Grassroots are the Best Roots

Last week I had the chance to sit with a lovely group of women and hear the stories about how they came to be involved with a Journey Group.

We gathered around a table, squeezing in close to make room for everyone. We ate pizza and salad and I listened as they started with the first woman to attend an Open Hearts training telling the story of how she returned from her time at Maranatha to start a group in her church. One by one the story unfolded.

I smiled as I listened to how she asked a friend to lead a group with her, her friend hadn’t been to an OHM training, but she agreed to help her lead the first group. Slowly they added more ladies to their circle, some attending an OHM training seminar and some not. The cost and time away from work made it feel challenging for many of these ladies to receive training. But that didn’t stop them from continuing to have groups. In the past ten years they’ve started groups at three different churches!

Over the years they came to feel that they might be “breaking the rules”, having people lead groups whom we hadn’t officially trained. They weren’t sure how to stay connected to OHM, knowing that they had grown their small groups in a way that didn’t fit the model they’d heard presented.

My time in Texas as a ministry leader trying to grow groups and develop leaders gave me an understanding of their reality. I “broke the rules” too, having people who hadn’t yet been to Michigan for training lead groups. We couldn’t afford to send them and we had so many people wanting to be in groups that I risked pairing up men and women who had been through group several times with trained, experienced leaders to lead our groups.

It was my joy to bless these ladies and the work they are doing and to let them know they aren’t “breaking the rules” and they are very welcome and wanted in our community of leaders.

They were thrilled to know they can come to a Leader Training Weekend, even though they haven’t been to The Journey yet. They were excited to learn they can purchase leader guides for those leading groups who haven’t been “officially trained” yet.   I told them I would be sure to have their names added to our Regional Network of leaders so they can be “in the know” of what’s going on in the OHM community.

Grass roots leaders are the foundation OHM is built on. As I sat at this table with these ladies I found myself imaging a similar group of ladies nearly 30 years ago sitting in a circle talking about their notes from the Dan Allender seminar they’d attended. They started without any training and slowly developed the methods and materials we use today.

This week the new 9 week curriculum is available for sale on the OHM website. We believe it is the next step in continuing to grow the ministry that started with that circle of women years ago. If you are reading this then I suspect you are a grassroots leader for us, or you have the potential to become one.   We are grateful to have you in our circle.

Tracy Johnson, Interim Executive Director


  • Valerie Avery
    May 15, 2015 (4:01 pm)

    I am also one of those grass roots leaders who came home from the 2000 journey and started groups by myself. It would be several years before I could afford to have my leader attend a training. Twelve years later I moved to Georgia and did it all again. What a sweet moment to be a part of the 2015 Atlanta Journey and see the fruits of determined grass roots leaders. And to think it’s happening all over the US with the regional happenings and into the uttermost parts of the world because of the passion to offer to others the hope and healing we first found at the Journey.

    • Tracy
      May 19, 2015 (8:58 am)

      We are so grateful for faithfulness Valerie, you have continued to be a grassroots leader wherever God leads you!

  • Pat Keller
    May 15, 2015 (7:25 pm)

    I am one of those women who sat around to process the notes from that first seminar with Dan Allender after the famous “legal pad sign-up”. I have such fond memories of our developing the 12-week process almost 30 years ago. My husband and I still lead groups in our new home area (14 years here) in FL. I/we have had the privilege to lead in many international areas as well as in the U.S. The passion for healing still goes on.

    • Tracy
      May 19, 2015 (9:01 am)

      Pat…your willingness to risk and put your name on that legal pad led to a work that has had such far reaching impact! Who would have thought that choosing to tell your story to a small group of ladies in a room with brown paper covering the windows would one day have you telling your story across the sea. Such goodness!

  • Wendy Merdian
    May 16, 2015 (2:08 am)

    I have had the blessing of leading Journey Groups in Amman, Jordan, for fourteen years – probably over 25 groups. We have REALLY broken ‘the rules’, having to spend extra weeks on shame in the context of a shame/honor culture, and the Relational Style chapter being the ‘fun’ chapter. Only one co-leader was able to go to Maranatha, but we were blessed that a bunch of brave Journey men came here to lead a men’s group. Our latest rule-bender is a Journey group full of delightful, feisty Muslim Palestinian women. Love wins.

    • Tracy
      May 19, 2015 (9:04 am)

      We are so grateful for your rule breaking and creativity Wendy! How sweet to picture you and your group of feisty Muslim Palestinian women gathered together. Our blessings and prayers are with you.

  • Faye Sasser
    May 17, 2015 (1:09 am)

    In 1994 I came to SALTS for the first time to learn how to sit with others in their story. It was the second year the training was offered and the first year that they allowed men to be on site, not as participants but to be helpful. I was only aware of Bill Burdick and John Hamilton and their presence felt reassuring. I came home and began by doing three groups a year, winter, summer and fall because after the first class, I had a waiting list. The second half lessons had not been published at that time but we were given a copy of the lessons and I always did both “books”, When the ALTS training was offered, I returned in hopes of having deeper insight and was definitely not disappointed. Who could possibly go OHM and not be challenged and changed? The training I was most excited about was when I returned for the first co-ed groups. I had turned away many men who wanted to have a safe place to look at their story. I was afraid that I could do more damage than good if I had not sat in group with men in order to examine my own issues with them. I must confess that I have found I enjoy an all male group and am so glad that we now usually only do co-ed. In my 20+ years of being a part of this ministry there have been many blessings for both the participants and me. Job well done OHM. I pray that the new books and the new training schedule will enable more people be able to have safe community to love them in their story.

    • Tracy
      May 19, 2015 (9:07 am)

      Faye, you have grown the grassroots movement with such passion, step by step with patience and perseverance. Loved reading your new found enjoyment for an all men’s group! What a picture of the change and redemption that can come from faithful taking the next step forward as God leads you. So glad you are with us!

  • Sherry owsley
    January 3, 2016 (10:57 pm)

    I am looking for journey groups at little Rock Arkansas if you have any info or knows where I can find one please. Please please let me know


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