Lack of funding cancels Wilderness Outcry religious retreat

Friday, April 23, 2010
Dutch Sheets, a religious author and faith healer from Colorado, was a driving force behind Wilderness Outcry, a five-day religious retreat planned for June. The event was canceled today because of lack of funding.

Wilderness Outcry has been canceled due to a lack of funds, according to a press release issued by Dutch Sheets' office this morning.

Sheets, a religious author and faith healer from Colorado, suddenly pulled out after it was determined Wednesday that the five-day religious retreat less than two months away would be scaled back.

"We believe this vision is of the Lord, and certainly no one can deny the desperate need of our nation for prayer, but the reality is that provision for the high cost of doing an event like [this] -- most of which must be paid in advance -- has simply not materialized," said the prepared statement sent to the Daily American Republic by Dutch's wife, Ceci Sheets.

Host Jerry Murphy, who reportedly has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into his property along County Road 543 over the past several months, said this morning that he is presently in contact with other regional ministries to determine if any gathering will take place.

"The involvement and support of ministries, business, community leaders, friends and family has been overwhelming and we will always be grateful for the unity and relationships that this endeavor has already brought about in community," Murphy wrote in an e-mail.

The Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce sent out information Thursday afternoon, telling its membership that 25,000 visitors are being anticipated, down from 50,000 - 100,000, previously announced by Steve Brown, event coordinator with Resource Group.

More than 10,000 people were registered before the function was disabled as of today on the official Web site, although it was not necessary to sign up since the event was free, with the exception of people camping on Murphy's more than 400 acres.

Steve Halter, president of the chamber, said he spent all day Wednesday meeting with officials from Dutch's office, the event planning firm and area law enforcement officials.

"I thought I'd get this thing rolling since local vendors weren't selected yet," Halter said. "Everything appeared to be a go."

Two weeks ago, Dutch spoke before about 75 people from the local pastoral community, warning that America is on the verge of becoming a "post-Christian nation" and that God had "chosen Poplar Bluff" to possibly bring forth a Great Awakening at Wilderness Outcry this summer.

The event would cost several hundred thousand dollars to put on, Dutch noted, but donations were being solicited through their national "Awakening and Reformation" tour.

"We were confident we could raise this money. We were wrong," the press release from Dutch Sheets Ministries stated. "The line between true faith and presumptions can be very fine sometimes, and our ability to truly discern God's will can be difficult. Obviously, we fell short in both areas."

Billed as a consecration, Poplar Bluff business owner Murphy linked up with Sheets in August, when they shared their large ambitions.

Supporters from all over the country professed their belief in the event on the Wilderness Outcry Facebook page, while skeptics went as far as to create an anti-Wilderness Outcry.

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