What made Colorado ideal for me is the people that I met. I loved the sites. Yes, I did. I always enjoy being in different places around America. There are many wonderful things to see and do, and we did that in Colorado. But the thing I love more than anything else when traveling is talking to the people.
I’m addicted to the story, an individual’s story. When we were at Focus on the Family, I found a worker that I could talk to for an hour, accumulative. That was more memorable than Focus (and Focus was great). While at a tourist shop, I ran into a boy from the UK. It was his first trip to the US. He came with his polo/lacrosse team. He was super-interesting. When we were at the Garden of the Gods, I talked with a Ranger on a horse. At the Air Force Academy, I found a tourist guide and chatted him up for thirty minutes. When we took the Celestial Tea tour, I found a Yankee from New York, who now works for the tea company, and got up in her story. All of these people were uniquely interesting.
The difficulty in finding folks to talk to in Colorado Springs was what made it less appealing to me. Besides being claustrophobic, everybody seemed to be going somewhere and “striking up a conversation” was a challenge. Hillrose Community Church turned the tide. They did not provide sites to see but people to enjoy, and that made all the difference.
Hillrose, as far as I could tell, did not have a paved road in the town. All dirt. Every road was dirt. It would not take a lot to up-fit the community for a circa 1870 western. It was that throwback. If a person goes to Colorado, they will see Denver, Vail, Colorado Springs, and the Rocky Mountain National Park. And they should. There are many beautiful sites and adventures in those venues.
But if you want to have transformative memories, go to Hillrose Community Church. You’ll find people who love God, struggle with life issues, hunger for solutions in God’s Word, and they are appreciative of anyone who’d come and share the practical gospel with them. That is why Hillrose was so much better than the “touristy things” in Colorado.
Though I had stimulating conversations with “tourist people,” which was a notch better than the sites we saw, the folks at Hillrose went beyond “tourist talk.” They hungered and thirsted for righteousness. I taught six times in three days. It was painfully hard with my back revolting many times but the joy of the engagement compensated nicely.
We stayed with Matt and Brandi Huerta. Brandi is a graduate of our mastermind program and is doing an excellent work at their church, under the leadership of her pastor. She has been teaching my material to the ladies of the church for about a year before our visit. That was a huge help. The pastor also had been digging into our content, which made what I did that much better. It was not like me coming in “cold” and then leaving. In fact, after we left, Brandi had several folks contact her for follow-up discipleship care.
In one sense, I had been there months prior, and the residual of our visit will carry on for months afterward. That is the way to do a conference. The “old-time evangelist” blows in, blows up, and blows out. It’s nice at the moment, but the long-term effect is minimal. When you (1) teach a year in advance, (2) bring in the teacher for dedicated intensive training, and (3) plan follow-up discipleship, with more teaching in the future, you have your best shot at changed lives.
I will remember the beauty of God’s creation in Colorado, but the thing that I will carry in my heart are the people of Hillrose Community Church.
Thank you for allowing us to serve you.