RETrain is a pastoral educational program that one of our Elders, Saxon Williams, has been enrolled in during the past year. As the program comes to an end and RETrain plans for a new school year, Saxon's testimonial of the experience can be found here.

We are also including the contents of his testimonial below.  We are proud of Saxon & Shannon's commitment to the call of God, their faith to trust His leading, their hard work to make it through, and their weekly deposit impact at Elevate Church!


My family’s journey to Re:Train began in North Carolina. My wife, Shannon, and I had been serving in full-time ministry for the last ten years on the East Coast when I heard about this unique training program. In 2010, after much prayer and consideration, my wife and I set out across the country with our four kiddos, vowing to take a year to start a business building custom homes and spend some much needed time together as a family, and then apply for Re:Train. Thinking back, I am still amazed we made such drastic changes not knowing if I would be accepted into the program. We were certain of the call and believed God would work out the details.

By God’s grace, at 34 years old, I received word in June 2011 that I would once again be taking on the title of student. The excitement wore off quickly as I came to two conclusions. First, we had little money. In nine months time, we had adopted a little girl from Ethiopia, resigned from our beloved church in NC, moved cross-country, and started a business—all with a house full of children who needed to eat and have a roof over their heads. We knew there were scholarships for students from Mars Hill churches, but we were attending a church two hours away from the nearest Mars Hill church. At the time, the tuition was $8,000. Even after allowing us to pay in increments, the cost was daunting.

Secondly, it had been many years since I had written a 20-page paper or engaged in hours of robust classroom discussions or read five books in a month. I was a self-employed husband and father of four. Suddenly, I felt very old. For every argument I made for why I should just step back before I made a fool of myself, Shannon would counter with reasons why I should keep moving forward.

Miraculously, work came pouring into my business, and we were able to begin making tuition payments. I nervously made the first two-hour trip to Seattle in August, not sure of what to expect. I was placed in an amazing church plant cohort where I have been challenged and driven to think and respond in new ways. The lectures were first-class and given by some of the most exceptional and brilliant minds today. The class and cohort discussions were phenomenal. The reading assignments were chosen with great intention. Not one second of the time I have spent with Re:Train has been squandered. Every discussion and every assignment has been beneficial and purposeful. 

As I began sharing all I was learning with my pastor, he was also convinced of the great benefit of the program. Unexpectedly, Elevate Church began sending us random gifts of support to help us pay for tuition. The church was a replant itself, and our pastor had always felt strongly about supporting other church planters. We are so amazed by their gracious generosity.

Overall, this has been a very challenging year. There never seemed to be enough time, money, or energy to continue. Looking back, I am humbled to see how God provided everything I needed for this journey: a wife who supported my efforts with many hours of prayer and unyielding encouragement, work to provide for my family and help pay for school, a fantastic church that came alongside our family in a real and tangible way, gracious hosts in Seattle who offered me housing during my weekends at Re:Train, and a fantastic cohort of brothers who are passionate about Jesus and reaching people with the gospel.

This experience has been priceless. I am incredibly honored to have been a part of Re:Train.