Fifteen years ago Gracie and I moved an hour North of Seattle to Burlington and launched Tierra Nueva del Norte out of our home. Chaplaincy in Skagit County Jail and in area migrant labor camps put us into direct contact with people in crisis: addictions, warrants, homelessness, relationship conflict, immigration troubles, unemployment…. far more needs than we could ever meet on our own. Thankfully has been sending us more and more colleagues.
We now have a cadre of 15 or so co-workers engaged in TN’s ministries and growing English and Spanish/Mixteco worshipping communities and still others in Honduras. Gracie and I continue to share a full-time position as pastors with Tierra Nueva.
We feel increasingly called to raise up ministry workers both here and abroad. Seven years ago an opportunity came up to buy a 35-acre forested refuge on the Skagit River near La Conner (see photos at http://bobekblad.com/newearthrefuge.html . Here we receive God’s empowering love in ways that strengthen us to both write/reflect and go out like never before.
In partnership with Tierra Nueva, where we focus on direct outreach to people on the margins, God has given us a vision to establish a refuge to bring encouragement, healing, and equipping so leaders can be raised up and sent out refreshed to minister to the “least.”
Already we are offering lodging, hospitality, training and spiritual support to our staff, seminary students and many others engaged in ministry to society’s least who are often discouraged and at risk of burnout.
We established New Earth Refuge as a Washington State Non-profit Corporation and now have Federal 501c3 recognition allowing us to receipt tax-deductible donations. The buildings all belong to New Earth Refuge. With help from many generous friends we have completed a retreat center that can house 25 guests. We are committed to:
1) Refreshing, encouraging and launching ministry workers and church leaders: through spiritual retreats and personal ministry appointments for vocational, healing and deliverance prayer.
2) Equipping future leaders: for transformational ministry to people on the margins of society nationally and internationally. Plans are underway for regular Schools of Transformational Ministry.
3) Gathering leaders: for prayer and conversations about theology and ministry strategy.
We have completed construction and have been in full operation since June 2009. Due to growing exposure to the global body of Christ through Bob’s writing and teaching we’ve seen an increase in people coming our way for courses and conversations, like the following:
• “Our Religious Impulse: Encountering Religious Otherness,” Mars Hill Graduate School, June, 09.
• “Set the Captives Free”—a course on finding freedom from spiritual oppression that drew over 50 participants & included swimming in the river, July 26-30, 09.
• “Breaking the Chains: Biblical Perspectives on Resisting Personal and Structural Evil,” Regent Weekend School, (Oct 2-3; 23-24; Nov 20-21, 09).
• “Reading the Bible with the Damned,” (Jan 15-16, Mar 9-10, Apr 9-10, 2010)
• Weekly Tuesday Tierra Nueva council meetings, staff prayer & training.
• Monthly area pastors prayer gathering.
• Weekend retreats for area churches.
• Gathering of 20 regional leaders to pray and envision together (Sept., 09).
• Healing prayer appointments with many people from the USA, Canada, and with missionaries serving in Africa, Latin America, the UK, Korea, Cambodia & Singapore.
We are already receiving donations from guests that cover utilities, taxes and upkeep for New Earth Refuge. Our biggest need is for a final $148,000 to pay off a line of credit used to complete construction.
We share this vision with you to both to let you know about this new dimension of our work and to request your prayers. If you feel led to help us meet our final financial challenge gift are tax-deductible. You can donate online through PayPal by clicking on the donate button under New Earth Refuge on our website at http://bobekblad.com/donate.html or through regular mail at:
New Earth Refuge
19438 Best Road
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Please come by for a visit if you are in the area!
May Jesus bless you with peace and joy this Christmas!
Yours in Christ,
Bob and Gracie Ekblad