If you head 14 hours due west of Tyler, Texas on Hwy 271 to Raton, New Mexico, then head due North to Walsenburg, Colorado and then head West toward the 14,ooo foot Collegiate Mountains, you are almost there. Once you peek over the Cotton Wood Pass at 12,126 feet and look down below at the Taylor Park Reservoir, you are 30 minutes away from sitting on the front porch of CHAA’s Bandera Lodge.
Bandera Lodge sits at an elevation of 9,954 feet above sea level right in the middle of 1500 acres of prime Elk, Moose, Big Horn Ram and Mule Deer habitat. Over 12 years ago, Bobby Brasher, president of CHAA was invited by Tim Kempfe Owner and Executive Director of Adventure Experience Inc. to come to Colorado and bring a group of men to escape, recreate and experience the majesty of God above the tree lines. Tim Kempfe invited Bobby Brasher and these men to put down their cell phones, disconnect from the stress of their jobs and the ever present struggle of being a husband and father and rest, reconnect and allow God to revive their spirits. Within a few moments of their arrival in that beautiful valley up Illinois Creek, they found their eyes and their hearts drawn to the peaks of the mountains surrounding them. Those who had walked many years with the Lord were reminded of his precious promises in Psalm 121.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. They were overwhelmed by the memory of you.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
The very presence of God was inescapable. They imagined God pulling the seams of the earth apart and then slamming the Tectonic plates back together in such a violent force that they would spiral over 13,000 feet into the heavens. The men were shaken by the stark beauty of the untamed wilderness and humbled by the very clear and ever–present face of God in those mountains. Just as Bobby Brasher had once had a vision of winning the hearts of fathers for Jesus Christ, this experience shook his vocabulary for words that would describe his vision for reaching families; families that had been torn apart by divorce and greed, families that had suffered the loss of a parent or a child, families that had simply lost their way in an unforgiving world. And from that first experience on top of Cross Mountain Bobby began to see the AEI Base Camp as a place where families could be rescued and redeemed.
In the mystery of God’s plan, Tim Kempfe, who had experienced the power of God’s healing from cancer in his own life caught a glimpse of Bobby’s vision and presented CHAA with an unheard of opportunity. That opportunity looked like one acre of land leased to CHAA for one dollar for the next 25 years. No one could deny the clarity of the vision God gave Bobby after that conversation. There in his heart he saw a Lodge that could house these broken families. There in that vision were fathers and sons and mothers and daughters fishing in these trout filled streams and hiking these mountain paths together. He could hear the squeals of laughter coming from families speeding down a half mile zip line or belayed to the side of a climbing wall. Throughout the Old Testament it was clear. Every prophet who received a vision from God responded with the same realities. These were evident to all. There was the acknowledged physical inadequacy to do what was asked and the impossibility of doing it apart from God. As always, God was wanting to demonstrate His willingness to do the inconceivable and the unbelievable right before his eyes. Bobby only had to do one thing. . . and that was believe.
And then one by one they were invited and one by one they began to come. They came from Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. They caught the vision as far away as Afghanistan. Builders, electricians and plumbers began to show up with hammers and donated lumber, fixtures and furniture, light bulbs and door knobs. A deep water well was dug to reach a cold water spring and then came a generator, beds, a refrigerator and a propane tank. Along with all of this came the Spanish name Bandera, meaning banner or flag taken from Exodus 17 where Moses declared “The Lord is my banner .” For three long years, working 5 months at a time, these men labored while amazed at God’s provision and God’s power to do what he said he would do if they only believed.
Today, Bandera stands as a tribute to God’s faithfulness. Partnering with GraceWorks Counseling Ministry from Green Acres Baptist in Tyler, CHAA has now opened its doors to fulfill the vision given to Bobby Brasher so many years ago. Today, families, pastors, churches and Christian ministries have the permission to schedule a time to stay at the Bandera Lodge. If you come, you will be asked to do what was asked of Bobby Brasher and every man and woman that drove a nail, and believe that God can and will heal and redeem His people.
Green Acres Baptist Church
Bobby Brasher, 903-312-7390
If you would like more information on this project, contact Bobby Brasher at email@example.com.