The road in Autaugaville is long, winding, and filled with hope. It is a road to renewal, healing, and mending of broken hearts. It is quiet.
Just off County Road 165, a place was created to move men from the “milk to the meat” of God’s Word… to make them committed disciples of Jesus Christ. Canaan Land Ministries works to produce a strong follower of Jesus Christ – one who can stand on their own and attack the kingdom of darkness. It has, for the past 40 years, offered a one-year intensive Bible Training Center to students while committed to two key principles:
Accept every student free of charge and never accept government funding that would hinder the freedom to share about the life-changing, addiction-freeing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Through the course at the Bible Training Center, students learn the knowledge and relational skills necessary to rebuild broken lives and pursue the life God designed for them.
“When we started, we realized there was no age limit to a broken heart,” said Caleb Gober, who helps oversee the ministry with his mother, Sandra Gober. “It’s not just drugs and alcohol that can ruin someone’s life. A lot of people experience emotional breakdowns in life, maybe due to a divorce, not seeing their children or a job loss. There’s a lot of depression.”
The mission of the ministry lives off Luke 4:18 – The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.
About Canaan Land
The ministry is “important to us because, ultimately, it’s important to God,” Gober said. “We believe we’re called to do this. I’ve seen guys come in at the lowest level, strung out by drugs and alcohol. I’ve witnessed the turnaround.
“God is using me. I don’t believe any of us can truly do anything outside of God anointing us. It’s a privilege for Him to move through me.”
Canaan Land Ministries was founded in 1981 by Mac and Sandra Gober (right). They, along with their dedicated staff, have seen God work the miracle of salvation, grace, and changed lives into thousands of families throughout North America and various parts of the globe. The ministry is designed especially for men 18 years of age and older who have struggled with some type of life-controlling issue.
It all began when Mac Gober brought one young man home needing help. Others followed. So have thousands over the past four decades. Mac Gober passed away in May 2014, and since, Sandra and their oldest son Caleb carry the vision of seeing men walk into freedom.
“When men come in, it’s nothing more than a Bible Training Center,” Caleb Gober said. “We don’t do anything but pray, worship, and Bible classes daily. They have church on Wednesday nights and Sundays. So men are constantly getting submerged in the Word of God. Then we teach them to walk out the Word.”
About 35 men can be housed on the property at once, along with several volunteers. While the Bible Training Center is a one-year program, the men come at various times during the year following a phone interview to discuss their intentionality… “to see if they want the help for themselves,” Gober said. “They are asked, ‘Why are you coming here? What’s your reason. Why do you feel you need help?’ We want to ensure a peaceful environment; we want people here who want to be here.”
The ministry is considered a one-step ministry – a one-step program to Jesus.
“We believe that whom the Son sets free is free indeed,” Gober said. “But then it’s a process of renewing the mind. Every person who is saved must renew the mind.”
Structure of the Day
Breakfast begins at 6:15 a.m., with prayer and worship for 50 minutes starting at 7 a.m. Then, there are three 50-minute Bible classes at the top of the hour, beginning at 8 a.m., followed by lunch.
The afternoons are filled with work. The men or their families are not charged for the program, and they’re also not “working” for their stay. “We consider this their home for a year,” Gober said. “There’s not one person who doesn’t care for their home. If you have a home, you cut grass, rake, cook, sweep, and mop. Really, just household chores. Then there’s prayer time with staff and students.”
Calls to families can be made once a week, and free nights include activities such as shooting pool, fishing, and watching sports and approved movies. When the men become eligible for visitation, they can spend time off-property with their family.
Canaan Land Ministries is not a 12-step program. Any man who battles drug or alcohol addiction is encouraged to be clean before arriving at camp. In addition, Canaan Land remains free of charge, largely thanks to donations from Covenant Partners and friends of the ministry, including churches, businesses, and individuals.
Canaan Land has never lacked for having men who can cook. The ministry receives food from the Montgomery Area Food Bank, Sam’s Club, and Walmart. Ladies from Voice of Victory Church (on the CLM property) also provide meals.
Paul teaches in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
“Throughout the course of the program, students have the opportunity to wash years of unrenewed thinking away with the cleansing love of Jesus,” Gober said. With a focus on developing mature men, CLM utilizes Bible study, prayer, counseling, and daily work assignments to “produce a strong follower of Jesus, able to stand on their own and attack the kingdom of darkness.”
The ministry strives not only to hear the Word of God but to be ‘doers’ of the Word.
“We help them along in that,” Gober said. “Where we see them fall, make a mistake, blow up, or have issues or struggles, we’re there to say, ‘This is not who you are.’ The Bible says we are to love our neighbor. We can’t do that with our own strength, but with the strength of the Lord. We show them how to practice what’s written in the Bible.”
If you wish to help Canaan Land Ministries, visit them online at www.canaanland.com. Click on the “About” tab and scroll down to “Our Vision.”
Kym Klass is a contributing writer and Communications Director of the Media Ministry at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery.