In 2003 we both began to have deeper experiences of God’s Presence. We had benefited hugely from our long membership in Les Veilleurs, a French spiritual fraternity committed to contemplative spiritual practices. But we were estranged from anything labeled “charismatic” due to negative past experiences. Apparently God wanted to bring us into a broader ecumenism, linking us with the larger body of Christ in some new ways. Gracie and I received prayer at conferences in Seattle and Toronto that led to powerful experiences of the Spirit that have healed, refreshed and empowered us in new ways, drawing us deeper into the heart of God.
In the past three years we have seen many people healed of all kinds of ailments and delivered from spiritual oppression. We have witnessed God heal people of chronic pain, migraine headaches, asthma, TMJ, cancer, arthritis, liver and kidney conditions, abscessed teeth, broken bones and more. I even watched two deaf people receive their hearing! We have seen Jesus free people from depression, insomnia, anger, jealousy and addictions to drugs, alcohol and pornography. While there are many we pray for who have not yet experienced healing, we long more and more to see the Kingdom of God come to bring relief, light and life in dark places. We especially long to see people everywhere recruited, equipped and empowered by the Spirit for a fuller engagement in the ministry of Jesus. And we are now seeing this like never before.
Gracie and I are now transitioning from years of direct ministry with the poor to a more- focused emphasis on raising up ministers and missionaries with a holistic vision for announcing God’s Kingdom. We still continue to do direct ministry with people on the margins and cannot imagine ever stopping. However our desire is to see people trained up who combine care and advocacy for the marginalized and vibrant Bible study with moving in God’s power to minister healing, and deliverance.
Here in our home we regularly pray for people’s healing and empowerment for life and ministry. Every Monday our Tierra Nueva staff and interns meet here for prayer and we receive groups of students from Regent College, individuals from around the U.S. and from other countries.
I think of Chris, who came to us for mentoring straight after graduation from Berkeley at age 23, cynical and disillusioned after years of study and work with inner-city youth in Christian ministries. He moved into the TN building and began attending courses & prayer gatherings at TN and at our home. He accompanied me to Honduras and Toronto and joined me regularly at the jail. Now he is fuller of grace and joy than ever-- pouring out his life accompanying inmates, pastoring young gang members and leading worship. Chris regularly prays for healing and sees God touch people much as we do.
Ryann arrived at TN burnt out and disillusioned too, fresh from four years at Western Washington University. God met her powerfully at TN courses and as we prayed for her. She left her job and life in Bellingham and joined us as administrative assistant and outreach worker. She is now an effective prayer team member in the migrant labor camps, family support center and worshipping communities. Ryann prays for people’s healing and empowerment and sees God touch people in beautiful ways.
This is the exciting adventure that we now write you about. We still feel called to share a full-time position directing and pastoring Tierra Nueva. Now though, we are doing new work in a complimentary direction. Rather than taking on additional employment outside our ministry to meet the needs of our family (with three children, ages 12, 14 and 16), we have decided to make people more aware of our evolving prayer and itinerant ministry and invite people to partner with us. We have set up New Earth Refuge as a separate 501c3 non-profit.
Here on our 35 acres on the Skagit River Gracie and I show hospitality and meet and pray with individuals and groups: for physical and emotional healing, and for discernment of and empowerment into callings. We want to help more people like Chris and Ryann, hungry for rejuvenation and radical ministry, be launched into their callings. Currently our retreat center that sleeps 20 is all framed up, awaiting $150,000 to complete construction. We need this building soon as people are coming to us for retreats, courses and larger prayer gatherings. In addition, we are feeling excited about a growing national and international itinerant calling.
Since the publication of my book Reading the Bible with the Damned in late 2005, I am receiving invitations to teach and minister locally, nationally and around the world in many different denominations. In the last two years I have ministered all over the United States and in Canada, France, Spain, Mozambique, South Africa, Honduras, and Venezuela among Lutherans, Presbyterians, Catholics, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Eglise Reformée de France and others. A French translation of Reading the Bible with the Damned (Lire la Bible avec les Damnés) is being published this September. My new book New Earth Manifest(o): Seeing and Entering Jesus’ Kingdom will be published by Westminster John Knox Press in early 2008. Book sales and speaking bring in very limited income, as many groups we serve are themselves struggling financially. Mostly, writing and speaking lead to more opportunities to pray for spiritual renewal and empowerment to people who are in the trenches of challenging ministries around the world.
A fresh move of God’s Spirit is surging up in many unexpected places: in jails & prisons, among bands of friends, in prayer groups, ministries with the marginalized, and in churches of every denomination. We want to serve and spread this movement, where transformational Bible study, advocacy and justice on behalf of the poor, and contemplative spirituality (which Gracie & are still committed to) are coming together with evangelism, healing, deliverance & prophetic ministry. We are committed to promoting cross-pollenization and reconciliation so a whole and healthy body of Christ can face big and complex challenges to advance God’s kingdom.
We invite you to join us in this exciting new venture. Please consider how you might want to partner with us. Our biggest need is to complete construction on New Earth Refuge. It is especially critical that we complete the roof, install windows and doors and side the building before the rains come in the fall. After much prayer and consultation with friends we have decided to step out in faith and resume construction beginning this Monday (Aug 6). We are personally putting everything God has given us into seeing this vision become a reality and are excited to see how God is going to provide. If you are a carpenter, electrician or have other skills or access to discounted items (i.e. cedar siding, kitchen appliances, bunk beds, sheets..) please contact us. We also need financial and prayer partners committed to sustaining us in this new dimension of our calling.
You can learn more about New Earth Refuge at http://bobekblad.com/newearthre
We welcome you to come by and visit and come to Tierra Nueva for a course or worship. You can check out our schedule at www.tierra-nueva.org
Yours in Christ,
Bob and Gracie Ekblad
New Earth Refuge
19438 Best Road
Mt Vernon WA 98273