The Wilderness Fellowship Ministries Story
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A Word From The Founding Director…
“Jerusalem Hill! You mean in Israel?” No. I mean at The Wilderness. “Why is there a hill named Jerusalem Hill at The Wilderness?” Well, that’s where it all began.
The 93 acre farm, on which The Wilderness Fellowship was envisioned and begun, was “homesteaded” by John Brask. It was to a beautiful ridge, on the sunset facing the shore, of pristine Rice Lake, that John gave the name – Jerusalem Hill.
Although it is not known if John was a Christian nor why he named it so, the name stuck and to this day it is known as Jerusalem Hill.
The Brask Farm, on which Jerusalem Hill rests, was purchased in the 1940’s by Clarence and Myrtle Johnson, the parents of my late wife Lois. The farm was to be used for crop and pasture land. In the late 1950’s, Lois and I were given permission to place a small mobile home on Jerusalem Hill. This we used as a quiet place away from the city. Families and youth groups often joined us for mini retreats. Here we experienced abundant blessings from our Lord Jesus and time of precious fellowship with Him and each other. In my heart was birthed a vision for the possibility of a retreat center ministry on this land.
Even though this vision laid dormant for about 20 years, it did not die. It was in 1969 when two affirmations regarding this vision came to me. The first was a letter from Lois’ parents informing us that they would like to donate the 93 acre “Brask Farm” to be used as a Bible camp/retreat center if we still believed it to be a part of God’s plan. Second was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. While in Seattle, WA during a family retreat Bible study led by Pastor Arnie Jergenson, the name “The Wilderness” was given.
Hosea 2:14 “I will take my children into the wilderness and there I will speak tenderly to them.”
When we came to the words “the wilderness” God spoke to my spirit and said “That’s what I want you to call the place back in Wisconsin.” As we shared this vision with our dear friends Don and Vi Fladland and then drove from our home in Seattle to meet with like-minded friends in Minneapolis, it was affirmed that this vision was indeed ordained by God. Immediately articles of incorporation were drawn up and signed. Application was made for 501c3 non-profit status and granted. The long awaited birth of The Wilderness had happened. Our goal… to bless people with the love of Jesus trusting God to meet all their needs.
In 1990 the Brask Farm, now part of The Wilderness Fellowship property, became known as the “Windy Hill Farm” which was the setting for the book series The Adventures of the Northwoods written by Lois Walfrid Johnson. The property size was increased by the purchase of three adjoining parcels. We now have over 250 acres of property with frontage on two lakes, miles of trails for hiking and skiing, a Fellowship Center, three group cabins, nine prayer cabins, two shower house’s, two staff houses, a large maintenance center and a few outbuildings.
Yes, the foundations have been laid both spiritually and physically and before us lies a future to build that will have eternal impact on people’s lives. To our God alone be all honor and praise!!
Dick Klawitter, Founding Director