The 18 Inch Journey

A Place for the Heart exists to teach and inspire generations to live wholeheartedly in their identity as sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.

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The world is loud, and it’s hard to hear the Lord when life zooms around you like a freight train on steroids. Ken and Linda Helser understand this and began A Place for the Heart in 1985 to offer a place to disconnect from their busy lives and reconnect people to their Heavenly Father. “A Place for the Heart exists to teach and inspire generations to live wholeheartedly in their identity as sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.”

A Place for the Heart has three core pillars: worship, creativity, and community. The Helsers have come to realize that these three rhythms are essential for living a full life with the Holy Spirit, and they want to help others experience this.

Jonathan and Melissa Helser, Ken and Linda’s son and daughter-in-law, joined them in the ministry in 1999. Jonathan and Melissa helped pioneer the 18 Inch Journey, which is a training ground of sorts for the heart. The name is a very simple representation of the length from your head down to your heart. This is a strong symbol of what the goal of this journey is–to move your relationship with the Lord from a head place into a heart place.

There are two phases to the 18 Inch Journey. Phase 1 is where students from all over the world come for two months to stay at A Place for the Heart. These students learn to trade in their life rhythms, logic, and rationality for a deep connection with the trinity. They “want to teach these students to steward their emotions, dreams, and desires by connecting them with the voice and identity of their Heavenly Father.”

Phase 2 is available for graduates from Phase 1. This season is six months long and is an even more intentional discipleship and teaching time. In this phase, students will “participate in music, art, and various other creative classes and impartation sessions.” This season in the 18 Inch Journey is the “sweet spot,” where students develop a depth and insight they can pour into the Phase 1 students. In Phase 2, they not only learn through heart connection and emotional growth, but they learn to hear God in the everyday tasks. They wash dishes and tend to gardens; they also learn the voice of the Lord through cleaning and helping fellow classmates with life.

Following 18inchjourney on Instagram is a great way to see into their small world of transformation. A recent post says,

Last night we had our Creative Collective presentation for our second year school. It was magnificent!!! We run Collectives (pottery, darkroom photography, musicianship, screen printing and videography) through our schools because we believe that creativity is the right and inheritance of every human and an absolute necessity to the wholehearted journey. Jonathan [and I] were blown away at what our students created and everything they heard from the heart of Jesus about their identity. I absolutely love our schools.

This post went along with a video, showcasing musicians performing, paintings hung on gallery walls, watercolor pages being turned, people standing and reading to one another from thick-skinned journals, and lots of laughter and hugging. It was obvious that these people had journeyed together and were close. They felt loved and were allowed to be vulnerable with one another. No one seemed shy or insecure, although I’m sure plenty of them came into the program that way. Shyness isn’t bad, but shyness can fall by the wayside when you are in a group of people who know you and value you well. This was obviously that kind of scenario.

The love that pours out of the people who go through the 18 Inch Journey is remarkable. It’s the kind of love that hits you hard and square in the chest. It’s an unashamed, obvious, large, honest kind of love. The kind of love Jesus gives. The 18 Inch Journey is meant to bring hearts to life, to foster creativity, and breathe life into old, dying places. It’s an incredible program that instills a tenderness in the way the people of the program live.

If you want to learn more about the 18 Inch Journey, please click here for more information, and click here for answers to frequently asked questions.


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About the Author

Dawn King is a Carolina native with a Neverland heart. She's an Enneagram 4 that believes beauty can be found even in the darkest of places, light is always bright enough to outshine darkness, and love is stronger than any madness or evil. She values kindness and honesty more than most anything else. She will always believe that to change the world you must first change yourself.