Real People, Real Stories
If you have never taken a personal retreat or been on a group retreat, the thought of taking that first step can be a bit intimidating. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from receiving all the blessings God wants to shower on you through retreating with Him! Here are a few personal testimonies…real stories from real people to encourage you.
Refueled and Ready
Tom and Carol, day retreat guests from Martinsville, Indiana
Thank you so much for the wonderful hospitality that you showered our church group with on the 21st of May. We all lead such busy lives and for us to stop and have a place like that to come to and just breathe and be able to study God’s word and have peace and quiet for a whole day with those you love and respect is absolutely awesome.
Because of the death of our pastor’s wife, we needed that closeness and togetherness. You opened your doors with love and generosity and made our day one to truly remember. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming and the food was out of this world good!
God has really given you two special gifts and we are so happy that you shared some of them with us. We each discovered some of our special gifts as well and feel God leading in specific directions. Thank you and REST Ministries for the opportunity to do this. We are refueled and ready to let God direct our paths.
REST Ministries is Greatly Needed
Louise, a day retreat guest from Martinsville, Indiana
Our community is greatly in need of something like REST Ministries. We need a quite place to get away from the fast paced everyday life. Several people from our church spent a quite day at Shepherd’s Gate Inn just recently. I am hoping to attend a retreat or just a quite day at this special place again soon!
What a Wonderful Experience
Ken and Carol, day retreat guests from Martinsville, Indiana
Thank you for hosting our retreat. It was a wonderful experience. The food and hospitality were great! Thanks again for being such wonderful servants of God. You are a blessing to us and others!
“I was very close to walking away from ministry”
Becky Moore – Mephibosheth Ministries
A year ago, I was very close to walking away from the ministry that God placed on my heart in 1995. The demands I placed on myself after 15 years of serving persons with developmental disabilities coupled with the loss of my mother to Alzheimer’s had taken a toll on me. With the love and encouragement of Rest Ministries and Bruce Cameron of Rainbow Christian Camp I learned what God intended ministry to look like, far different from “my” way. Through implementing the disciplines of scheduled sabbaticals, prayer and fasting, I am on the way to leading through God’s Mighty Power, rather than relying on my own strength. Strongholds that were preventing the mission to moving forward were torn down. Doors opened within a 21 day Daniel Fast that had been shut for three years!
Just as one spark can ignite a forest fire, watching my experience ignited the Board of Directors. On January 21st & 22nd thirteen members of the staff and Board of Directors of Mephibosheth Ministries had the privilege of participating in an overnight retreat at Shepherd’s Gate Inn. This was something “I” had tried to make happen for several years, but this time God made it happen! Through Chuck & Becka”s teachings from “The Heart of a Leader” we have been inspired and encouraged to lead this mission through God’s Power and not our own. We eagerly anticipate God to reveal Himself in Mighty ways this year! Plans for our next year’s retreat have been discussed and we have extreme faith that it will be a celebratory event for what God has accomplished in and through us for His glory! We have already seen God moving on our behalf as we have faced the challenges of the unique ministry God has entrusted to us. As Chuck says…”Bring it on God!”
Lead The Way!
Noah – Macy, Indiana
When I arrived at the Shepherd’s Gate Inn, I had one plan and one plan alone: I was going to write at least two chapters in my developing novel. This was something that I had been attempting to conquer for several weeks prior to my visit to the retreat center, but nothing had come to fruition. Because of my rather inconsistent writing habits, I thought that being out in nature at a beautiful house, and away from the noisy distractions of life, was just what I needed to get a jump-start on my authorship. This was my plan. What I soon learned was that what I planned and what God knew I needed were two entirely different phenomena.
It was my mother who actually planted the thought of spending a few days at the Shepherd’s Gate into my mind. She had been at the retreat center a few weeks before for a ladies retreat, and she fell in love with the facility. She also suggested that I ask my father whether or not he would like to join me. What readers must understand is that the relationship between my father and I has been strained at times throughout my life. We have always loved each other wholeheartedly, but we simply do not have a lot in common. After considering her suggestion, I thought it would be a good thing for us to be together for a few days, but I also made it clear to him that I would be spending a lot of time alone. He decided to go with me and have a personal retreat of his own, a decision that couldn’t have been more positive.
Chuck and Becka Lehman greeted us warmly when we arrived, and I was instantly in awe of the spectacular flora and fauna surrounding the retreat center. If that weren’t enough, the house itself was immaculate, offering the most comfortable accommodations I had ever seen. My dad and I settled into our separate rooms, and then I quickly took off outside to follow the first steps of my plan. This included praying, reading the Bible, and finally writing in my book. I never passed the first phase of the three. As soon as I began to petition for this, or ask forgiveness for that, God very audibly said, “Noah, be still.” Now God had spoken to me in the past, but never had I felt so convicted to listen. He then proceeded to explain to me that even though I had my plans, His plan was all I needed. In order to start His plan, however, I needed to drop all of my burdens, hopes, desires, fears, and plans at His feet. While at first taken aback, I did just as He said. Like a thick wax melting under a flame, my worldly mantle began to fall from my shoulders. I suddenly knew why God had brought me to Shepherd’s Gate: I was to grow closer to Him.
A magnificent feast was prepared for my father and I when we went upstairs to one of the dining rooms. Though the food was superb, the conversation with Chuck and Becka was amazing. As they told story after story about the retreat center, God revealed to me that this was truly a blessed place, and that they were blessed caretakers. I couldn’t help but smile throughout the entire time of discussion, and was rather sad when we dismissed for bed. I had not only heard God earlier that day, but I had seen Him in the glistening eyes of Chuck and Becka.
And while I could tell a hundred stories about my time at the Shepherd’s Gate Inn, I was most impacted by what God did with me the next day. Both my dad and I went walking separately on some of the amazing paths that surround the retreat center that next morning. Using this as a time of natural exploration and spiritual introspection, we came back from our hikes feeling refreshed. Following lunch, I wanted to go on another path, but this time I did something that probably shocked my father: I asked him to join me. He had been under the impression that we were on individual retreats and that I wanted to be alone, but he swiftly accepted my offer. We went deeper and deeper into to the woods as we searched for a cemetery (which, I might add, we never did find). And then something happened that I did not expect. My dad, whom I had always viewed as invincible, had to slow down. Not only was he winded, but he had also hurt himself on one of the fallen trees on a path. Suddenly I found myself leading the way, making decisions on both pace and direction. I even stopped and fashioned a walking stick for my dad so that his venture would be easier. When we later reflected on this small role reversal, he admitted that he was proud that I had taken control when he needed it most. My dad and I had finally connected, and it wasn’t because of a wooden walking stick. It was because of God.
I have called the Shepherd’s Gate Inn a retreat center several times throughout this article, but that is incorrect. The Shepherd’s Gate Inn is a retreat home. I have never felt God’s presence stronger than when I was at that sanctified place. For Christians, heaven is home. This means that whenever we can get a foretaste of heaven, as I did while at the Shepherd’s Gate Inn, we feel at home. My relationships with my Father and my father are not perfect, but both have drastically improved since my visit to the Shepherd’s Gate Inn. Although I cannot speak for what God wants to do in your life, I know He’s waiting for you to simply listen. If you don’t know how, don’t worry. Go to the Shepherd’s Gate Inn without a plan, and God will do the rest.
Shepherd’s Gate Inn…My Refuge!
Steve a Pastor in Normanda, Indiana
…The best word I can find to describe the work that goes on at REST Ministries and Shepherd’s Gate Inn is “Refuge.” It is a place of rest and renewal from the rigors of full-time ministry. Ministries like REST Ministries are a blessing from God! He shows up in times of retreat and refreshes my soul unlike any other time of personal study.
Chuck & Becka Lehman provide wonderful hospitality in the form of delicious meals, luxurious accommodations, spiritual guidance and much-needed rest. I pray God blesses the work that goes on there.
I highly recommend any and all financial support that can be directed toward REST Ministries and Shepherd’s Gate Inn. It is a necessity in the lives of people who simply want to retreat from the world and be renewed in the presence of God.
REST Ministries Rescued My Soul
Chris (referred by Steve – see previous letter), pastors two churches in Windfall, Indiana
…As you can imagine, pasturing two churches and raising a young family can take its toll. Last winter I was feeling the strain like never before. Somewhere along the way I started to operate out of my own strength. That strength was soon depleted. I was left depressed, wanting to leave ministry and suicidal. This is no exaggeration.
God used REST Ministries and Shepherd’s Gate Inn to rescue my soul…Chuck & Becka took me in the night I called. They gave me a place to rest, guidance for renewing my relationship with God and generous hospitality.
Today I am experiencing God doing marvelous work in me. I have joy renewed in my spirit, more energy and productivity than I have had in years and a deep affirmation that I am doing what God wants me to do. REST Ministries was and is (I have returned since) a crucial part of my turnaround.
Shepherd’s Gate Inn, an Immeasurable Blessing!
Mark and Shelly from Kokomo, Indiana
…We know that you do this because you enjoy doing it and you realize the importance of sabbatical rest. Nevertheless, we just want to make sure that you understand how much we appreciate everything you do to make this a reality for individuals, couples and groups.
Shelly and I can’t begin to know much work is involved, how much planning and preparation you must have to do each and every day in anticipation of the guests’ arrival. Your work to ensure that not one minute of the guests’ day is spent on the normal, everyday anxieties of life, but instead, allowing them to refocus on their journey with God is an immeasurable blessing!
So, Chuck and Becka, we want to express our sincere thanks to you for all that you do to arrange and facilitate ours and everyone else’s retreat. You really are a shining example of what it means to be servant minded. Thank you both so very much!
I Had Been Wallowing in the Desert
Angela from Wheaton Illnois
…When I came to the Shepherd’s Gate Inn I believed the stay was to be about ME…After all I had been wallowing in the desert for so long. But the Lord met me as I poured over his attributes (with help from written material our hosts, Chuck & Becka had provided). Although I didn’t see it right away, He beckoned me to make these three days about Him and to give them to Him and even more, he called my heart, mind and soul to reconnect with him and give ALL of my days to Him.
With all of my simple, life necessities at my hand (snacks, meals…comfort abounds, thus rest was made easy!) It wasn’t necessary for me to ever leave. I was able to stay the course and keep pursuing Christ. The supper fellowship, a time I always cherish with my own family, proved so satisfying to my physical body and to the depths of my soul.
Our hosts made my husband and me feel so at ease, so welcomed, making it ever so much easier as they encouraged us to be in prayer alone but also with one another. They also invited us to meet with them individually if we wished, a time for me that I still cherish and meditate on today.
I came to the Inn living as if in a cement gray block and left able to see glimpses of baby green leaves that were just beginning to dot the tips of the branches.
I so appreciated the solitude and the ability to see God through his creation without so many of the everyday, worldly distractions. To be able to BE STILL and once again Know that HE IS TRULY GOD
The Answer to Spiritual Tug-of-War
John, Angela’s husband (the letter above) Wheaton, Illinois
My wife Angela and I Just spent a few days at Shepherd’s Gate Inn, it was awesome. After the envy of the amazing property, we settled in for our retreat. We left any expectations at home and had an open mind to let God speak. REST gave me the chance to stop the world and get off for a few days. Time to pray, read, and rest.
I have written in my journal more at REST (Shepherd’s Gate Inn) than all my prior life. I was able to put pieces in place of how God has been speaking to me. I have had this analogy of the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other playing tug-of-war…the one who is winning is the one I feed more. I know this is not true but I have a hard time to leave the little things at the cross I try and keep the grip on the rope with the angel. I know this is humanism and I need to not diminish the power of the cross but let go. It was right in front of me but I was able to focus at REST.
Shepherd’s Gate Inn, One of the Most Memerable Times of Our Lives!
Gavin and Glenda from NSW Australia, missionaries to the nations of India, Romania, Uganda and Zambia, equipping pastors
…We have a very demanding ministry that takes us to distant corners of the world and into some very challenging situations. Finding time to stop, rest and reflect is not easy and when it comes we need a special place. For us, Shepherd’s Gate Inn is one such place.
In November 2010, after 8 years of continuous travel and ministry, we took a much needed break to spend time with the Lord, re-evaluate our ministry and do some planning for the future. Chuck & Becka Lehman were our hosts and Shepherd’s Gate Inn provided the perfect environment for the rest and refreshment we needed.
We stayed at Shepherd’s Gate Inn for three weeks and it will always be one of the most memorable times of our lives…we will be forever grateful for those precious three weeks. For Servants of the Lord, a place such as Shepherd’s Gate Inn is a wonderful blessing. We cannot speak too highly of the work of REST Ministries and the graciousness of Chuck & Becka.
We Are Coming Back Soon
Mark, a pastor in Westville, Indiana
…My wife and I were granted the opportunity to stay a couple of nights (with REST Ministries) and just take a mini-sabbatical from the daily grind of ministry. Both Chuck and Becka made themselves available to us if need be and we enjoyed an evening in their home, in fellowship around the goodness of God and learning more about REST MInistries.
We have already scheduled ourselves another retreat in October of this year and are looking forward to the rest and relaxation ministries such as REST Ministries provides…we’ve been blessed by the special ministry of REST Ministries and look forward to enjoying a long relationship with the Lehman’s.
A Needed Facet of Kingdom Work
Joshua from Indianapolis, Indiana
Thank you both for the soft pleasure of Christian fellowship. Let me encourage and underscore that you both are needed in this facet of kingdom work…
REST Makes a Difference in So Many Lives
Craig and Lindsey, now missionaries in Puerto Rico
As we pray for what God has in store for us, we continue to thank Him for you two. Thank you for what you do and for making a difference in so many lives. What you offered us through words and encouragement has helped us as we seek to possibly go to Puerto Rico.
God continues to do amazing things for us and in us. Because of the blessing that you are to us we wanted to give you this gift to help further your ministry…you have been on our hearts.
Prompted by God to Write You at 3:00 AM!
Shelly from Kokomo, Indiana
God woke me up @ 3:00 am on my last night here, with the two of you on my mind. As I laid there, I just couldn’t get this thought out of my head and I felt very prompted to write it to you. I don’t want this to sound like empty flattery, because I mean it in the most sincere, heartfelt way!
You both, in the short time I have spent with you, have been such a wonderful inspiration to me. From the first time I talked to you on the phone, I felt such a love, God’s love, pouring out of you both. That is why I felt so free to share…to share some of the experiences I have had.
You both are a perfect example of having a servant’s heart and God shines so brightly through both of you. I thank God for leading me to such a beautiful (that’s an understatement!!) place and the blessing of meeting both of you…
My Meeting With God Still Reverberates In Me
Paula a Christian Counselor in Mooresville, Indiana
God calls us to come away with Him. Jesus demonstrated a life of often going off by Himself to commune with the Father. Jesus tells us to abide in Him. God gave the Sabbath for our benefit. How easy to neglect the rest and communion with Him that God offers. How easily this time is pushed out by other things. So much pulls us away, but Rest Ministries helped pull me back.
My name is Paula. I have been a Christian counselor for the past nine years at a church in Mooresville, Indiana. I live with Jesus daily and depend on Him moment by moment. I had been praying and seeking God for a time and place to withdraw and spend focused time with Him. When I heard from a friend about Shepherd’s Gate, I prayerfully and quickly arranged to spend some time there.
The times I spent at Shepherd’s Gate – just a few days – were deeply re-creational for me, renewing my soul and life and bonding me closer to God. I came home renewed in spirit, and that experience, meeting God there in the hills of Morgan County, still reverberates in me.
Here are a few highlights from my stay:
– Quiet times to read, write, and pray – blessed solitude
– An afternoon spent reflecting and taking in nature in a nearby mid-19th century cemetery
– A room and a home permeated with prayer and peacefulness
– A chance to disconnect from technology, including my cell phone
– Time spent with God on the trampoline, which I fondly renamed the “jump and pray”
– Sharing sumptuous dinners prepared by Chuck and Becka , listening as they and the other guests shared their God stories and sharing my own
– Hearing God’s voice and letting Him speak to me through nature, as with the instance below:
On my last day there, I sat watching the pond, reflecting on Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” I caught sight of a dark form in the water below, a stick? A snake? I didn’t know. I sidled closer, trying, if it was a living thing, not to scare it away. It was a fish (a grass carp, I later learned) about two feet long. As I watched, more carp became visible. They glided through the water, sometimes individually, sometimes interacting with one another.
“Be still and know that I am God,” I reflected, then heard within my soul, “Be still and know that I am the Pond and you are the fish.” The verse came to mind, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) This may not seem that earth-shattering, but it was an overwhelming revelation to me. As I watched, God was showing me, “I’ve got you surrounded. You’re literally swimming in me.” And the fish weren’t striving, they were gliding. What a message to carry home with me and out into the busy life of service to God and others.
What a precious Savior, who would take the time to share with me personally, when I came away in answer to His gentle call, and only possible because Chuck and Becka had a dream and a vision from God and followed the dream to make this place a reality.