Last fall, God gave us a vision for the National Summit at SOTO…”Go Vertical!”  We not only felt like this was a key DNA of The Journey, we felt like the best thing we could do with a group of our leaders and Journey brothers from all over the country was take them to a place where God could speak to them clearly.  All of the men were assigned to an Expedition Team, with a Sherpa (servant leader) and a Medic (prayer warrior), and these men supported each other on their ascent.  The worship, the talks, the programming was all about men emptying themselves and then moving toward an intimate, abiding relationship with Christ.  Well, Praise God that we heard from Him, and He answered our prayers, for it was Mission Accomplished last weekend- He took us Vertical!

Heavy rains and thunderstorms came in the day before the event, which posed many logistical challenges, but none of these distractions could stop what God wanted to do.  Every man was prayed over multiple times by intercessors who received their names, and the event itself had more prayer than we’ve ever had, much of this thanks to our Prayer Team leaders, Eric Pate and Lonny Gustafson.

As the men gathered for the first time on Thursday night for worship and the opening ceremony, there was a spirit of unity and love already present.  One man from Maine said he likened it to a pride of lions all roaring and he was that stray lion who heard their roar and found his way back.  Worship was led by Sam and Nick Parsons, which proved extra special since Sam is battling cancer and was leading out of a place of total dependence upon the Spirit.

Friday morning, Rocky led the men through a time of figuring out what they needed to empty out of their life before going Vertical and then, asked them to walk across the long bridge at SOTO as a symbol of starting their vertical journey.  One participant, Ken Hill, from Tulsa, is suffering from ALS and wheelchair-bound, but in a beautiful moment, the brothers helped him lift he and his wheelchair onto the bridge so he could make the sacred trek.

Friday afternoon, the men got to spend 2 hours with the Father, processing their bridge walk and what’s holding them back.  Then, John Van Lenten, from Bakersfield, masterfully led the men through talk about God’s Word as the absolute necessity to being a God-Seeker and getting the needed nutrition for the journey.  Friday night was Region night where the regions gathered for a special time of bonding with their men, but 70 men who attended from new cities got to spend special time with Rocky, as he imparted valuable Journey DNA principles.  It was so exciting and encouraging to see the growth of the ministry into new cities.

Saturday morning, Nate Sweeney, who leads the Abiding Network of pastors, blew everyone away with his lively, challenging talk on Abiding with Jesus and “tightening your grip by letting go”.   Then, after lunch, we had a Baptism service, where 20 men decided to be baptized, dedicating their lives to the Lord.  That afternoon, men got opportunities to learn more about Virtual Journey Groups, The Journey in your church, Prison ministry and then, we were all treated to a very special moment as Rocky interviewed Pete McKenzie and Sam Parsons about their lives of service for the Lord, despite recent loss and challenges.  Sam also blessed us with a few songs he recently wrote.  The whole auditorium of men rose to their feet to honor these sages in our ministry.

The final night was led by Jay Thompson and Frank Khalil, as they brought us to the Cross, but helped us understand the importance of helping others get there.  The Expedition Teams had carabiners, which they clicked into a rope that led them to the Cross together.  It was a very humble, thoughtful close to a weekend full of revelation, introspection, transformation and power.

THANK YOU to all of you who served as Medics and Sherpas or on the SOTO leadership team.  The fruit of your abiding relationship with Christ shone through.

NOW TO ALL OF MY BROTHERS WHO ATTENDED…. SOTO was but a taste, a glimpse of the deeper walk, the consecrated life.  You were granted a vision of the mountaintop, BUT it is lived out in the ordinary valleys of life.  It is your daily, abiding relationship with Christ which will continue any journey that started at SOTO.  If you don’t know how, get into a Journey group.  If there is no Journey group starting soon, seek out a Mentor who can help you.  Don’t get isolated and out of God’s Word and allow the devil to steal the seeds which were planted.

Pictures and stories will be shared as we receive them, as well as Podcasts of some of the talks.  I would ask those of you who attended to comment below on the weekend, so others can hear about what God did.  We want to hear the stories.  You can post your comments below.

God bless you and look forward to seeing you all on the battlefield!

10 comments on “We Went Vertical!!!!

  • This weekend was a truly spectacular time with our Poppa and our brothers who are thirsty to know Him more and more. Poppa showed up in a real way and showed in practical ways that He is alive, and He is working in our lives and providing for our needs. I for one, had a “taste” of Jesus and I can see, feel, experience that He is truly good! Thank you Lord for doing your work and increasing our faith and our trust in You through what you taught us this weekend. I truly felt it was experiencing a taste of being in the “Inner Chamber” in His intimate presence. Lord, continue to fan our flame for You. Lead us exactly where You want us. Do Your work through us!

  • What a great weekend to be reminded where our strength comes from!
    I can’t thank you all enough for the planning and prayer that went into this. To allow us guys the space and time to seek the Lords heart was amazing.

  • God Came Down! As my Austin brothers and I drove up to SOTO we listened to some messages from the late Leonard Ravenhill which kindled a fresh hunger for God and when we got to SOTO He was there to fill us. The men in my expedition group were amazing and we found ourselves going past the ending time every time we met praying and sharing the Lord. We did not want to leave.

    We saw 2 of the brothers in our expedition group and 1 from Austin get baptized. I made connections with some men there that I believe were God appointed and it was such a blessing. I heard so many stories from other men about how God was moving in their hearts and how He was making connections that it was very clear He was at work in all of us.

    The worship was nothing short of amazing. The messages spoken were all aligned and from the heart of God. It was exactly what God has had on our hearts and what we have been after.

    Thank you to all of the people who came together and made this meeting successful. Thank you to all who prayed. The prayer was the game changer this year. I could tell the Lord met us there in response to prayer and every man was refreshed and left changed. Thank you Bryan for your faithful service and it was great to see you, my brother.

  • So true Keith,” Come Down” He did!
    We were trusting the Lord and praying, weeks before we began the drive up, to cause a deeper revelation of Himself to overshadow us. The Holy Spirit was working a hunger in us for more of the Lord, a desire to be more surrendered and obedient!

    No doubt in my mind that our Father knew what He was planning to release in us all once we arrived at SOTO, HIS VERY PRESENCE! Seeing men from the previous of two years ago, and meeting new brothers was such a blessing.

    The Breakout Sessions, the times of worship and His presence during those times will ever be cherished and never forgotten! And the times of prayer with other men one-on-one and the loving and encouraging one another was just awesome!

    There are not words to truly express all our God and Father accomplished in such a short period of time. What a privilege to be with you all!

    So thankful, so grateful!

    Praise your name Father for your faithfulness!

  • I was reluctant to attend SOTO. My friend Andy said just go and see what God has in store for you. I went with my eyes half opened and left with them wide opened. For three years I have been angry with God due to the loss of my daughter. My joy and blessings had disappeared. God could not bless me because of my attitude towards him. After sharing, praying, singing, laughing and crying with the beautiful men that God surrounded me with, I asked God to forgive me. Instantly my heart was filled with joy. The final step was taking my old backpack filled with that and other junk and throwing it over the bridge. Now I am filling my new backpack with Jesus’s love, grace and understanding. Best weekend of my life!

  • God is Faithful in all things. Leading up to SOTO, I had felt the love of God completely surrounding me, and continued to get stronger the closer I came to the start of SOTO. ON the first night, after being in are small groups, I was able to confess my sins, like a volcanic erruption, to a group of men I never knew. They prayed for me and we broke up for the night, but before I left the prayer warrior(Medic), stayed behind and gave me a word, purity. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it meant. I caught Rocky Fleming by himself and wanted to talk to him, so I went to him a broken man, and shared my story, while weeping, asked him for help. Rocky shared a few words, and then said, one word comes to mind for me, he spoke the word, purity.
    I was more confused. After some more teaching and worship the next day, I cried out to our Father help me, things seemed as though they were becoming a little more clearer, yet not in focus yet.
    Later in the evening I went out to the porch and sat next to a couple brothers, quietly over hearing and praying for the one brother in a certain situation. I felt like I had an opportunity being led by the Holy SPIRIT to share. As I was sharing with them, the Holy Spirit showed me that it was for me, I again was broken before God. We all stood up and started praying, and it seemed like at once the prayers were turned to me. I cried out to him once again, but this time I had a breakthrough like I have never had before, even before Salvation. I had gone 30 years into a deep dark place in my life because of my sin. Not ever being able to communicate with my wife, struggled. Little did I know that he is Faithful in everything. While he was preparing me, he was also preparing my wife at the same time.
    God told me to call my wife, so I did. To my surprise, she received my apology, accepting partial blame, and then said, if I didn’t love you I wouldn’t stayed. That completed the complete process of God healing my marriage, and giving me the tools to protect my marriage and family as well. Thank you Lord for your love, that we can’t comprehend, yet want more of it to flow through me to others. MOG, what a blessing SOTO was, stay connected in Christ.

  • I just can say: SO MUCH LOVE from my Father and from my brothers.
    Thank you Wayne for treating me and my friend Jahider as Jesus would do it.
    And thank you Ron Froehlich for your support to make it be possible.
    Love you all.

  • SOTO, once again, was so, so incredible! As the last time I was there, the group times were unbelievable blessings. We saw God do so much there, I believe largely due to all of the advance prayer that went into them. A part that was personally extra meaningful for me was crossing the bridge. At this event I had the privilege of serving as a Prayer Medic. As we received and cheered on guys who were crossing the bridge, leaving baggage behind, I couldn’t help but remember just a year and a half before, when I had crossed the same bridge as a statement-with much trepidation, due to past failures. And how I had been welcomed and cheered! God is so incredibly good!
    The last night, it seemed we all in our group had the sense, if God blessed us much more, we weren’t sure we would have been able to handle it!

  • I did wake up today thanking God for everything that he has given to me every single day of my life, but, in special for allow me to be in SOTO. For my team, for the prayers, for show me that I don’t have to be isolated, for all new influences that I met, each of them have a story of brokenness, but, each of then also share with me how the Holy Spirit had lead their new life.
    Two memories will be with me forever of this fantastic abiding weekend.
    1.- I did cross that bridge, crying and praying, it was a long heavy slow walk. I did stop 2 times, look back, take a deep breath and turn forward. The second time, I did start walking backwards, looking to my past until a fellow brother came offer his arm and the Holly Spirit started to talk with me as I was praying for him. I left in the other side of the bridge a heavy cargo (sins, pride, lies, fear, etc. by tons) that I have carried for long time. In can’t handle any more, but is nothing for my savior. Leaving the cargo there even took care of some health issues that I had for the past several weeks, it was automatic. No more fear, no more stress is about of absolute trust and total abandonment.
    2.- I got a letter from God, what an amazing experience! a proof of true love, compassion, mercy and grace.

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