Monday, August 19, 2013

Jesus as our Guide - Our recent 17 year old celebrates 90 days cleans!

The young man packed up his tent after spending two days and two nights alone in a tent in the woods. He walked away from his solo site with a brilliant smile on his face, journal in hand complete with a list of goals he wants to accomplish in the near future. Two weeks earlier it seemed impossible to list a goal, or to even want to pursue a life detached from the double life he had been living for several years: the church-going athlete/student and the drug addict bent on seeking a criminal lifestyle.

He knew he needed to change his lifestyle but didn't know how. He had started researching treatment programs to help him move in a positive direction, but no one really knew how crucial a program would be for his physical and mental safety, and the safety of those around him, until a series of increasingly bad choices landed him in a juvenile detention center facing a felony conviction; a conviction that could have him tried as an adult. Mercifully, his judge approved his release to Tree of Life on the condition that upon his release he would be involved in a long-term program that could potentially free him of a conviction on his record with good behavior.

Initially, he was compliant with Tree of Life staff; his addict still fighting for a future of freedom to partake in the double-life that had been created. Staff continued to work with him through education, counseling, and assignments that would help him to get honest with himself and others and help him to realize what his future would look like if he continued down the path he had been going down.

While with Tree of Life, exercises like taking responsibility for his own tent and gear, helping to prepare meals and clean up, participation in work crew activities, and completing assignments, would help to build a foundation that would teach him responsibility, accountability, and self-worth - skills that he could take with him back home. In addition, through educational groups, he learned more about addiction, support groups, his worth in God's eyes, and being part of a community.

With successful completion of programming during the first week, he was allowed to join with Peak 7, a partner of Tree of Life, to participate in their Junior Guide-In-Training program. The week-long adventure consisted of rock climbing and rafting; but most importantly, Junior Guides were taught how to guide as well as be guided. The theme for the week was "Jesus as our Guide". We were all challenged to share on how that looks in our lives, and to remember that the best guides also have guides that they rely on. In addition, he participated in a climb up Mt. Thielsen during rainy and cold weather, successfully making it all the way to the top, including the last 80 feet of the peak which is a treacherous scramble. He proved to have heart and courage, attributes that would serve him well if he chose the right path.

During his first week, he reminisced about his time locked up. Some of his statements changed from glorifying that time, to hoping that one day he could go back, but go back to serve and help those who did not have the freedom to leave. Since he's gone home to be a part of his community once more, his parents are pleased with his behavior; his father stated that "he is easily at the best point of his life in the past six months". He is plugging into recovery communities, having just collected his 90 day coin to recognize ongoing sobriety. He is successfully involved in the court-appointed program that will offer him additional accountability. And he has been giving back by serving as a camp counselor at his church and connecting with more friends through fellowship there. We hope that one day he goes back to jail - through the front door with a volunteer badge.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Testimonial from a parent:

When my son was 17, I had come to realize that he was lost spiritually, addicted to drugs, and bent on self-destruction.  I began to research Christian wilderness experiences in hopes that God could reach him where I had been unable to.  I first made contact with Jim several months before I actually sent my son down.  Over those months, Jim counseled me, supported me, and encouraged me.  We prayed together and individually that God would provide the funds for my son to go.  I can't imagine how many hours Jim spent on the phone with me, helping me respond to whatever crisis came along in my son's life.  At this point, Jim wasn't even certain that my son would ever come to Tree of Life, because I had yet to secure the funds, but he never stopped reminding me that God would provide.  Jim continued to remind me that God heals, that He restores, and that He loved Clay beyond what I could imagine.  

I ultimately sent my son to Tree of Life that summer.  After being told by the person who transported my son (against his will) to Jim that he was the "worst he had seen in about 2500 transports of at-risk teens", I received a phone call from Jim about three days into the trek.  He and my son were sitting around the campfire reading scripture.  Where no one else seemed to be able to reach my son, Jim had opened his heart within the first hours of the trek.  It was truly incredible.  For the remainder of the trip, Jim and his staff discipled, equipped, and mentored him. Clay chose to have Jim baptize him at the conclusion of the trip.  I was blessed to be able to witness Jim and my son walking out together into the waves on the Oregon coast so that he could be "washed."  

It would not be honest to say that my son's life was perfect from that point on.  He had slips after returning home and seeing old faces. Jim continued to counsel me through those difficult times, and has maintained contact to the present.  Jim shared with me during those times, that my son's heart had been change in ways that made the old behaviors and thinking less acceptable to him, and to wait patiently, doing just enough and no more, until he decided to walk away from the past.  God had revealed to him, through Jim, that there was another, better way.  

Clay just completed his first year of college with a 3.85 GPA.  Praise God!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jim's Testimony

Tree of Life was born in 1996 while Jim Yahne was crossing the Link River bridge in Klamath Falls, OR. He thought that he would like to once again work in the woods, cutting another load of firewood and was praying to God about this desire. Having spent many years delivering firewood for homes, Jim enjoys his credentials as ‘an old woodcutter saved by grace.’ Upon the bridge, Jim was impressed with a vision from the Lord calling him to stop dropping off dead wood that goes up in smoke. He was called to begin delivering the eternal ‘fuel’ from the Tree of Life.

"My story begins at a boy’s ranch in Oregon when I was 15 years old; I was selected out of 200+ youth to be one of 16 to go to climb Mt Hood with a Youth for Christ team.  We were outfitted with crampons and ropes and all the gear needed to successfully climb to the top of the highest mountain in Oregon.  What happened with the guidance and experience of our leaders was that we were able to complete this life changing experience safely, “one step at a time”. 

I came to believe that God touched my life through this experience and it was an opportunity to share this with others.  I have since been involved with outdoor ministry and work for 40 years and God continues to teach me and allow me to share his love and wonder in the G reat O ut  D oors. 

Through others reaching out into my life and sharing Gods love I have been able to overcome great obstacles and to give back through education , counseling,  and discipleship what was shared with me.   Not long ago I believe God led me in his word to continue this work in the scripture of,  “ Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy  laden and I will give you rest” Mathew 11:28. As a salmon returns to its source, God has called and invited us to return.  James L. Yahne"

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christian Journal Article

Tree of Life Experiences Renewed Growth
Tree of Life Christian Wilderness Expeditions, based out of Klamath Falls, Oregon, is growing.  The young ministry underwent some serious changes involving staff, areas of operation, and publicity recently. Founded by Jim Yahne in 1996, Tree of Life delivers the eternal hope of Christ to anyone strugging through life.

Tree of Life is a discipleship program that offers conventional therapy mixed with outdoor adventure blanketed by the core teachings of Christianity. The program is directed at adolescents ages 13 - 17, but also welcomes anyone who needs help being lead out of bondage. Likened to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, a typical trek entails a 21-day hike through high desert forest. Participants are exposed to God’s promises and healing powers of reconciliation.  “Thank you for being a part of my life and helping me understand who I can be. I’m going to miss you guys…” says one participant. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest.” Tree of Life hopes to be a pathway there.

There is a fresh generation of young faces working at Tree of Life to bring their God-given talents to the Tree of Life family. Guide Brett Hansen says, “We’re excited to see this thing grow! It seems as if God is setting us up for huge success.” 

One of the challenges Tree of Life faces is gaining land use permits in this modern age of ever-shrinking wilderness. Tree of Life has worked closely with the Forest Service and BLM to line out permit areas in the surrounding Klamath Falls area. With new land use areas Tree of Life is faced with the task of scouting and creating new routes, yet it gives them the opportunity of calling a place their own.

This fall Tree of Life has branched out by updating its public image. It began with a simple Facebook profile. Then came Twitter, a blog, and remodeling the website to gain more attention. There is also a nation-wide radio advertisement offering therapy services.

All of these changes are proof that Tree of Life is continuing to put its roots down and solidify a sturdy base. Guide David Key summarizes by saying, “In this economy it’s important to put faith in something. The Lord certainly delivers and the choice to support this ministry was obvious. We have grown and will continue to grow.”

For further information call Jim Yahne at 541-281-2956 or visit

From the October 2012 Love & Respect edition:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting Ready for Winter

The process of raising awareness and funds for a nonprofit is no simple task. It can take weeks, months, and years to build relationships in the community, let alone throughout the nation. And so it is that the few members of Tree of Life staff find ourselves as we enter into the winter months. One can also think that it may only be those who are in dire straits that would send their child, or be willing, to go on a trek in these chilly and freezing fall and winter nights.

So we press on as a team; feeling the calling of the Lord on our lives to serve in this ministry. Equally, we feel the pinch of the elusive paycheck, the discouragement from the lack of potential clients, and the overwhelming breadth of work to be done for this mission to succeed. There is no way we can do this… not alone at least. And there lies the true test of faith; unable to see the outcome of the current circumstances. The resounding answer: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26) So, we press on, we fight the good fight.
It may be common sense for us who believe in the Power of God that we must trust Him completely in this process. And most of the time, in our day and age, Christ works through His body to accomplish His plan. So, we need your help, and here’s how:
1)      Please partner with us in prayer:
a.       That God provides the means for this organization to continue, grow, and thrive
b.      That the clients that will benefit from our program have a way to come; both by being aware of our program and having the means to afford it
c.       That we continue to build partnerships that will refer potential clients to us
d.      That we form relationships with partners that can fund scholarships for clients

2)      Spread the word about our program! We are here to help anyone that wants to grow closer to the Lord, clear any obstacles that are blocking them from living a God-abundant life, and walk with them through their wilderness to help them be restored to their community.

3)      Donate! We are in need of funds for the following:
a.       A mandatory behavior intervention training - $2,000
b.      Snowshoes for clients and staff  – $800 (can be donated items)
c.       A wall tent for winter trekking - $2,000 (can be a donated item)
d.      Donations to build a scholarship fund for clients
e.      Living expenses for staff who are currently not being paid
For more information on how to support us or make a donation, please visit: Thank you so much for your support, encouragement, and prayers. This would not be possible without all the help from family, friends, and community like you. To God be the glory!