This post has been a long time in the making. We are overwhelmed by God’s protection, care and faithfulness in our lives since launching The Nehemiah Project. We pulled on to Serenity Lane on November 30th. A property we had only seen through photos was now in front of us. I drove behind Adam pulling a moving truck with everything we owned tightly fit inside like Tetris blocks. Our sweet daughter co-piloted with Adam in the truck while me and the dogs followed behind, praying for protection. Our boys stayed behind for 3 weeks finishing out their semester, trusting us to find a school that would fit their needs. From the get go, we have had some blind faith, walking into so many unknowns, yet the peace that went before us never left.
The move was nothing short of a whirlwind. The logistics themselves were so fast, yet we had been waiting for years for this. I am sure at face value it appeared foolish to move so quickly and so far away. What many don’t know about us is years ago the dream God placed in our hearts to create a place just like this. He was carefully carving out each puzzle piece over the years. Some of them chiseled out of trials and suffering, and some out of tremendous growth and purpose driven opportunities. They all seemed to fit quite prophetically into this vision God was allowing us to see form before our eyes.
Just a few months before we pulled into Winston-Salem, we were sitting in a Journey to Wholeness Intensive in Green Bay, WI. The program sparked our interest after discovering a podcast called “The Rise After The Fall” by Pastors Sonny and Shawn Hennessey. An email was written out of gratitude for what they were bravely putting out in terms of what restoration truly looks like, and the rise that comes when Jesus rebuilds your life. They spoke about how it effects pastors and leaders specifically, a category that seems quite mysterious to the lay church member. God intersected our stories and our callings in a divine way last fall. They had launched a not for profit ministry called The Exchange Collaborative, helping pastors and leaders through the Journey to Wholeness program as well as mentoring pastors who are in need of support. The needs had grown to the point of praying for a retreat center, where larger groups could come for intensives, as well as rest and retreats. When we arrived in Green Bay, there was an art installation in the airport of hands holding braided and linked threads, named “Connected.” If you have followed our story at all, you know how significant this was to see. We have seen time and time again how God connects our stories and gives us like minded individuals for his greater purposes. (swipe through the photos to see the art I spoke of.)
It didn’t take God long to stir our hearts to use our vocational skills to help get this property up and running. It would require a big move, an extraordinary amount of faith, and sacrifice. The weight of this decision was unlike anything Adam and I have ever experienced in our marriage. (and we’ve navigated some heavy stuff!) The biggest leap being that we would go into missionary status and begin support raising for this calling.
Above are photo’s from our sending and launch night at Freedom Church in Augusta, KS. God’s faithfulness to provide for our move, and launch here in NC was so beautiful. We were surrounded by family, friends, and our local church as we obeyed the call to come renovate the property The Exchange Collaborative purchased for retreats, now named The Reserve. Make sure you take a moment to click the link and read more about the property and the ministry of The Exchange!
Between Adam and I’s skill sets (and some we picked up as we went!) we were able to renovate the entire property with only needing to subcontract a wallpaper installer. We got right to work with demolition, painting, building, and cleaning up the land. Every room had something done to it. Some were complete overhauls, while others were light reno or upgrading fixtures.
We are so beyond thankful for how the Lord sustained us to to get the main house up and running by the first girls retreat at the end of February. We were hanging mirrors as they began to arrive, and I began that very next morning cooking breakfast and lunch for the 18 women that had gathered.
Adam built an incredible 14 foot table the week of the retreat, in hopes of having a table long enough that all could gather around it, lingering in fellowship and communion.
That first day, seeing the women from all over the country gathered around the table, was beyond emotional for both of us. We have built and renovated the last 15 years, and to see God use something we created for this vision and mission was so powerful.
Let’s talk about the kids for a minute….
Moving isn’t easy. Changing schools isn’t easy. Making new friends isn’t either. We were buckled in and ready for the roller coaster that we figured would be inevitable moving 3 teenagers across the country. Once again, God has been so very good to us by caring for them. We found a great school that they are loving. They made the baseball team, and have found great friends who in their words “feel like they’ve been friends for years.”
We are thrilled to also share that Dakota, our oldest, has also signed to play College baseball with a community college here in NC. Another testament to God’s plan for us here.
The kids have also loved being at The Reserve with us whenever they can, the boys have been working in the woods lining the trails, Maggie loves to help me make the beds for the guests and cook for the retreats. We have a little closet full of supplies that guests may need, and she is ready to grab a hair dryer or extra blanket when needed. (I think she feels like she is playing the ultimate game of “hotel”!) We have worked as a family, prayed as family, and cried as family through every single transition and victory. The Lord convicted us that if we were to go do this, we do it together.
We’ve loved having them ask to come to work with us. Each of them have found a passion and skill set come to life throughout the renovations and serving. How could we ever thank God enough for allowing us as parents to watch them grow and serve in such an amazing way?
There are indeed hard days, where we miss the familiarity of Kansas, we deeply miss our family more than anything. This was a sacrifice we knew would weigh the most in our obedience to move. Our parents have had the chance to come out, and see the progress of the work, and hear first hand how the Reserve is impacting other’s lives. My mom, Anita, even came out to serve and cook food for a group of pastors in early March. It was such a joy to serve along side her and share her good cooking with others!
Before every retreat, we not only clean and prepare the main house for the guests, but we also pray through every room of the house. A pastor who stayed awhile back said “You are like recon missionaries, God sends you in to prepare the space for the war that is going to happen!” You may be confused at the thought of war combined with a rest and retreat property, but it is absolutely true. The enemy works overtime the prevent men and women from coming to the Reserve, throwing every delay and discouragement he can at their arrival, but he definitely tries to throw wrenches in all details of preparing as well. We have found the spiritual battle in preparation for and during retreats to be the biggest part of our “job” here. It is such an honor to lighten the load of the weary who come the Reserve, with our physical service, but the greatest honor of all is to pray for them, over them, and with them. We have began praying to send off the folks as they end their retreat. This has become one of our favorite things to do, as a way to celebrate what God has done while they were here, as well as pray for protection as they go back into their worlds to impact for Jesus Christ.
Simple acts of service with big impact.
One day during lunch, Adam was setting picnic tables up, as I was preparing the food. A woman asked if she could help (they typically do, it is really hard for women to be on the receiving side we are noticing.) We responded “No, just relax, and let us take care of you.” Tears began to fall. We asked if she was ok, and her response brought so much conviction. “I can’t believe God would call you here to serve people like me. It seems since my crisis most are running the opposite direction, and here you all are running towards it, and creating a space where I can heal.”
Her words are the reasons we know God has called us to create The Reserve, and why The Exchange Collaborative is advocating for pastors and leaders who feel they don’t have anywhere to go for help.
Our day to day work involves all that it takes to maintain a 20 acre property, 5,000sq ft house, and continue renovation of the meeting spaces and buildings awaiting improvement. While retreats are in session, we cook and clean, encourage and visit with those who are staying. It’s such a joy to see their faces when they come out of sessions to a table set and food ready, a small burden lifted that speaks volumes to those who are in constant pouring out back at home. Laundry to intercession. Mowing to moving luggage. Holding space and loving them in the details, all apart of what God has called us to do here in North Carolina.
We are so thankful for everyone of you who has prayed for us, sent us an encouraging text or prayer when God leads, and the financial support of those partnering with The Nehemiah Project. It takes every bit of both of our time to serve those who come. We value and NEED it. It has sustained us more than you know.
We are sitting currently at 40% of our monthly support needs. Our hearts are that with your support, both Adam and I can continue to work full time as missionaries. We are currently looking at one of us needing to get a part time job to support our family of 5 without adding more monthly support. Let’s be honest, money isn’t fun to ask for, but since working now for months, our focus has shifted from how many people we can impact, vs how many dollars we can raise. Our hearts are that God will continue to build a team of believers who will make that impact with us through their support of our mission.
Recurring monthly giving allows us to continue working in the field full time. We need to raise about $3000 a month to allow both of us to serve full time. If God is leading you to give in any way, we would love to connect with you, or you can set up your partnership with the link below.
Our Mailing Address: The Exchange Collaborative attn: Adam and Abbe Doll 1596 Yelton Ln, Winston-Salem, NC 27212
Feel free to also email us abbe@thenehemiahprojectNC.com
If you would like to give a love offering, or a help with immediate needs:
Thank you so much for following along on our journey, and to God be the Glory!!
Take a look at some of the work we have done so far!