By Jamie Warner –
Lush hills stippled with dense vegetation lace the two-lane country roads that lead into The Wilds Nature Preserve. Describing the Cabins at Straker Lake in Cumberland, Ohio, the newest site of Men’s Legacy Program, as “pretty” does it a disservice; it’s picturesque.
Seven cabins butt up to a horseshoe shaped lake. Trees line the shore everywhere except for in front of the structures. There, open grass and lake access made possible by a small dock in front of each cabin create a standing invitation to grab a fishing pole or kayak or jump in and enjoy the warm waters of Straker Lake. Each cabin is really a small house with a full kitchen, living and dining area, three bedrooms with two twin beds each, and two full bathrooms.
Centered on the bottom curve of the lake in the middle of the cabins sits a beautiful meeting lodge where we were able to hold classes, eat, and hang out. The modern barn-style design is appointed with beautiful wood and stone accents. In addition to table and chairs used for meals are comfortable couches and chairs for the Warriors to relax in as they soak in the information being presented. And to top it all off, the lake and cabins are situated within the nearly 10,000 acres of The Wilds Safari Animal Preserve. With thirteen student Warriors and twelve staff/instructors, to include MOF Founder Chad Robichaux, Executive Director Jeremy Stalnecker, and National Programs Director Branden Kunath, it wasn’t even a full-house. The Cabins can comfortably accommodate a total of 42 people.
In addition to the physical accommodations, the staff at The Wilds who support Mighty Oaks during the weeks we hold our Legacy Programs there are simply amazing – helpful beyond any expectation. We shouldn’t have been surprised though, because the Lord has blessed Mighty Oaks Foundation with partners and facilities just like this at all four of our Program locations. Pulling-off a week-long intensive program in a state halfway across the country is never easy, but it’s partners like the ones we have in Ohio, California, Texas, and Virginia that make it possible.
And as we have experienced with all of our Programs, God had His hand on this week too. Each Warrior found healing and purpose and hope as they pushed past the pain of trauma and difficult life experiences and made decisions to align his life to God’s created design. We had the opportunity to take a “Behind the Scenes” tour of the wild animal preserve, and while on the tour, we were able to meet and pet Rosco, a white rhino, up close and personally. We paused on Wednesday to have the official ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the grand opening of The Cabins. Numerous local officials and supporters as well as Columbus Zoo, The Wilds staff and leadership, and the Straker family were on hand to mark the occasion. As the week progressed, burdens were lifted, and moods lightened as Truth was presented throughout the week. It’s never an easy process, but it is a simple one. But, it’s worth the work. Yet, there was plenty of down time to reflect while fishing off one of the docks, relaxing on the porches of the cabins, venturing out onto the lake in a canoe or paddleboat, or swimming in the lake. During our testimony time, we heard plans to restore marriages and other family relationships, plans to refuse to isolate by staying connected to the brotherhood, and talk of reaching out to friends and family in order to pay it forward. Several of this week’s Warriors also made public their faith by being baptized in Straker Lake.
The 2018 Legacy season is about one-third complete now, and we at MOF are picking up steam as May marks the beginning of the busy summer season; we will complete 11 more Programs by the end of September. Keep all our Warriors, past and future, in your prayers. Pray for steadfastness, courage, and humility as they press forward into the fight. And please remember to pray for all of us here at Mighty Oaks as we continue to fight the Good Fight and stay committed to letting No Man Fight Alone.