Taking a Risk for Renewal

Date Posted: 
Monday, September 21, 2015

The labyrinth at the Oasis Renewal Center offers a place of spiritual reflection and retreat through prayer, spiritual direction, and meditative walks.

One couple follows God’s lead to create a spiritual retreat center

They’ve given up high-speed internet, pizza deliveries, traffic, malls, and trash removal service. But Susan and David Hetrick have learned that following God’s call doesn’t always come with modern amenities.

“We were kind of amazed at exactly how much God asked us to give up, but then we just tried to be obedient without whining,” says Susan of establishing a retreat ministry for those seeking spiritual renewal.

The Oasis Renewal Center was something the Hetricks initially considered for their retirement. Recognizing the value of spiritual renewal, the couple wanted to create a ministry space for reflection and prayer.

“In our culture, the spiritual can get drowned out by the noise and busyness of life,” says Susan. “It is important that we get someplace quiet and slow down enough to really listen to what God has to say…That is why spiritual care and renewal—learning about spiritual practices, learning different ways to pray, going on a retreat, finding someone to talk with about what God is up to in your life—is so important.”

But the Hetricks were prompted to listen to God’s call in their own lives much earlier than either of them expected. Shortly after Susan received her Certificate of Fitness for Ministry—on her way toward becoming a pastor—David lost the job he’d held for 13 years. They heard God saying it was time to launch Oasis.

To begin this ministry, the Hetricks left behind their life in Phoenix, Arizona—including their adult children, David’s parents, their friends, their home of 10 years, and many of their belongings. In turn, God opened doors to make the retreat center possible: an affordable piece of property 150 miles away in Sonoita, Arizona, volunteers with construction experience showing up out of the blue, a company following up on a crucial water well project even without a contract.

“I will freely admit that this was not what I had in mind when we got married—I was quite clear that I did not want to be a ‘pastor’s wife’ but I would support her in any way I could,” says David of Susan, who is now ordained in the RCA as a specialized minister. “But our ministry at the Oasis is a partnership. One of the most difficult parts of this journey has been learning to surrender control, to accept that God will provide what we need, when we need it—not in the way we think, [but] in the way that fits his plan.”

In its two years, the Oasis Renewal Center has served pastors, missionaries, doctors, accountants, and teenagers. Susan offers spiritual coaching and leads holy yoga, while David runs the business side and offers his gifts as a chef. They say their faith has been stretched and their relationship deepened through this journey.

“The people we have touched and the lives we have seen changed convict us that we are doing what [God] has called us to do,” wrote David in the Oasis year-end newsletter. “We feel tremendously blessed to be able to serve God and care for those he brings to us.”

Practice meditative Scripture reading at home. Learn how at www.rca.org/lectio-divina.

Give thanks to God for spaces of spiritual care and renewal.

Deepen your prayer life. Check out www.rca.org/praying for ideas.

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