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Entry #53 – Vineyard College of Mission @ Timber Butte

   Posted by: trobinson    in Education

Students built 300 feet of fence in two hours
Students built 300 feet of fence in two hours

 A sustainable life is purpose driven

The decisions a person makes about the direction of their life in their late teen years and early twenties will set them on a trajectory that determines the course of their entire life. During these young adult years I believe every person should set aside time to ask the real questions.  Questions like: Who am I? What am I made for?  Is there really a God who knows and cares about me? And if he gave me the gift of life, what is his purpose for it?  If these serious questions aren’t asked and answered it is easy to make wrong choices and either waste precious time discovering meaning by trial and error or possibly missing it all together.  Without direction and the conviction that God has put you on the earth for a purpose many fall into a status quo life that ends in social conformity and missing the uniqueness of God’s divine plan. 

scan00011This past week eight VCOM students (Vineyard College of Mission) accompanied by their leaders came up and spent two days with Nancy and I here at Timber Butte.  The directors of the school, Michael and Terra Montford, asked Nancy and I to share how we had discovered the path we have taken and how God had directed us on it.  Using Romans 12 as a Biblical reference we shared our life story and exhorted them to investigate what the scripture means when it says; “Don’t copy the behavior of and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is”. [Romans 12:2]  As the students sat in the comfort of my study Nancy and I shared how we had pursued God throughout our married life and how we had heard him through the use of spiritual disciplines such as solitude, prayer, Bible study and living a life in the context of purposeful community.  We’ve always considered it a real privilege when we get the opportunity to invest in young people who are so deliberate and serious about their lives. 

As a part of their time with us the students took long walk; some even climbed to the top of Timber Butte to spend purposeful quiet time alone.  In addition to that they built 300 feet of fence that would have taken me two days to do alone.  With the help they provided the job was completed in just two hours.  Like the Amish so famously say, “Many hands make for light work”.

 classroomVCOM has several unique courses of study.  The students that visited us this week are part of SOBA (School of Biblical Action.)  SOBA is an intense fulltime six-month track that takes place both in the classroom and doing outreach events.  In addition to SOBA, the VCOM leadership has been developing a number of other educational opportunities for anyone of any age who desires to pursue a life of ministry. Children in Crises is a program that orientates and equips people to work among suffering children worldwide.  It especially focuses on human trafficking and the present day global slave trade. Missions Medics is another course that prepares people to bring medical aid to the developing world.  These programs are presently in session while the VCOM leadership is in the process of developing two other courses of study:  Worldview Video School will equip those who desire to document and communicate worldwide crises and need through the medium of film; and the School of Environmental and Social Impact will focus on agriculture, water development, reforestation and other environmental issues that are becoming major contributors to extreme poverty.  All of these schools come under the umbrella of VCOM and can be explored further through the website [] or by calling our office @ 208-377-1477.

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Dunkan said he loves bucking hay

Duncan said he loves bucking hay

CLeaning up Dunkan

CLeaning up Duncan

  As Nancy and I moved ahead on our vision to develop a sustainable farmstead an amazing thing began to occur that we weren’t expecting. It seemed to us like the Lord was bringing a unique new group of people into our lives that shared a like heartedness for this type of lifestyle. One example of this occurred one day when I received an email at my church office from a guy named Duncan.  I had no idea who he was, but his short communication captured me.  It seemed like whoever was writing me had known me for a long time. He said that he knew of a place where I could find and cut cured firewood some thirty minutes from where I lived.  The letter revealed a number of things; he knew about where I lived, he knew that cured firewood would interest me, and he knew that I liked to get my own firewood.  In the busyness of life I soon forgot the email and dismissed it from my curiosity.  Six months later I received another note saying he knew where I could get some good square granite building rock and that he had a great trailer and winch if I needed help getting it.  His timing in writing me that note was amazing in the fact that I was planning to build a granite retaining wall around my barn and root cellar. (see entry #12)   He left his phone number so I decided to give him a call.  On the other end of the line came a voice that was full of life.  I knew immediately that this was a person I wanted to know.  Duncan was interesting and fun.   He and his wife Irene had been hay farmers for years until they decided to enter public education.  I had been a secondary school teacher for twelve years before entering the ministry and realized that we had a lot in common.   They had been attending the Vineyard, (the church where I pastor) for a couple of years, but because the church is large I had never had a chance to meet them.  In the course of our first phone conversation Duncan said that he missed bucking hay after leaving farming so many years before.  Nancy and I had about six tons of hay in the field right then that needed picking up and so I welcomed his enthusiasm and eagerness to lend a hand.  I remember the morning Duncan arrived for the first time.  I had no idea what to expect, but the minute I saw him I knew he would be a long time friend.  I love people who can make me laugh and Duncan had the gift.  That was a day of productivity and joy.

 If you’re at all familiar with the Bible you may know the story of the first church in the book of Acts.  One thing that was characteristic of those first Christian believers was that they really enjoyed each other.  In Acts 4 it says that they were “one in heart and mind” and they looked out for each others interests.  They shared things and helped each other with great joy.  It’s a picture or real community that happened because people shared the common denominator of a relationship with God. That was surly true of the relationship that quickly developed between us and Duncan and Irene.  Not only did we all share a common joy for country living, but we shared a value for the creator that made it possible.

Duncan still writes Nancy and I letters.  He gives us council on when and how to plant alfalfa, what to do about noxious weeds, and even exhorts us to not work ourselves to death taking a day off now and again.  Once he wrote, “I still haven’t figured out when you have a weekly day of rest! Definitely not on Saturday, Sunday or Monday.  You are wired with a different battery than I am.”

Duncan and Irene have become true friends that care about our vitality and understand our makeup.  They (like so many others) share with Nancy and I “one heart and one mind” in the things that really matter to us. 

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