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Outpost Stories

As we enter the month of May, our mailboxes fill with graduation announcements, and we wanted to highlight a few of our Outpost seniors! These three girls have all been a part of Outpost since its humble beginnings in the Rec Center hallway, and now they are ready to launch from our midst. Take a moment to read the three vignettes and share in the joy of young hearts determined to seek the Lord as they head on to various post-graduation adventures! 

Isabel Taylor: Finding a Personal Faith

Isabel Taylor grew up on a rural Alaskan island, with a family who loved the Lord. Christianity was an integral part of family life, but Isabel had little personal understanding of who Jesus was. As she entered her teen years and moved to Cody, the Lord began to call her to deeper faith, and into heartfelt relationship with Him. Read her story to see how Jesus drew Isabel to Himself, and is helping her establish habits of discipline and discipleship that will keep her grounded as she begins college. 

 

Isabel: In Alaska, we didn’t have a childrens’ ministry in our little church. I remember sitting with my parents and listening, but not really grasping the Truth. At one point, a friend of mine was choosing to get baptized. I was intrigued and a little incredulous. I asked her about it, and she was so excited about Jesus, but I didn’t understand why I didn’t have that same closeness with Him. I didn’t really get it. 

 

When Isabel was in 7th grade, her family left wild and wet Alaska and transplanted to the Cody desert. Isabel joined a local youth group. She enjoyed the group, but still felt the keen loneliness of being the new kid in an established community. Two years later, Isabel was a new freshman, and Outpost was just beginning to meet regularly. 

 

We joined Outpost. My parents were a part of a community group, and I really noticed a change in them. They were becoming more authentic in how they lived out their faith. I could see that their faith was growing and deepening as they invested in that group. Then we started to meet as teen girls for informal student ministry. I loved the leaders, and I could tell they really cared about us. I don’t remember the specific moment when things changed in my heart. But, at some point, the Lord saved me. I really believed and trusted in Him for the first time. 

 

During Isabel’s sophomore year, she chose to be baptized as an expression of that newfound faith. The belief planted in her heart sprouted into visible spiritual growth. Isabel began to walk with God on her own, reading her Bible, praying, and seeking to live purposefully and faithfully as His follower. But change takes time.

 

Dancing had been a part of Isabel’s life since she was a little girl. In high school, the busy schedule of daily dance classes became consuming - something that occupied time, energy, and identity. 

 

I think dancing became an idol at that point. It has taken time and prayer for me to figure out a balance where I can actually serve and glorify God through my love for dance. I can perform in a way that showcases my God-given love for dancing and highlights the way it has taught me discipline. Dancing doesn’t have to be an idol that takes away from my relationship with God; it can be a means of glorifying God and even of growing my faith. 

 

Another area where Isabel saw slow (but significant!) growth was in forming Christian community. Loneliness and isolation were unwelcome stowaways on a summer-long trip to fish in Alaska before Isabel’s junior year, and she returned home hungry for companionship. Because there were only a few high school girls who were seeking a community group at that time, the formation of a group felt slow. Isabel had a desire for deeper friendships, but the process was painstaking. 

 

We were just three junior girls without a lot of direction, and we definitely were kind of stuck for a while. We didn’t really know how to move forward and all of us had our own struggles that we didn’t yet know how to share with each other. It took a long time and some ups and downs. But, at the beginning of our senior year, we started to make progress. And, now, we are doing well at encouraging each other to love God and live for Him. 

 

The girls have grown in devoting daily - or almost daily! By reading from the same Bible plan, they are able to share and study together, and to hold each other accountable. 

 

I don’t always feel like I “get” something every time I sit down to read the Bible. But I am learning to be faithful in reading God’s Word anyway. One thing I have been practicing is praying for the fruit of the Spirit. I started praying for God to stir up love in my heart, and I kind of got stuck there - just praying for God to help me love others, especially non-believers, well. 

 

That disciplined practice of studying God’s Word will serve Isabel well as she begins life after high school. She plans to study at Northwest for the next two years and then continue elsewhere, pursuing a degree in archaeology or anthropology. 

 

Being a Christian isn’t always accepted in those fields of science. But I think I am ready to face those challenges and be steadfast in my faith, and the encouragement of my community at Outpost has a lot to do with that. 

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

 

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Elisa Wachob: Choosing to Live for Christ Alone

Like Isabel, Elisa grew up in a family who loved Jesus. Her faith was nurtured from the nursery to middle school youth group in a small Baptist church in Jackson, Wyoming. Uprooting from the Tetons to move to Cody brought a season of loneliness and uncertainty that left Elisa questioning who - and Whose - she really was. Read her story to see how the Lord captured her heart and showed her that He alone is worthy of her worship. 

 

Elisa: My family and I went to the same church in Jackson for my whole childhood. I grew up going to AWANA every week, memorizing verses, singing in the angel choir, and playing with the same kids after church. Faith was a big part of our lives. When I was four, I was supposed to be taking a nap one afternoon, and instead I got up and asked Jesus to come into my heart. I was either homeschooled or attended private Christian school during elementary school and middle school. Christian teaching was an everyday thing. In sixth grade, I started to attend youth group. During that time, I began to make my faith my own. We lived an hour away from the church, and my dad would always drive me home. I remember asking questions and processing the lessons I was learning at youth group. 

 

At the end of Elisa’s seventh grade year, the Wachobs moved to Cody. The move rattled the whole family, but was especially hard on the older girls whose lifelong friends had been left behind. Elisa struggled with loneliness. Though the family began attending a local church, it didn’t feel welcoming or warm the way church at “home” had felt. 

 

I didn’t feel like I had a place. In Jackson, my faith was so wrapped up in our church and the people we loved. I really faltered during that first year in Cody. 

 

The onset of COVID isolation only added to Elisa’s loneliness. In the fall of 2020, she started high school, attending a public school for the first time. While the transition was positive in that Elisa formed friendships and began to feel welcome and at home, it also brought exposure to worldly things. 

 

I vacillated between wanting to fit in and also wanting to hold onto my faith. We started attending Outpost. I liked the girls’ group and my leaders. But somewhere along the way, my priorities shifted. I really just wanted to fit in. I wanted to be in the world. During my sophomore year, I became close friends with an exchange student. When she left, I was heartbroken. Instead of turning to God, I pursued other things to fill the void: friendships, popularity, boys, success in running and Nordic skiing. I was lying to my parents, but also trying to keep up a facade of being a good Christian girl. 

 

Eventually, Elisa’s parents confronted her about her dishonesty. Instead of burrowing deeper into herself, she chose to open up about how broken she was. 

 

I chose to move toward Christ and towards my family, and for a while, my faith was on fire. But then, part way through my junior year, I began to date a boy who was not a Christian. As I pushed aside my hesitations about being unequally yoked, and we became more serious, that relationship consumed me. I wasn’t reading my Bible. I wasn’t in a good place spiritually. 

 

Six months later, Elisa began to feel the Lord nudging her to end the relationship. He worked gently on her heart until she knew she had to break up with the boy in order to be faithful to God. The moment she obeyed the Lord’s promptings, He graciously freed her heart. And her relationship with the Lord and with others began to change. 

 

It was like I took that one step of obedience, and I did what I knew God was telling me to do, and that one action helped me to take other actions. It was a firm step that deepened my faith and turned my heart back - fully - to God. I realized I had been pursuing other things to find my identity. God has shown me that my identity is as His child, and that only He is worth worshipping. 

 

The girls’ community group had been meeting for a year, but was relatively unfruitful and inauthentic. They struggled to meet, struggled to connect and struggled to grow. But, around the same time as Elisa was taking decisive action in her faith, Sage was also experiencing spiritual renewal. The three girls began to meet more consistently and to grow together through studying Scripture and sharing their hearts with each other. 

 

Authenticity and devoting daily (well, almost) has changed my life this year. I am so grateful for the girls God has put in my life to encourage me and hold me accountable. 

 

Elisa will be attending George Fox University in Newberg, OR in the fall, pursuing a degree in nursing. She is eager to nurture her faith through four years at a Christian university and then serve the Lord through her career. 

 

Making decisions about the future is a little scary. But I am learning to trust God and to know that He will be with me wherever I go. 

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“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 16:11

Sage Ellsbury: Returning to Heartfelt Faith

As a child Sage grew up going to church with her family but eventually found herself keeping up appearances of a Christian life instead of actively growing her faith and relationship with God. In her brokenness she surrounded herself with a community of people who encouraged her to fall into sinful habits and keep her faith quiet, neglecting her Community group and her time with God. God, however, didn’t leave her alone in her brokenness. Read Sage’s story to find out how God brought her Community, strengthened her faith and how He helped her to share her story with others by encouraging them to follow her into faithful relationship with God.

Sage: In my younger years I grew up going to church where I was actively involved with my family and loved Jesus full-heartedly. I was saved at Camp Bethel when I was ten years old. In middle school I began to neglect my relationship with Jesus and kept up appearances as a Christian without the substance. 

In high school Sage lived a double life of the dutiful Christian girl and the fun party girl. Which mask she wore depended on who she was around at the time. She kept her faith quiet. Sophomore year of high school Sage was devastated by an event that happened to her, spiraling into a place of brokenness. 

I began to pray and read my Bible until life grew hard again and I once again fell into bad habits. 

The vicious cycle continued. She cut herself off from her Community group and her Christian friends to avoid admonishment. One day God brought her sinful habits to a head, bringing her out of darkness and showing Sage her brokenness. 

All of these little sins had just led to bigger sins. All of the people I’d surrounded myself with were just supporting these sins. I took all of the people who would have told me what I was doing was wrong out of my life. I was just left broken. 

Eventually Sage cried out to God and contacted her Community group who came to her with open arms - not condemning her or resenting her but embracing her fully. In returning to church she found the fact that Outpost is so open about how ‘we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ instead of brushing sins under the rug and hiding them a beautiful expression of faith. Sage began to take small steps towards surrounding herself with Christian friends, reading her Bible and developing her prayer life. She started to root out the people and circumstances in her life that had supported her sinful habits. 

The road to authentic faith was rocky. There was backsliding and Sage would still be invited to parties with her friends. 

I began to find these events distasteful and began to wonder why I was even there to begin with as I didn’t want to be there at all. I was uncomfortable and found myself disinterested in any of the sinful habits I used to participate in. God gave me a disgust of the former ways of the world and an increased desire for a relationship with Him. 

Despite her fear of rejection and anger from people in her life she began to decline invitations to parties and other activities she no longer wanted any part of. She would tell others that God didn’t want her there. He wanted more for her life. Not everyone understood where she came from but she found herself learning about how to communicate her faith and deal with others who came from different moral grounds than herself. 

Instead of keeping her faith ‘under a bushel’ Sage shared her faith openly with her friends. She invited them to church and began to share why she would no longer be participating in their party lifestyle. A few of her friends began to come to church at Outpost with her and were baptized. 

Even to the people that might not want to go to church or have faith or might make fun of me because I hid it from them for so long I’ve been able to share the Gospel through my faith journey without being embarrassed or ashamed.

Growing in her faith Sage has found that even when times are hard she no longer weakens in her faith but remains strong because she knows that what God is bringing her to will never be something she cannot handle. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds Sage,  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast.”

My family was very supportive of me once I began to open up about the sinful life I had been living but my mom’s attitude was especially encouraging to me. My mother listened with grace and understanding to my struggles instead of harshly admonishing me from the outset. 

Next year Sage will be attending a Christian college in Arizona with a community that fosters connection through growing in faith. She believes it will be a great opportunity to grow in sharing her faith and connecting with others who are faithful. She will be studying elementary education.

“So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried out by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness of deceitful schemes.”

Ephesians 4:14

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