Years ago, before we had found ourselves living on this property, Mike and I had a vision of “The House at the End of the Road” and living here, we technically are at the end of the private road driveway, but we are not at the end of a main road. In fact, the one place that I told Mike I didn’t want to end up near (Horneytown, NC) is within walking distance from the end of that private drive. God has a sense of humor.
We used to imagine helping people who BELIEVED that they were at the end of a road to realize that they in fact are not. God can help one remove a barricade or eradicate a block in order to keep moving forward into the unknown of renewal, reconciliation, restoration… the GREAT unknown.
Just a few months ago, to our surprise, these signs went up at the end of our driveway on the main road; now we are literally “the house at the end of the road.” If people drive past these signs (and many do), there are two small rundown homes on the left, one on the right, and a bridge that is out with the drop-off cliff into the creek below.
Mike has been collecting thoughts on the numerous (and I mean now into the thousands) of drivers who have ignored all of the preliminary warning signs since they first went up in early spring, thus making our “house at the end of the road” their personal turnaround point. However, that’s another post for another time.
We are overjoyed at the depth and the stories of life-change that have been taking place through the people who are Cre8ing with us from this home, as well as from inside and out of their own homes. If you read other blog posts, you will catch a glimpse of some of these stories.
Mike and I often feel like our ground work for this ministry’s beginnings are being set in motion for the future ministry work of our son to carry out. No one has as much heart and passion for Cre8 as Jeffrey Michael Shroyer, and he has kept us going with his passion many times in his eleven years of life. You know your child is destined for ministry when he turns eleven and receives his first iPod Touch, and on the first night before he goes to bed he shows Mom that he loves the Notes app and has listed top prayer requests for friends and family members, setting the clock timer to remind himself to pray. (True story.)
Today (and what caused me to sit and write this blog post) I couldn’t find him, and when I did, he was alone at a place on the property that we have named “the prayer rock,” praying for our troubled neighbor friends who had just left here to go back home. We could hear the abusive screams echoing across the area and over the pond water. A soundtrack of bellowing bullfrogs, and a dysfunctional cussing, human family. J Michael wants to see the turnaround, and refuses to give up on his friend. Yes, this young man has set his passions on God and on people. So, no, we won’t quit unless God removes all of these daily endeavors from our path.
Mike and I have been wanting to update you on the property for a quite while now, and today is a great day to do so. We’ve surprisingly been living here, with active community ministry taking place for two years, residing under a lease agreement that has barely been hanging on. The note is upside-down and the owner has been staving off foreclosure. The property itself is still rough around the edges because we have not been putting ministry monies into the land or the buildings, but rather into the PEOPLE as I have mentioned in other posts. Our Board and those who have supported us are NOT in support of our purchasing the property in an upside-down state, and we agree. So we have kept our monthly lease intact and have experienced active ministry here, while “for sale” signs have adorned the surroundings, never once seeing an interested buyer here for a showing.
Well… we have not felt led to do fundraising yet (we’re willing to, but we have been obedient to put all of our energy into praying). If you are familiar with a man from the 19th century, George Mueller, you can understand that sometimes God wants to do something that can only be accomplished through the power of praying people, in order to show Himself to BE. Sustainer. Provider. All-Sufficient. God.
A few weeks ago, the owner of this property, along with a friend of ours with expertise in banking and finance, and Mike met together to discuss steps to take in moving forward with purchase. If I told you the belief system of the owner and the prayers that our kids have prayed over him, you would find this as remarkable as we: the owner has offered to GIVE BACK to the ministry 60,000 dollars of what we have paid to him over the past two years to go toward a down-payment. This will be the SECOND time that money that we have put INTO this property will come back to be put again into this property to keep us here!
We are currently a debt-free ministry. People-growth and life-change is happening like we have never before experienced in “professional” ministry, and we are believing that when that bridge opens in the fall, this land and this ministry will be quite literally transformed from “The House at the End of the Road” to “Wide Open Acres.” The need is high, and people keep coming our way. We want to help them in ways that we cannot yet begin to help. For example, there are students—elementary school students!—falling out of the system, and we want to connect retired, loving people to work with these students to help them develop life-skills and love them strong into a motivated life that won’t be “end-of-the-road” living, but instead a Wide Open Way of Life!
We want to renovate “The Kennel” to become One Life Studio in order to open up a second, larger family worship space that also serves as a music studio and venue for local artists and their creative offerings. We want to have active walking trails, an artist studio and gardens. We hope to build a few “tiny houses” for helping families transition, and allow Cre8Home to be solely a retreat and ministry home. These ideas are only a few of the many.
The first thing that God needed to do, though (we just didn’t expect it to take two years) was to show us that AUTHENTIC community reveals how BROKEN the family (and people in general) are today. I’m not talking about non-Christians either. Church attendees are quite broken. We meet up with each other weekly, and when God turns on the lights and lets us see what is really gathering within the services, there is a collective… broken.
We have discovered that it takes “A Year in the One Life” to begin to heal, and for most, it takes a year and a half to be living with a renewed mind and walking in a new direction of Hope and Freedom. In order to not get burnt out, we “pass the torch” as if in a relay, championing FOR those in need. If I begin to feel like there is too much heaviness on my two shoulders, then I pass the torch to another friend, and soon they pass it along to another loving friend, until it comes back around to me.
People, please here me: It is possible to LOVE a person in need completely through to the renewed season that they so desperately want to discover. It does not happen through one hour-long service, one three-point sermon, or one get-together over coffee. If that person needs to rebuild while holding an empty toolbox, then WE need to rise to their aide with healthy life-tools, and teach them how to use them.
It. Takes. Time.
It. Takes. Together.
As Mike says often, “I can’t; but we can.”
THAT is what people need, and as a result, the true and endless love-one-another Love of Christ does not run dry.
I met a beautiful friend for lunch in Atlanta just a few months ago. She has been rebuilding her life after the devastating loss of her oldest, her son, to a tragic and unexpected death. She and I wept for hours in a small quaint café as she told me how her faith has been shaken to the very core, how she now lives with one foot here on earth and the other one already in Heaven with her beloved boy. She talked about how hard it is now for her and for her husband to listen to the Word preached in nice, neat formulas and step-by-step sermons when the entire floor had dropped out from beneath their faith, forcing them to get with God in such a raw and real way, as real as real can get.
As the conversation shifted into our lives in North Carolina and the stories of God’s touch in desperate people, she took my hand and said with tears, “Ami! I know what your ministry there is!”
“What is that?”
“Why yes! It is. Will you please explain what you mean?”
She went on to explain, “There is the family practice. The doctors and staff will see hundreds of patients and families, providing many of the same wellness checks, writing similar prescriptions, and what not. THEN there is the heart surgeon, or the brain surgeon. Those men and women get to know a family deeply as they walk them through a life-rescue, and those are the true life and death situations. A new heart. A new mind. That is what you and Mike and the families who serve with you are providing. Intensive Care. Life-change.”
I was supremely inspired by her words and called Mike from the car as I pulled away from that small café that day. The phrase “Intensive Care” has provided us with a much easier word picture to explain exactly what Wide Open Ministries and Cre8 Home/Cre8 Church men, women, and children are all about. We are simple people who simply know the Maker and the Creator — the Restorer of Broken Hearts, the Transformer of Suffering Minds, the Seer of the Seemingly Invisible, and the Author of the Unwritten New Page of one’s Tomorrow. Because we know Him, we are willing to walk alongside those who want to walk, even run, toward Him to find what is possible BEYOND the end of the road.
Mike has written a very succinct letter (I’m usually the not-so-succinct one) that explains the vision for this ministry and for this land. If you would be interested in knowing more, please contact me and I would be so happy to know that you are reading it and praying with us for all that lies ahead — financially, creatively, relationally, and above all, spiritually.
Now is the time. We have headed into this daily venture without fundraising, and in doing so, we can ONLY give honor to The Lord. Mike and I take on other jobs for our family to make ends meet, and it has been exhilarating to see the “storehouse” here going directly into helping families Be and Become, rather than into salary packages and other such things.
Thoughts and dreams of “the house at the end of the road” have gone from being conceptual into real One Life Stories of redemption and breakthrough. We are believing for the stability to move forward. The days of dreaming have transitioned, and it’s time to start building.
Please pray with us.
Thank you to those of you far away friends who have gotten involved in the ways that God has laid on your hearts to do so.
We are humbly grateful.
I hope to sit together again soon and tell of stories from The House at the End of the Road.
Better yet, I hope to be able to share stories of rebuilding and restoration along the Wide Open Way.
Living to Cre8 (because it’s a verb and not a location),