converged on the rolling green hills — yes, we’ve had some rain and our hills are turning green — of SkyRose Ranch in sunny, but chilly, Central Coast California. (Okay, so it’s “California chilly”, not “East Coast chilly”, but it’s all relative, right?) The tension, pain, and anxiety were so thick in the air it seemed tangible. Participants often feel apprehensive as welcomes and introductions happen because they aren’t always sure of what they have gotten themselves into. Most know, or at least have some idea, that it’s a faith-based program, but what does that mean? Are they going to get someone’s theology or doctrine shoved down their throats? Are we going to smack them upside the head with the Bible? They’re on a remote ranch in the middle of nowhere. Can they escape if it gets weird?
But, by the close of the first night, MOWP Team Leaders and staff have put those fears to rest and the Warriors have already begun to see that this week has the potential to change their lives. Some go to bed that night excited for the week – all in. Some lay their heads down unsure of just how they feel about the night but desperate to do something, anything, that will have a different outcome.
The process is measured and methodical, and yet it’s only five days long. Years of therapy, medications, mistakes, do overs, and often little progress haven’t helped, so how can healing and hope be found in five short days?
Well, it can’t. And it doesn’t.
It really happens in a single moment.
In a single decision.
The decision is simple, yet the impact is profound. It’s the decision to align your life with Christ.
‘The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.’ Isaiah 9:2
As the staff and Warriors walked through the process together, there was a ringing in the air… not, despite the holiday season, the sound of jingle bells, but of the chains of bondage being broken and shed and hitting the floor. The sound of freedom and liberty as the men stepped out of the darkness and into the marvelous light.
How appropriate that this group of men attended Legacy Program during the Christmas season. If you remember the Christmas story, in Matthew 1: 20-23 says, “… an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…” Huh, do not be afraid, but Joseph had no idea what his future held. His fiancé was pregnant, and he wasn’t the biological father! And yet, he’s told do not be afraid. How could anyone move forward in difficult circumstances like Joseph’s and not fear? How can these 24 alumni move forward in the face of all that is waiting for them back home and not be afraid? But we’re told…
Why? Because the Creator has a plan, and He’s in control.
In fact, the Bible tells us to “Fear not” 365 times.
Not when you also consider how in Isaiah 7:14 the virgin birth of the Son of God is prophesied and it’s said that His name will be Immanuel, which means “GOD WITH Us.” When we live life aligned with our Creator, we cannot go anywhere without GOD WITH US. And if God is with us and we are following Him, there will be peace in the storms, purpose in the pain, hope in the hurt, and love everlasting.
It seems appropriate in this last Legacy Program blog for 2018 to look back and marvel at what God has done through Mighty Oaks’ Legacy Program this year. Across our four program sites in California, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia and our Men’s and Women’s Divisions, Mighty Oaks held 27 Legacy Programs nationwide this year. Approximately 525 men and women attended those programs. To some, that number may seem small, but to us, that 525 represents not just the attendees, but the families and friends of each of those men and women as well. It represents healing and restoration for the Warriors and all the people in their lives. You see, there is the obvious direct effect the Legacy Program has on those that attend, but there’s a ripple effect it has on those our Warriors “do life” with.