Rich and Linda continue their story…
As 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”.
So, once a month in our Colorado home we began to host gatherings on Saturday mornings for people from our church and community. It was for anyone who had a hunger for truth. This led to weekend retreats that run from Friday night, all day Saturday and end Sunday afternoon. We often see great transformation from Friday to Sunday — every retreat works this way. God always speaks, always challenges and brings change. When guests come in Friday night, they come in heavy-hearted and depressed. But when they leave on Sunday, they leave hopeful, joyful and with an excitement for what God is going to do in their life. Everyone who attends a retreat has been spoken to personally from the Lord, even the reluctant ones. It is remarkable. God is faithful and speaks something unique to each and every person.
God is faithful and speaks something unique to each and every person. – Rich
Over the years, the All for Jesus retreat ministry has grown slowly and steadily, and purely by word-of-mouth. We have tried to simply be faithful and trust God with the growth. Years ago God told us, “Get ready, I am going to multiply the impact.” So, we took this word seriously and built a retreat home that would enable us to host many more getaways and times for hearing from God. We spent time pouring into 48 mature leaders who are now also leading retreats across the United States and internationally. God has truly brought the increase, in His way, in His timing.
“All for Jesus” is now a wider umbrella of ministry than just retreats and now includes books and multimedia production, all to guide people in hearing from God directly for their own lives. We are calling the retreat portion of this ministry “Living Waters Retreats”, referencing when Jesus promised his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit in John 7:38 saying “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him”. This is what we see happen in people’s lives at Living Waters Retreats.
At present, there is great interest in Living Waters Retreats. Many individuals who attended in the past are continuing to return and grow. Leaders of churches, organizations and companies have realized the impact that hearing from God has made. National organizations have seen the fruit of lives changed by Living Waters Retreats and want to send their leadership teams. God truly is doing something amazing, and we are taking great care in how we steward it, submitting it to the Lord at every point.
The ministry of Living Waters Retreats has been step by step by step, responding to God one small step at a time. And what does God have to say to us right now, for Living Waters Retreats? “Get ready for the next phase, and be open to what I’m about to do.”
“It’s the most exciting thing to be a part of because you experience people hearing God’s voice, and receiving His answers to the situations in which they are asking for help.” – Linda