An Oasis for the Underground

By Diane Johnston

We were blessed to have Herb join us in Cove, Oregon, for our first Underground Oasis Retreat. It is a very long trip from West Virginia to eastern Oregon, but the Oasis family will always be grateful to Herb for making the exhausting trip and agreeing to be our keynote speaker.

The Underground Oasis is a God-based recovery program that believes that only God has the power to completely heal our destructive habits and dependencies. Our Oasis family will never be the same as a result of this life-changing weekend. We say that “at the Underground Oasis, we don’t care about where you’ve been, we just care about where you’re going.” Herb gave the Oasis Family a new vision of God this weekend. A God who truly cares about where we’re going and freely forgives where we’ve been.

Herb’s message for the Underground Oasis was a message of hope—something that has eluded most of us as a result of our choices earlier in life. We were shown a new picture of God’s character, a God who desperately loves even those who have made poor decisions and left a trail of wreckage in their path. This was brought home in a powerful way when Herb told of the last three hours of Jesus on the cross. The fact that Jesus felt separated from His father, but was still willing to die that second death so that we might experience eternity, was a powerful picture of God’s character of love. Of all the people who can identify with feelings of rejection, betrayal, separation, and hopelessness, the Underground Oasis Family stands out. Many had never heard the true story of the cross, and for the first time it brought hope to those hearts.

The weekend was about healing and forgiveness. Forgiveness is an issue that consumes most of us in the Oasis Family. The track record for most of us has not been stellar. We learned the key to forgiveness was not held by us—that key is held by God. Herb encouraged us to let go and stop begging God to do something He has already done for us. He has already forgiven us in His heart. We need forgiveness to cleanse our hearts and minds of the guilt and remorse we have been packing around for a lifetime. Herb asked us to concentrate only on how much God has forgiven us. When we start to comprehend that truth, the ability to forgive ourselves and others who have hurt us will automatically flow out of a grateful heart. —Dale, aka “The Deacon”

“I never realized how we can tie God’s hands by our choices. That explained so much to me why my 911 prayers never seemed to reach the ceiling. Even though God is all powerful, in His love for us, he still gives us free choice.” —Steve, aka “Mad Max.”

“I am a 3rd-generation Adventist. I have spent my whole life in a backslidden, hopeless condition. I have found recovery through Jesus Christ at the Underground Oasis, a Christ Centered 12 Step recovery family. Herb was invited to speak at our retreat this summer and WOW! I’m convinced that this is God’s last great message to the whole world. Let the rain fall!” —Steve F.

“Thank you so much for the awesome weekend. I learned so much and was relaxed at the same time.” —Ricia

“I’ve been in and out of church all of my life. I’ve been in and out of prison, too. I viewed Christianity as a band-aid for weak people. After this weekend I saw a real Jesus Christ and my view of Christianity and religion is more of a wholesome, one-on-one relationship and friendship with Jesus. The weekend should have lasted longer. Herb redefined my definition of who God is. The marks, scars, tattoos and bruises on my body were the decisions of a teenager who knew everything and who became an adult who knew nothing. I was once a hopeless dope addict—now I’m a dopeless hope addict! I love you, Herb!” —Mike, aka “Biggin”

“I know things now that will keep me from running away from God. I couldn’t get enough, I need more.” —Vicki

“The first night stands out in my mind, where Herb defined who it was we are seeing when we think of God. We have been concentrating on our behavior instead of Jesus. Who I see determines how I think. How I think determines how I feel. How I feel determines my behavior. I believe the eyes are the avenue to the soul. As a result of this weekend, I am more dedicated to beholding Christ and then letting the behavior fall in order.” —Jim, aka “Recovering Pharisee”