Mountain Haven- A Retrospective Journey
May 2015 Newsletter
Disclaimer**this is one of our longest newsletters and we would encourage you to read it when you have the time to read it and digest it through.It is very informative.
Imagine this… You’re a Christian family plugging along—serving in church, having Sunday dinner with your family every week, working hard building a retirement account fit to keep you and your loved ones comfortable, doing your budget Dave Ramsey style, taking a family vacation one time a year, tithing to the church, and paying your mortgage down. One day, your reality is shaken to the core when your spouse tells you they have had, or are currently involved in, an affair. You ask yourself, how is this possible? Can this marriage be redeemed? What will happen if we get a divorce?
Picture this… You have been in a marriage for years, but have never enjoyed sexual intimacy, and have been withdrawn from your spouse and obligatory in your attitude towards sexual intimacy. Your heart is slowly turning cold, and the heart of your spouse has fallen into angry and bitter resentment toward the lack between you two and is subtly drawn to pornography and a secret online life to fulfill the void. All the while, not knowing the sexual abuse and traumatic memories your holding inside. The physical and emotional gap between you two is everwidening. Your attempts to suppress your rape memory or your incest secret is causing you to be snappy, sullen, depressed, or blissfully ignorant of your spouse’s late night computer activities.
Here’s one more to think about: you are a great Christian couple doing all the “right” things— homeschooling the kids, living off one income— but there is an ever growing distance between the two of you that is filled with church involvement, kids activities, work, bible studies, and distracting fun events… all the while the gap between the two of you is widening—there’s no affair—only complacency, apathy, ritual, the occasional obligatory sexual connection and habitual responsiveness meant to hold true intimacy at bay. Both of you against divorce in principle, but living like you are divorced in practice.
These three stories represent the broad range of couples, individuals, and families we have served in our nine years since establishing Mountain Haven, in our seven years of living in Colorado, and plunging neck deep into the world of fulltime marriage and family counseling ministry. In that time, we have heard hundreds of stories or some variation of the stories mentioned above. The stories are heartrending, heavy, and sometimes traumatic. In 2008, we deserted our previous corporate, successful, businessowner, homeowner, assetbuilding, middle class life to plunge into other peoples world of marital and family heartbreak, discord, and deception. We did it because we understood that the blessings and benefits of our story of divorce, remarriage, and restoration could not be an exclusive experience meant only for us and our three children.
Seven years ago, that plunge brought us to the mountains of Colorado. We had stars in our eyes and love in our heart for the idea of fulltime ministry, but most of all, hope for the many couples and families we would work with. If you’re a new friend or an old friend of Mountain Haven, we want to remind you that we exist to impart hope, to walk in a transformative and authentic way with others as they grapple with the perplexities and pain of the brokenness of their marriages and families. We couldn’t have done it without you faithful partners, friends, and champions that have cheered us on through the years by visiting, encouraging words, financial support, and the thousands of prayers that have been offered as we have faced an extraordinarily unique set of trials since moving out here.
We have always strived to be real with you, our readers. We hope you know that we realize since we incorporated as a nonprofit, we haven’t always done it right. We do believe we have always stewarded Mountain Haven as wholeheartedly, as honestly, and as generously as we knew. The part about not doing it right or as effectively as possible is especially true in knowing how to fundraise and ask for support. We have never gone without a meal, or a roof over our head, but we have personally drastically changed our position financially in the last seven years (we being Kevin and Chris). Since moving out here after the staggering economic crash of 2008, we arrived with about 200,000$ less than what we had thought we would make off the sales of two businesses, our home, and our land. That economic turn was a disheartening and discouraging blow to our well laid plans, but we moved forward in faith as missionaries supported by our church and a renewed sense that it was God’s job now to provide where the lack and loss could not. Faith was a fuel that helped us move forward. The fire we had shortly after, in November 2008, proved to be one of the most mortifying and devastating events we have experienced, and the resulting loss of every physical belonging and treasure we had for the last twenty years stopped us in our tracks. It virtually took our breath away. There were tests, sicknesses, trials, and unexplainable devastations,yet somehow hope prevailed… Because that’s what hope does.
In light of that, we have tried to do ministry without borrowing any money (very little is owed in comparison to the value of Mountain Haven’s facility), we have tried to make our services accessible to ALL people, we have made all the services we offer available on a donate as you can basis to everyone(all the time), and we lived in a 480 square foot cabin for three and a half years with a composting toilet, burned wood for heat, and hauled our own water while building, saving, and fundraising for the Mountain Haven lodge. We have decided to be OK giving up many things most westerners consider needs or essential. Things like taking family vacations, eating out whenever we like, putting our kids in activities, buying new clothes or newer cars, or building a large savings account. We do this without any regret or remorse. We knew coming out here to Colorado that real change was required and necessary to start this ministry. Our heart and experience inform us that without change, there can be no transformation. Without struggle there will be no growth. Without sacrifice there is no reward. Without obedience no maturity. And without brokenness no healing. We can attest to the wonderful stories of provision we have experienced out here despite devastating loss, and many hundreds of visitors have experienced firsthand, and some have provided, the benefits
of those provisions. There have been mind blowing events that have been nothing short of miraculous. Many of our supporters and partners have been a direct part of making those happen.
Mountain Haven is our (Kevin and Chris Meland’s) vision, but it’s also a business, and in this newsletter we want you to see the practical nuts and bolts of how the business part works (and doesn’t work). We have always been good at sharing our hearts and stories and lessons to help you grow in your marriage and family, but maybe not so good at sharing the practical ins andouts of what we do, and how that works financially, and practically for us as the founders and directors of this ministry. Our purpose in sharing this is to give you an opportunity, as our supporter, or recipient of our services, to understand why we do what we do, and why we need you, now more than ever, to be a part of this quest to transform marriages and families. We will be very honest and offer you a monetary and practical insight into the inner workings of Mountain Haven and very detailed about how those corporate inner workings affect us on a personal level. We will break this newsletter into five parts.
1.) What services Mountain Haven offers, and what we charge for them
2.) Mountain Haven’s typical monthly budget (input and output) and how that translates and affects us personally in the financial arena
3.) A summary of how many couples, families and clients we have served in the last seven years
4.) What the future holds for Mountain Haven and the changes we see as necessary
5.) How you can get involved if you would like to partner with us in our quest to transform marriages and families.
1.) We offer the following services (except couples counseling—exclusively offered at the ranch location) at both our locations, our office in Canon City and our Mountain Haven ranch home
● Pre-marriage counseling in an intensive or weekly format utilizing the prepare/enrich pre-marriage tool and our own curriculum that we wrote, called Genesis.
● Mediation services and family conferences for couples that may be in a divorce crises
or families in crisis trying to solve problems in a restorative manner.
● Outdoor adventurous leader weekends for men, helping them grow as spiritual leaders
● Speaking Engagements in areas of marriage enrichment, healing from affairs, how to
be a spiritual leader, or women’s issues
● Radio and TV interviews as requested, including appearances on the 700 club, KTIS and multiple other radio and Christian TV venues
We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry. We offer all of our services on a donation only, or donate as you can basis. We ask people to give what they are able to in accordance with their income and the current rates of counseling; but we also see people from every financial demographic area and we do not turn anyone away for financial reasons. We exist because most people cannot pay current rates for the services and most people don’t pay current rates. (The current going rate for counseling is $100 an hour, and most people can afford $20 and under, while some can pay more than that. An average four day intensive charges $3500-$5000 for lodging food and counseling. Most people can pay between $500-2500).
2.) The last three years Mountain Haven has averaged $85,000 in revenue per year: Our average building expenses for finishing the home has been $30,000+ each year for the last three years. That leaves us with an average yearly revenue of $55,000 for operating expenses.
Our operating expenses for Mountain Haven (without any building costs) is $85,000 a year alone.
That is a monthly operating expense of $7,083
● as of right now Mountain Haven receives $1200 from consistent monthly supporters
● we receive, sporadically, between $15,000-$30,000 throughout the year in one time donations. (this would average $1250-$2500 per month)
Therefore in the last three years (and since we have been out here), Kevin and I have forgone two thirds or more of our salary from Mountain Haven to make up and offset some of the operating expenses that have gone to completing the ranch home. We have also physically been building this ranch home for four years with the help of six different mission trips that have brought teams out to work on Mountain Haven.
Over the last three years our salary for the both of us has averaged $10,000 a year as compared to the $30,000 per year that we are contracted with Mountain Haven to receive. We have always supplemented our income by working other jobs, without sacrificing the service and commitment to the full time job of Mountain Haven.The average amount of counseling hours we work is 22 to 26 per week for Chris and 8-20 hours per week for Kevin. Plus there is between 4 and 6 hours of administrative work per week for each of us, and there is at least 6 hours of hands on maintenance work for Kevin required for the upkeep of a place that operates off the grid, using solar for electricity, a wood boiler for heat, and having to pump water at least once or twice a day from a well into a cistern.
The good news is that the building, the outbuildings, and the landscaping are getting closer to completion. This will hopefully be the year that Mountain Haven will be fully accessible and usable, and a true haven. We believe we are only in need of $25,000 to complete the entire project. Our hope and prayer is that in 2015, the seventh year that we have been out here, that the budget would allow us to receive an actualized joint income of $30,000 from Mountain Haven for our services. If we receive this salary consistently it would allow us to take paid vacation and time off, a privilege we have not enjoyed for the last seven years and free us from the constant pressure of supplementing income from other personal sources.
3.) In looking back through the last seven years, we have over 300 files that have been opened. What this translates to is that either a couple, a family, an individual (either a woman, man, or teenager) has received individualized counseling services. The time frames in counseling vary from 6 sessions to 5 years. We have spoken at 4 “Hope Filled Marriage” conferences, Chris has spoken at 2 women’s breakfasts, we have completed at least 7 marriage groups, each group consisting of 5 to 20 couples. Chris has completed 6 women’s group, each consisting of 3 to 15 women. We have also completed 15 intensive counseling model weekends or weeklong sessions with individuals or couples. These times have consisted of at least 20 to 25 hours of counseling over 3 to 5 day period of time. Lastly, Kevin has led at least 15 men into the back country through his Men’s Adventurous Leader outreach in the last 7 years.
We have also consistently been selling and sharing our ” Hope Filled Marriage” and “Loving Her Eternally” books at conferences, via Amazon, and through our website. We have continued to speak on radio shows as well, the most recent was through LoveSavers radio out of New York on April 29, 2015.
4.) The best thing about the future is that the Mountain Haven building will finally be completed this year with your help. The vision that we received over 10 years ago will be realized and come to completion. There will be a private finished cabin that can sleep six people comfortably, and two private bedrooms with their own bathrooms, with private entrances and access to a full kitchen and dining room. There will also be a completed prayer chapel for couples, families, or individuals to retreat and have private prayer time while enjoying views of the Rocky Mountains.
Starting June 1, we will start exclusively only seeing couples at the Haven ranch. We will do this on Thursdays from 1 to 9. We will also continue to offer our intensive model for couples from out of state, or those desiring an extended overnight stay. Our office will be used for individual counseling for women and teenagers as well as mediation services, groups, and family conferences. We are looking at bringing another psychotherapist to take on a few cases to continue the outreach to women and children so we can primarily focus on couples and families. Chris will be offering three women’s groups starting in September. An advanced codependent recovery group, and a codependent no more group as well as a group to deal with sexual abuse or sexual codependency issues.
We are taking the month of August off to refuel, revision, and rest. We are in need of a restful time of contemplation and family time. However, Kevin will be offering his adventurous leader men’s getaway weekend from August 2023.
5.) There are four ways you can support our quest.
PRAY what an encouragement to know people are praying. It makes a difference
REFER send couples to Mountain Haven in need of an intensive, sponsor a couple or individual in need
GIVE support us with a onetime tax deductible gift or support us by joining our great team of Mountain Haven supporters
ASK text, call or email us to ask how you can help in a more specific way
1.) Give online at www.mountainhavenmarriageministry.com or
2.) Mail a one-time gift or monthly support to Mountain Haven Ministry
1160 Diamond Back Trail
Canon City, Co 81212
Thank you for your support and friendship in the last seven years on this incredible journey.