Everybody has a story. The longer we live, the more our stories speak of mountains that grow steep and valleys that loom wide. Every so often, we meet a younger person who has experienced a similar life, one far beyond their years. Without question, Nate Weston, at just twenty-two years old, is one of these people.
A native of Boulder, Colorado, Nate grew up a child of divorce. By his own account, Nate was “unchurched” and describes himself during that time as an atheist. He relied on his own analytical intellect and moral judgement to guide his life. After two years of pursuing an engineering degree, Nate hit rock bottom and dropped out of college.
Without a clear feeling of purpose, he moved into his father’s basement to once again, “solve my own problems.” As he researched his next steps, Nate discovered WWOOF-USA, part of a worldwide initiative to bring interested volunteers together with organic farmers. And this is where the Nate’s story takes a turn. He began to climb a mountain, one that eventually led him to Narrow Gate and a new life in Christ.
Nate’s first call was to Andre, a farmer at nearby WWOOF Jacobs Springs Farm. Nate began working on the farm the next day. He quickly found out that Andre welcomed “all sorts of people – Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and others. He shared scriptures and prayed for them all.” It was here that Nate heard the Word and met Micah, a Narrow Gate graduate and intern, and his now-wife Mary Grace. Through Nate’s friendship with this couple, he learned about a place where young men whose lives were forever transformed by Christ.
In May of 2019, Nate arrived at the Narrow Gate Lodge on Dry Prong Road in Williamsport, Tennessee. He says transitioning from life as an atheist to one devoted to Christ was a very humbling journey. During his eight-month Narrow Gate experience, Nate accepted that he was “completely useless and incapable of solving my own problems, let alone the world’s problems.” He remembers this time in the valley as when he entered into a very personal relationship with Jesus – one that drove him to leave his former life behind.
Nate remembers “I felt closest to the Lord when I was outside, walking in God’s creation. The outdoors has always been a significant part of me. On the Appalachian Trail, we would hike all day, singing hymns all the way.”
In September of 2019, Nate graduated with four of his Narrow Gate brothers, marking what is known at Narrow Gate as “end of the beginning.” He says his transformation at Narrow Gate included the desire to present truth out of love and a desire to help others. Nate began his post-graduation life supporting the missions of two local Narrow Gate collaborators and faith-based ministries, Cul2vate and Day Spring Farm. Working at both has allowed Nate to pursue his passion of growing high quality, sustainable food as well as developing and sharing his faith. Day Spring co-founder Wanda Stone describes Nate as “a caring, compassionate young man who seeks Christ like few I have been around. It has been a huge blessing to have him join us at Day Spring Farm.”
Without a doubt, Nate will meet his share of life’s challenges, but through his Narrow Gate experience he has identified his identity and purpose in Christ. He no longer feels compelled to meet the mountains and valleys alone, as he now trusts the Lord to equip him for the road ahead. His immediate plans include applying to seminary in Northern California and further exploration of the Eastern Orthodox Church. While a pastoral student, Nate plans to live and work at Rockside Ranch, a farming ministry tucked in the Marble Mountains and Trinity Alps.
Over 400 young men like Nate Weston have experienced a life-changing, tuition- free journey, one that has transformed them from the inside out. Nate says the unconditional love he was shown at Narrow Gate as a child of God has changed him forever. And that absolute love is going to continue to shape the trajectory of Nate’s life story.