Joshua Tree 2007 Testimonies

Joshua Tree Excursion
January 26 - February 3, 2007

Last winter nine WilderneSS participants experienced 120 hours of isolating solitude in the desert. Click on 'read more' to learn how God used the time to refine their lives and deepen their relationship with him.

"This was the hardest but most rewarding time I've ever spent with the Lord. The first four and a half days were hard. I've never been more drained in my life. But in God's perfect timing he brought me Matthew 11:28-30. I wept at his love for me and rejoiced at his strength and renewing power. After that moment my time became one of Jesus speaking to me through his word. It was like the words jumped out of the page at me. WilderneSS has helped me know on a soul level how to seek His strength and not my own and has cemented in me the reality of my need for daily restoration through Jesus." Mark Jordan, 35, Software Developer - Plainfield, Illinois.

"Spiritually WilderneSS forced me to a place that I would not have gone on my own accord. Physically and emotionally it took me to my limits to where all I could do was cry out to Jesus. My first three and a half days were a struggle, I kept hitting a wall. I felt loud and annoying and God seemed silent. The only voice I heard was 'try harder' and I know this not to be the voice of God. Finally I was moved to read Hebrews and that's when it all came together for me. My eyes were opened more widely to his love and his rest and finally I was able to enter into it. I believe that the rest of the year will bear the fruit of these days. This is my second WilderneSS trip and I will be considering doing something like this every year." Beau McCarthy, 33, Art Director / Teaching Pastor - Genesis, Detroit, Michigan.

"Days one and two (of solitude) I was pretty frustrated because I heard nothing (from God). So by day three I was pretty exasperated, but that's when things took off for me. I got down in a place where I could pray and read and God really laid it on me. Probably the biggest thing I'll walk away with from this trip is simply that I am loved by God Almighty and that defines me, not how people think of me. I take away from this time things that I must look back on and remember - things I need for the future." Mark Rohlfing, 32, GCM Pastor - Ball State University.

"The whole experience was easily the most demanding thing I've ever done on purpose ... it really forced me into God. WilderneSS has shown me how my compulsions (food, email, TV) tend to govern my free time. Now I know I can do without them and how much I really do enjoy being with God. I'm also thinking differently about who I am. In the wild nobody can see your gifts or talents so you cannot be defined by them. I'm learning that I have value and worth to God independently of anything I try to 'do' for God publicly. I've learned how much I need God and how energizing it is to be near Him." Steve Norman, 32, Lead Pastor - Genesis, Detroit, Michigan.

"I was most fearful that God would not show up. That I would be alone, truly alone for five days. In the end I really loved WilderneSS because I felt sustained, nourished, and encouraged by God alone. WilderneSS is unlike anything else I've experienced. I've never fasted three days or spent a week in the desert in solitude, but more than that I feel an intimacy with God I haven't felt before. Last night, the last night of solitude as I watched the sun go down I felt encouraged by God that this doesn't end, that the desert goes with me because God comes with me." Caren Hunter, 30, Family Ministries - Genesis, Detroit, Michigan.

"It was physically draining. I have never been more exhausted, hungry, or cranky in all my memory. The third night of the fast I could not believe how angry I was - cursing and flailing and hoping for the whole thing to be over. I did not know how to be alone with God. It forced me to seek Him. It forced me into dealing with who I am. Ultimately it forced me to be honest with God. It has changed me forever." Nicholas Monterosso, 23, Consultant Trainee - Detroit, Michigan.

"This is the hardest thing I have ever experienced emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. The five days of solitude were very, very challenging. The first couple of days I resisted God. By the third day I was kind of angry with God because he hadn't spoken to me the way that I wanted him to. God showed me the true disposition of my heart and how ugly I really am. I would rather fantasize about eating an apple than spend that time crying out to God ... that is pretty sad. Then on the evening of the third night I started reading the bible and the words seemed to jump off the page at me. God really spoke to me after that through his word. I think this time will have a lasting effect on my life ... it has been the journey of a lifetime ... I think it is going to take some time to fully process all that has transpired here." Josh, 27, Finance Analyst - Detroit, Michigan.

"My time during WilderneSS was probably the single most important thing I could have done in my life right now. My connection with God was unbelievable. Each day I could feel layers of this 'false' Jamie (ego) being peeled away and the soil of my heart began to soften. I am so humbled that God showed up for me. This was my first experience of really coming to him in a way where nothing was in the way. I really learned about God's grace and his love for us as individuals. My time at WilderneSS will have a lasting impact on my life." Jamie Schafer, 25, IT Auditor/Risk Management - Detroit, Michigan.

"The practice of fasting and solitude has all but vanished off the screen of mainstream Christianity but here in the wilderness God used both to sharpen me. I have learned that I am more sinful than I hoped and God is more gracious and merciful than I could have imagined. I can not go back unchanged because that would be denying the work Christ did here. God lead me through scripture and has given me specific applications that will directly change my daily pursuit of Christ and interactions with others. My hope is that it has reinvigorated my commitment to have Christ at the center of my marriage, parenting, and ministry." Drew Hunter, 29, Family Ministry Director - Genesis, Detroit, Michigan.