Homegrown Depot Blog

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!

Posted by Doug Routledge on

On Sunday night, while the ministry night was coming to a close, our last regular school year event, there were people in the corn field, doing their work. The people in those corn fields have no vision of the corn maze that their work is helping to accomplish. In Harrison County, Ohio, the same dynamic will be happening in a few weeks. In Kalkaska County, they won’t be planting corn, but they will be establishing trails and maze sights. 

They can’t see the maze yet, or the hundreds and hundreds of students who will flock to Crossroads Farm sites for the annual event. They cannot see those who will respond to the Gospel either. 


There have been so many, “I didn’t expect to see that,” moments here at the farm, and I know across all of the branches. 


Did you know that if you bounce a Mountain Dew 2 liter bottle, it builds pressure and bounces higher. I am about to make you the coolest grandparents in the world. If you continue to do this, the bottle will, when dropped cap down from a bell tower, blow its lid and launch like a rocket to heights exceeding said tower!


Did you know that a hotdog, fired at someone out of a balloon launcher at 20 feet cannot be caught by a 5 gallon bucket, but will leave a hot dog shaped welt? Even through the catcher’s equiptment. I know a lot about water balloon launchers. Do you know that an egg, if frozen solid will blow through a plywood castle at 200 feet? Did you know that an egg, unfrozen can knock a kid out at 100 yards?


Did you know that if a 120 pound girl, makes contact with a giant earth ball on one side, at the exact same time as a 245 pound linebacker hits it from the other side, she can travel up to 15 feet airborne!


Do you know how hard it is to create a flaming arrow that will stay lit during flight?


Did you know that Tide detergent glows in the dark? Or that middle schoolers will do anything for points, or if you put a high school guitarist on a stage, but turn him off in the mix, he will still think he’s awesome?


Everyone who has worked at Crossroads Farm does.


Who’da thunk it. 25 years ago, Crossroads Farm launched on a wing and a prayer. A lot of people waved goodbye from Trinity Church in Lansing, pretty sure this was the fatal end. Don’t misunderstand, they hoped the best. Quite a few contributed. Most prayed. They just had never seen it before. It’s tough to buy in to wishful thinking. How can you make sure you are witnessing something God is doing as opposed to something a pipe-dreamer has launched. 


For those of you who watched 25 years ago, congratulations! This is a celebration of something God did through you against all probability! The problem with a 25th celebration is that, in many ways, it’s not very long. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg. In other ways it is too long. We forget or assume on some of the amazing things that are a part of our story. For the purpose of this blog, I can summarize our 25 years of CRF with one statement.


The phrase is, “Well, I didn’t expect to see that!” 


I remember in our first building, a new student walked through the doors of the old church and stared at the lights, decor and students and said… “This is not what I was expecting!”


A few years later and on virtually every first-time visit to the Shed, we heard, “This is more than I was expecting.”


Bands that have played at the Murder Mystery, walk into the barn, are swarmed and crowded by hundreds of teenagers, have all said, “This is not what I was expecting!” 


In fact, while at the National Youth Workers Conference a few years back, we were connecting with a talent agent for a number of bands. He asked us to describe our event. I got about three seconds into describing our Murder Mystery, and one of his bands jumped forward. They said, “I saw this on KJ52’s feed (a popular Hip Hop artist)!” It is awesome! We want to play it!” And then they, like everyone younger than me, proceeded to show a reel to each other about our event. 


We are not what you expect. 


I wonder if Christianity shared the kind of God who is not what we saw coming, if it would have the same PR problem it does currently. I think not.


How often has God exceeded your expectations?!


Our theme for the 25th anniversary celebration is, “Things unseen.” It is a forward look to the things that we believe God has called us to do. If you were there at the beginning you might say, "Oh, no! Here we go again.” But that’s not a scary thing. It is the way we have lived this call for the past 25 years. 


I have fond memories of one of our first students at CRF. I remember him jumping out of a car which had careened into our driveway, and running up to our house, and through the door, while his best friend shot him with a pellet gun. I remember him duct taping a newly deceased deer head onto his car hood, kinda like Boss Hog’s Bull horns. He taught me the game Possum Punting. I never expected to see any of that.


I recall the day God rescued the vision with a surprise $35,000 check from a man I barely knew. God built the Shed with a large gift from a person I wouldn’t have asked. Our board has been energized by leaders who were far too busy to care about rural American teenagers. I didn’t see any of that coming.


I didn’t see the desperation that God would require of our prayers. I didn’t see the numbers coming, in some cases so much faster, and in some so much slower.


I didn’t see that Dawn would pray for a bar of soap, which God provided through a dear elderly friend. I didn’t see a house fire coming in the third year. I didn’t see the friends who would walk away. 


I didn’t see 9/11 coming. I didn’t see the pandemic coming. I didn’t see the hardship, adjustments, reliance, the plodding, slow, hand of God. If I had, I would have quit before we started. 


I didn’t really see many of our existing staff joining us. I didn’t anticipate that my best efforts were nothing. I didn’t know what God was doing, or why he was taking so long.

The answer is written on my wall. God is more concerned with who you are in Him than what you do for him.


I told our team as we set up for the 25th anniversary celebration, “All of those times I was waiting for God to do something I saw, He was waiting for me to become something so that He could move without crushing us. He is patient, but not slow like most of us understand it. 


I wonder, while some wait to receive the assurance that God is going to do what we see, God continues to say what a dear friend said often to me: “You ain’t seen nothing kid.” But now, my friend, “Dart,” has seen it all!


I think Harold and Ruth Ashton would be pleased with what they’ve seen… not Dawn’s and my vision but God’s. So are Gene and Berna Baker. Paul Bamford, Lou, Larry, and literally hundreds of others who left this earth without seeing what they thought they would.


You see, the last 25 years have been God demonstrating a better plan, a bigger impact and a greater vision for CRF. It has been a test run. 


It has been about the People,

God’s faithfulness,

His unmerited blessing.



1. God has more


9Rather, as it is written:

“No eye has seen,

no ear has heard,

no heart has imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit.  1 Cor. 2

We use these verses to talk about heaven, but they are much larger in scope. It includes our eternity, but it speaks of our life in Christ. 


I was speaking at CRF The Lanes this year, and I talked about our vision problem. I made the statement, “Without Christ, the best you can do, is you.” I have friend who says it this way, “You don’t know what you don’t know. The mortal problem, is that the best I want is only the best I’ve seen. God has more. It’s been said, humans use less than 10% of their brains, misquoted and not generally true, but we do know that high school boys use a tenth of their words, and middle school boys use a tenth of their coordination. I contend that we use a minute portion of faith. 


God reveals the direction we should walk but seldom the arrival time of our travels. My time will come to an end, but God’s desire for rural students remains eternal and infinite. 

As we look at the next 25 years, which will certainly surpass my time here as president, it has been our goal to rough plan our directions. We have begun to think of it as the CRF Line. A stretch of 13 branch sites running from Pennsylvania to Montana through the great upper midwest. We have begun to communicate with leaders, research those areas and chart a course. 

I cannot see the faces of those students. I cannot even see the leaders of each branch, churches or pastors yet. God does. I am confident of this however, If God sees them, then He is waiting, the passage says, “Preparing.”  


2. This Generation waits to see a God BIGGER than they can imagine.


Don’t you? Listen to a memory, Isaiah has.


3When you came down long ago,

you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.

And oh, how the mountains quaked!

4For since the world began,

no ear has heard

and no eye has seen a God like you,

who works for those who wait for him!  Isaiah 64


We need to see God for who He is, and then we began to see things we haven’t imagined. 


Dawn always desires more. More from our time… and her problem is that she wants to squeeze an immortal eternal God into our mortal temporal hours. More from our gardens, our hospitality, our conversations and our ministry. It’s what happens when you see God for who He is and want to see what He will do. Sometimes I wonder why we spent so much money on a reclining lounge chair! CRF has always done more.


The Shed alone has had over 3,600 students as a part of their regular weekly programming. 10,000 have heard the Gospel. We have sent 184,000 texted devotions to students. Our busses cover about 600 miles each Sunday. Next year it will increase by a couple of hundred more. We pray by name for every single person on our mailing list each week. Over 4,500 households! It takes us over two years to pray through our list. Our published training curriculum, The ARMS of a Servant Leader offers our volunteer Coaches 24 hours of classwork annually while they receive an additional 36 hours of training each year! We expect each Coach to give five hours every week to student ministry representing nearly four full work weeks in terms of man-hours. We call every kid. Receive prayers for each student by name for our big trips, and many of you are a part of those prayer teams. We plant corn in April and May in order to create a maze in June and July, in order to have hundreds of students hear the Gospel, families and schools to have the experience in October. We pack hundreds and hundreds of Christmas gifts, deep fry about a thousand Oreos, and serve a full feast to all of our students at Christmas. We labor over announcements and crowd breakers. We pick up kids across 9 counties. Our Winter Retreat is a spectacle. Our Good Friday experiences are immersive, our summer bible studies are involved and our summer trips are unforgettable. All of this is our utmost for His highest!  


I didn’t see how God would impact my children. I didn’t see the number of adult helpers which would come alongside this ministry. I hadn’t anticipated nearly 200 students showing up to the first event. I hadn’t seen students outgrowing our home for prayer breakfasts! I hadn’t seen the numbers of salvations, baptisms, students in ministry, kids of 1st generational students now attending. I didn’t see the number of unfulfilled suicide notes. I cannot have seen the students who have been rescued from lifetime drug addictions, and if the statistics are correct, this ministry area has seen teen pregnancy decline from leading the State, to now being in the bottom third! Not all us, but partly.


Now we wait for God again! I’m asking God for the branch directors of 10 more areas. I’m asking that He’ll send us people from areas who will pray. While I wait, He sees the students and the leaders and the finances and the impact!


3. Our job is to see the impossible

7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7


This is not a self help cue. It is the way the church is to operate! Through His eyes, seeing the unseen people and places. We are asking you to see students you have never met, places you will never visit and years you will not live to! We desire that you see what God sees, and then do what God says. This is God’s work… And by the way, when you do what you expected to do, you shouldn’t anticipate that God will do more than you expected.


4. God’s job is to do it.

Whether it is moving a creek to accommodate a corn field. Praying for land that seems too expensive. Training leaders who sometimes seem more long term than your immediate needs. Calling Influencers and leaders you should have no audience with. Asking for favor we don’t deserve but God wants to grant! What does HE SEE! Doing the next!


I desire to inspire you by virtue of the faithfulness of God. Whether you are a branch director who believes that you have a pretty clear view of what God has in store, or a friend who has been here for all 25 years of our momentary life at CRF… whether your vision is being fulfilled or not, to inspire you to stop seeing the way we all see and to see what God sees. I will act in obedience to pursue all that my Heavenly Father seems to be asking me to do. I will hold loosely to my vision, because I know the world, your world, desperately needs to see something beyond our corporate vision for life, faith and hope. It needs to see heaven come down in the form of a man. It needs to see the miraculous nail scarred hands of Jesus. It is near sighted to not see the glory of the cross as our entire existence. We have chosen to live in the promises as opposed to the realities. We need more. We need all of Him, entering all of us, impacting all of the world, for all of eternity.


We know that God sees things differently. My question is, what if God is waiting for you to let go of what you see in order for you to see what He sees. 


Here’s what I know. You ain’t seen nothing yet. What are you waiting for?


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