Joshua Tree 2011 Testimonies

Joshua Tree Excursion
March 9 - 17, 2011

Eleven WilderneSS participants trekked into the desert this past March and spent five days in isolating solitude in order to seek the Lord. Read what each has to say about their time in the desert.

“WilderneSS is very unique, encouraging, and life changing. God spoke very specifically to me about my family, my church, and my life. I have spent thousands of dollars over the years on conferences but I can honestly say I got more out of WilderneSS than all the others combined."
Robbie McAlister, 54, Pastor, Columbia, SC




“God spoke clearly, precisely, and with authority into my life here. He met me on the first day and I received so much that I felt I was done, but the Lord continued every day. God clearly spoke to me to live slower, more reflectively, more prayerfully. I learned God is eager to meet me and will do so if only I slow down enough to listen. I believe this trip will be a watershed event in my life and ministry."
John Hever, 47, Pastor, Orlando, FL




“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but without a doubt one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t think I will ever be the same. God got down deep into my soul and showed me how to give up control to him. This was maybe the first time I truly felt Jesus being the shepherd of my soul. I need to create more times of solitude in my life. They all can’t be big times like this but there needs to be spaces of time in my week where I get alone with God."
Chad Oltman, 39, Pastor, Minneapolis, MN



“This has been one of the deepest and most forming trips I’ve been on. I really feel like this has marked a turning point for me in my faith. I’ve experienced intimacy (with God) I had been lacking for so long in my faith. I’ve learned that close communion with God involves sacrifice. I can’t complain about God being distant if I’m not making spending significant time with him a priority."
John Azoni, 26, Fine Artist/Worship Leader, Detroit, MI




“On the third day I was staring at the mountains and I heard God tell me ‘Persevere’ - it shattered my heart. In saying, ‘persevere’, he told me that he knew everything that was going on with me and that he created me and that I was supposed to have all these struggles. I have many problems and for God not to address those but just say, ‘persevere’ - I don’t know - it means a lot to me and it’s hard to explain. I don’t want to be as angry anymore - at God - at humans. I just want to persevere."
Jonathan Yankee, 26, Servant Leader, Detroit, MI



“Biblical truths I’ve known for years were finally able to sink from my head to my heart. Like the Desert Fathers I needed this time to swim for my life. The odd thing is that it wasn’t until I was out here that I realized I needed rescuing. I don’t know how I could stay in ministry without times like these."
Chad Frank, 34, Pastor, Kent State University, OH




“This trip felt like an extravagant gift from the Lord. To have extended time to spend praying, thinking, reading the Word, and worshipping was amazing. I hope this is something I can do on a consistent basis."
Matt Wilcoski, 43, Pastor, University of Illinois




“Being this is my fifth WilderneSS trip you would think that I would be more prepared and able to weather the storm. I always forget how hard the days are out in the desert. But God showed me a lot. My best moment was when God asked me to dream and I wrote out my dreams. I had the sense that God wanted to meet me in those dreams. These trips are always good for my journey - it’s a needed time for reflection and intimacy."
Beau McCarthy, 37, Pastor, Detroit, MI



“My takeaways are: keep seeking to know him and be known by him, he cares for the heart, and don’t underestimate what God can do through me."
Larry Faithful, 52, IT, Columbia, SC





“WilderneSS has helped me to have a clear and constant reminder that God is near. As a result I’m able to accept his forgiveness much more readily. Grace is more real - less of a concept. Learning that there is a reason for having joy in my salvation is something I want to cling to for a long time."
Cannon Ingalls, 38, Paramedic, Columbia, MO




"On the third day of solitude and fasting God started talking to me. I didn’t have my journal so I ran and got it. God spoke to me about relationships and idols in my life. I know that God will continue to use this time to point things out to me in the weeks to come."
Michael Iley, 34, Investment Consultant, Detroit, MI