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!