What is Narrow Gate? That is a loaded question from the start and is not a ten second answer. Trust me, we have been trying to explain Narrow Gate to our community for years and there are about as many explanations as there are graduates! But I think the difficulty in explaining Narrow Gate is a lot like trying to explain the Bible, God, or Jesus. It’s complicated, deep, and complex. And as Narrow Gates desire is to mirror the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as closely as we can, then trying to explain it should be complicated as well. I feel it is best to start with a simple answer and then build upon that. Narrow Gate’s mission is to provide an environment where men discover identity and purpose. Everyone who comes to Narrow Gate seeks the answer to two questions: Who am I? and What am I doing here? Knowing who you are in Christ, how God built you, and what He has called you to do provides the starting point to every other aspect of your life. If you do not know who you are, then there is no way that you will behave in proper ways, function as a servant, understand the ways of the world, or comprehend anything in life. You are what you think you are. So, we must first tackle the question of your identity. Once that is understood we then move to addressing the second question of purpose in your life. God built you in a specific way giving you precise talents, gifts, and abilities, as well as specific limitations, flaws, and challenges. He created you in a specific way for a specific purpose in the exact time in which you are living. He built you and then broke the mold of your design so that no other in all of history will be like you or have the same purpose. That is pretty amazing to think about! Therefore, we have to wrestle with finding our purpose in life and find out what God wants us to do with the life that we have been given in order to live a life that truly matters.
With those two questions in tow, how we come to answer those questions plays out in a variety of ways. Our lodge students go through an eight-month discipleship program slowly building up their identity and purpose through engaging with the Bible, living in community with others who are seeking identity and purpose, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with other people who are at different stages of the same journey of life. Our Narrow Gate Exchange students come for a three-month training experience where they develop specific skills so that they can build sustainable Kingdom businesses in their communities to bring the Gospel through engaging poverty and economy in their world. Our Narrow Gate Trading Company employees manufacture products and run a business for the purpose of delivering the Gospel through employee and customer relationships. Whether you are mending a fence, sitting in a Bible study, building a guitar, cutting the grass, running a sawmill, re-building a car engine, making a sales call, building a box beam, or having an in-depth conversation about life over a meal, everyone at Narrow Gate is pursuing life’s two questions of who am I and why am I here. And in the end, the goal is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ for the purpose of making disciples with those that we encounter. Everything we do goes towards the desire to become a deeper disciple of Jesus and to bring others into discipleship with Him.
So what is Narrow Gate? Hopefully you have a glimpse of its structure. But in reality, Narrow Gate is about people. I can describe its structure and tell you about its different initiatives and curricula. I can explain our philosophy and talk about our mission. But the truth is, Narrow Gate isn’t explained, it is experienced. The Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t understood through a “How to” manual, but instead, is understood through the words of Jesus who said, “Come, follow me.” You come to understand Jesus by daily walking with Him, learning His teachings as you watch His model and then go out and live as Jesus did. Narrow Gate is a lot like that – you can’t truly grasp who we are until you get to know our people. Instead of telling you about our structure, get to know one of our students or graduates. As you get to know them, you will get to know us!
Let me give you an example. John Moucka came to Narrow Gate in 2006. His girlfriend at the time was pregnant and maturity and adulthood was suddenly thrust upon both of them. With a child on the way, John and Courtney knew that they were about to be responsible for raising a child and growing a family and they knew that they wanted to do that in a godly way. John spent eight-months at Narrow Gate establishing his identity in Christ and finding that his purpose in life was to be a husband, a dad, a builder, and a creator. He got engaged while in the program and began to build his family while at Narrow Gate. John married Courtney on Narrow Gate’s property and began to build a life with his wife – a life that mattered. And while John and Courtney would continue to build a family that now has four daughters and a son, John sought out to provide for his family through working as an arborist for several years, and a manager for a medical equipment business. John continued to develop his relationship and identity with Jesus and continued to search for his purpose as a disciple of Jesus. Last month, John accepted a position at Narrow Gate as our Sawmill Manager & Instructor. John is managing all aspects of our milling process including milling slabs and lumber, facilitating our log yard, working with our Trading Company to sell live edge slabs, and will be the lead instructor in training our lodge and exchange students how to properly mill logs into usable lumber. John will train individuals, both local and from around the world, in how to take something that God created and turn it into something beautiful, useful, and profitable. John exemplifies this idea not just in his job, but in his life as he has taken the creation of God, using the gifts and talents that God created in John, and is using those gifts to grow a marriage, his children, the people he interacts with, and a life that is beautiful, useful, and profitable to the Kingdom of God.
Narrow Gate is about people. Our purpose is in People. If you want to truly know what Narrow Gate is, come for a visit, begin a conversation with one of us, and let’s build a relationship that is real. We want to get to know you so that we can live life together, and in the process, live a life that matters.