Written by Allie Sampson
Photographed by Sydnee Mela & JD Gravitt
As we approach the end of 2015, the Cageless Birds community is astounded by all of the incredible things the Father has done in the last year. 2015 was truly a year of transition for our community, and we learned to embrace growth and change with the Holy Spirit with more joy and excitement than we’d known before.
One of our most substantial changes this year was the shift of our discipleship season. This year we hosted our first fall 18 Inch Journey, and we were so moved by how close the Lord came to do what only He can do. Our staff were blown away by watching each of our 32 students’ hearts being radically transformed against the backdrop of the changing autumn leaves. The vibrant colors of fall paralleled the color that was coming out of each one of our students as they said yes to dying to themselves and making space for more of Jesus in their lives. Moving the 18 Inch Journey to the fall ended up being one of our most joyful transitions. It felt like our entire property took a deep breath; inhaling rest, exhaling gratitude to the Father for this good and timely idea.
Along with moving the 18 Inch Journey school to the autumn, we experienced the longest season we’d ever had without doing discipleship. Our yearly schedule is a rotation of six months of discipleship and then six months of cultivating creativity and growing the Cageless Birds. During the discipleship season, we host the 18 Inch Journey as well as our Phase 2 school, while the creative season consists of focusing on dreaming with the Father and creating and releasing new products the Cageless Birds. The shift of the school meant that our off-season was nine months rather than our usual six. This extended season gave us space to dream into new ideas with the Father, and ultimately led to our first ever 18 Inch Journey Retreat, our first ever housing campaign and the building of our two new cabins! During our first retreat, we had 42 people join us from 11 states and four countries for four days on our land. This was our first retreat for 26-40 year olds and we loved partnering with the Lord to see so many hearts changed. On April 1st, we kicked off our first ever Housing Campaign. This was a huge journey of faith for us as we invited people to partner with us to make the dream of more housing on our land become a reality. This 30 day campaign brought in our first initial $60,000, which fully funded the building of our first cabin. We extended the campaign and with the extension, we raised $134,128 which fully funded two gorgeous cabins. Our donations averaged $185 per person, and the cabins were finished just in time for the 18 Inch Journey in September. On September 14th, we worshipped in the new cabins right before our 16 female students moved in. In these spaces, their hearts were radically changed, and we are still amazed that so many supporters rallied around us to make this change in their hearts happen.
And that’s only the beginning! In addition to the changes in our discipleship season, we cultivated creativity with the Father deeper than we ever have as the Cageless Birds collective. This year our online store has grown exponentially, and we are amazed by the abundance of the Father. Through your support, our online store has become a huge success and has made way for us to continue in our dream of discipling a generation. Our leather makers have worked so hard and have partnered with the Father to ask for ideas and execute their inspiration with excellence. This year we released a whole range of new products to our online store as well as our first release of woodwork goods. On July 27th, we launched Maker Coffee — our small batch coffee roasting business that has been incredibly fruitful! We’ve felt so much of the favor of the Lord throughout this whole process and we are so excited to be shipping coffee all over the world! One week after we launched Maker Coffee, our drummer and Core Staff member, Joel Case, released his second album Found In Love. Our entire community surrounded Joel to host his CD release night on August 7th as we worshipped the Lord and celebrated His goodness! It has been a full and deeply creative year!
Through all of these things, we are most grateful for what we’ve seen the Father do in hearts and families right here on this land. We believe that the greatest thing we can invest in is people, and everything that we set our hands to is fueled by the dream of seeing people encounter the love of God in their lives. Changed hearts are the fruit of what we do, and we count it all joy as we see people growing and maturing in their relationships with Jesus. Our community is overwhelmed with the goodness of God, not only in our ministry, but in our personal lives. This year we celebrated the marriage of Joel and Kateland Case, the engagements of Luke Skaggs and Rosemary Gingerich, Zac Vance and Lindsay Armistead, and the birth of the second baby in our community, Quill Reverie Gravitt! 2015 was full of life and celebration for the Cageless Birds.
We continue to be so deeply grateful to everyone who has sown into the ministry and partnered with us to see a generation awakened to the love of the Father. As a support-based ministry we rely on the faithfulness of the Father and the donations of others to maintain what we do. Thank you for your incredible support and generosity in making 2015 such a fruitful year! It is our desire to continue growing as we approach 2016. We have so many more dreams in our heart for this land, the schools and creative projects, and we cannot do them on our own! We are joyfully confessing our need for help, and if your heart is stirred, here are a few different ways you can get involved! One of the biggest ways you can contribute is by making a donation through the link below or placing an order from our Cageless Birds store. All donations and proceeds from orders sow right back into the ministry! Another great way to support us is through prayer. We would love to have you partner with us by asking the Father for increased provision, favor, inspiration and wisdom. Thank you to everyone who supported us financially and through prayer this year. The Father is doing incredible things and we are so grateful to be a part of it!