J.W. Smith


J.W. Smith wasn't sure about joining the Men's Ministry Retreat. But now, he can't imagine his spiritual walk without those experiences behind him.

“I had reservations. Going into the trip, I didn’t know any of the other men who’d signed up. Now, I call them all brothers.”

J.W. Smith joined the Men’s Ministry retreat well aware of the importance of being in fellowship with Christian Men. While he had a few friendships at the church, he knew it was time to dive deeper. “The trip was an opportunity for me to let God put godly friendships in my path,” he said.

The group left for Sipapu, New Mexico in a caravan of cars. Their destination was a remote, mountainous region of the state, with peaks reaching over 12,000 feet high, and the running waters of the Rio Grande River nearby.

J.W. started to “bond” with the men in his car, in his tent, on his climbing expeditions, and on his white water rafting adventures, all the while remembering the word “surrender.”

“At the beginning of the trip, God put that word on my heart,” he said. “I’d been struggling as a husband and a father. Not only was I trying to do things on my own at times, sometimes I was frustrated at God and myself… So I started my journey with a spirit of surrender on my heart.”

“I had reservations. Going into the trip, I didn’t know any of the other men who’d signed up. Now, I call them all brothers.”

Over the next few days, J.W. continued getting to know the men around him, finding quiet moments of spiritual encouragement and insight in the remote New Mexico mountains.

“As we summited the mountain on the second day of hiking, I spoke with God and asked Him if He would accept me. Before I could even finish the question, I had His answer. He was waiting for me all along with His arms open wide. While I lay on my back atop the mountain, I felt a release of pressure and the relief that I was not alone.”

“Later that afternoon, Nate (the Men’s Ministry pastor) asked if I had been baptized.” He hadn’t. So J.W. stepped onto the banks of the Rio Grande, was submerged into the cool waters, and emerged anew. He now calls that one of the “major” moments of his life.

As the group finished their trip and left for home, he said he anticipated Satan’s attacks. “But when I remember the mountain, the river, and my fellow brothers in Christ, I have a new set of weapons and ammunition for the fight.”

Looking back, the thought of moving forward without those experiences is unnerving. “Without other godly men in my life,” J.W. said, “I am more likely to stumble all the way to eternity. My Christian brothers show me that I am not alone… that they have similar struggles… that they are there for me if I need them… that God is real and present.”