Tom and Donna Cole spent the last twenty-five years ministering to the broken and emotionally wounded through effective inner healing prayer and Biblical truth. They co-authored the book Pure Heart – Restoration of the Heart through the Beatitudes and traveled around the world leading Pure Heart inner healing seminars. In fact, we first met them in one of those seminars in 2010 at our home church in Fairbanks, Alaska. Serving with International House of Prayer and Youth With a Mission, they have poured out their lives for others while raising four amazing children. Tom and Donna are fun, compassionate, hard working, genuine, sold out for Jesus and incredibly inclusive- we feel so blessed to be living life with them.
During the Fairbanks seminar we had the opportunity to have the Coles over for dinner. Tom and Donna shared their vision of establishing a restoration center for pastors, worship leaders, missionaries and business leaders within the environment of a sustainable farm. The dream was contagious and soon Tom and I were excitedly creating a crazy list of all the things we would make and grow on our farm: cheese, soap, grapes, wine, bread, a huge garden, bacon, an orchard and preserves. Sheep, milk goats, chickens, geese, cows and pigs were thrown into the mixture as we brainstormed all the different animals we would want to raise. Our animated conversation was apparently entertaining to the rest of the group and I was surprised at my enthusiasm. I honestly hadn’t given much thought to the farm life- I was still holding onto my childhood dream of doing medical work in Africa. How surreal to look back on this memory and realize that God was at work, and probably chuckling to HimselfJ
At the time, Scott and I were still living the average American life, juggling careers and ministry while raising our five children. But my dream of working in African made me restless for more. Twice we had tried to fulfill that dream and twice, God had closed the door. We were accepted into the Peace Corp a few months before marrying in 1992, but when it fell through and we ended up “temporarily working” in my arctic hometown until we could get overseas- Scott as an engineer for the Department of Transportation and me at the hospital as an RN. Then in 1998, Scott and I along with our two toddler sons did a YWAM Crossroad DTS in hope of fulfilling the dream but again, God closed the door. Temporary turned into a twenty-year wait.
So, four years ago we sensed God’s invitation to “step out “, we willingly walked away from the security of home, friends and our careers in order to serve as full time missionaries at YWAM’s busy training base in Kona. I dreamed of working in the medical department, leading and training teams headed to developing nations in primary health care. To my dismay, the medical department had no need for me, but the newly emerging farm was desperate for staff (actually- there was no one at the time) so I ended up slopping pigs and managing a struggling natural farm (read this story for more).
Guess who was also there- Tom and Donna Cole! At the time, we had no idea God was weaving key threads of our future together. Soon after staffing a DTS (Discipleship Training School) with the Coles both of our families left Kona- the Coles to South Carolina to look for farmland for the restoration center, the Leigh family headed out to serve at YWAM bases in Africa and Europe before returning to the States to find new a home base in the lower 48.
As we wandered the country in our ancient motorhome, our primary consideration for a new home was finding a place with a strong sense of community. We considered various options before coming to SC to visit the Coles. As soon as we drove up and set our feet on the ground, we knew this was the place and these were our people. Another faith story and several months later we found the land- now here we are!