By, Robin Werling
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2
In mid-October, men from all over the country drove up the hilltop into the oasis we have come to know as SkyRose Ranch in California. The men were all looking for something they had lost. They looked to find what had eluded them; some form of hope or even joy which they had not felt in a long time, if ever.
Men who had once walked proud with heads held high, were now beaten down and bore the weight of shame and guilt. They limped along on unsteady legs with empty joyless eyes. They were worn out, looking for rest for their weary souls.
Many of these men were brought up in Christian homes, had gone to church, or had previously walked with God in some manner or another. Most had at some point in their lives though, stopped seeking to abide in Christ, or had never known Christ to begin with.
Jesus tells us multiple times to abide in him in John chapter 15. To abide, is to remain in place, to stay in, or to be present with. It is a state of being. The state of being for these men had become loneliness, anger, confusion, and hearts full of unforgiveness and despair. Some even despaired of life itself.
Over the next few days, the cadre of Mighty Oaks gave challenges asking them, “Do you want to get better?” The men were asked if they needed to return to the Father. There were classes on topics like why men need to fight, brotherhood, character, discipline, forgiveness, our common enemy, and marriage that would emphasize what God’s word has to say about all of these areas of life. All of these classes gave the men direction on how to gain traction on the enemy. But it was the legacy class where the true call to abide in Christ was given. The men were all given the chance to commit, or recommit their lives to Christ and to intentionally create a new legacy in which they would be proud to leave behind.
For most it was an easy decision. The Cadre lovingly poured out their hearts with testimonies of despair turned to hope. The former lives of pain and bad choices turned to joy found in a life of seeking and abiding in Christ. These raw and unfiltered experiences and testimonies of life all had a sad echo of familiarity to their own lives which was the reason that brought all these men to SkyRose.
The men saw that the trials were pathways to be able to bear more fruit as they were pruned. They saw a loving Father who desired a relationship with them.
Jesus tells us, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,” John 15:10. All the men who attended the week now proclaimed a desire to be in Christ’s love and
set a course to abide in Jesus. The men desired to strengthen their marriages, to be better fathers to their children, and to build a new legacy built on God’s word and steeped in his love. Some were baptized and moved from darkness to the light or recommitted to a life with Christ. Hope was restored and the path to joy in Christ was begun a new.
As the men departed Sky Rose, it was clear the Holy Spirit was alive and present and offered each man a personal call to make a dramatic transformation in their outward appearance and stoke the fire of their inward hope. The men were no longer isolated, felt alone, nor was a hint of despair seen. Joy and hope were on full display as a new walk of abiding in Christ was begun. Please keep them, and all men and woman who attend our programs, in your prayers to continue the work which God renewed in their lives.