Rich and Linda continue their story…
[dropcap]As[/dropcap] we learned what it means to walk in the Spirit and found true unity in our marriage, we began to see that the natural outflow of what God has done in our lives is to give it away to others.
GIVING IT AWAY
We began to ask God about how He wanted us to share the truths He was revealing to us. We had always had a desire to see Godly, thriving marriages. But now God had given us a message about unity and abiding together in God that would bring transformation to how couples lived and worked together. So, while living part-time in Chicago for business, we began to host a “date night” for couples. Linda and a friend cooked a meal and about 30 couples gathered once a month to start to learn the practices the Lord had given us of listening and abiding in Him.
During these times we taught about handling conflict, walking in the Spirit, abiding in the Word, and unity. As we did this faithfully, more opportunities came to teach and disciple others. Over time, by repetition and the Spirit’s leading, these teachings became more structured and formalized.
The natural outflow of what God has done in our lives is to give it away to others
THE BEGINNINGS OF SOMETHING SPECIAL
During this season of growth and opportunities to teach, our son was traveling in Europe and discovered a castle that could be rented as a group vacation spot. We decided to invite some friends for a holiday together. All in all, four couples came plus our kids.
On the first day, completely unplanned, we started with a devotion before we were heading out for sightseeing. We had nothing prepared, and the Spirit started leading us to certain Bible verses. We started in John 8 where it talks about abiding in Him, and spent time sharing with each other, reading other scriptures, listening to God’s voice. What started as a short, simple devotional time went on for over three hours! Everyone experienced God in a supernatural yet completely natural and personal way. We all enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again the next day.
For seven days in a row, we began with Scripture reading and listening to God. We continued to meditate on passages together around theme of abiding and walking in the Spirit. This first, informal retreat had been an important time of God speaking directly to each person’s life. Each person was hearing directly from the Lord. The next steps of direction for our lives in the most difficult, confusing or sticky areas was made clear. It was a major shift in our lives, every single one of us. At the end of our getaway together, we prayed “How do we end this?” God responded by giving us this simple exercise to practice: Ask, “What does God have to say to you right now?” — and wait on Him to answer.
What does God have to say to you right now?
ALL FOR JESUS AND BEYOND
This started a practice that we’ve followed in many other retreats. It wasn’t about a vacation–it was about spending time with God, listening to what He would have to say. We knew that God wanted more people to experience Him in a personal and transformative way. He was saying, “Keep it up.” That first vacation led to more trips with small groups of friends. We started calling them “All For Jesus” retreats after a beautiful song that captured the spirit of what we were doing. We held a series of weekend retreats in France and saw so much transformation in people’s lives!
Then God told us, “Now start doing this in your house”.