Friday, December 6, 2013

Meet a Cageless Bird: Joel Case

Melissa and I met Joel Case five years ago this autumn.  We first met him at a worship gathering in his hometown of Boston. I will never forget the first time we heard Joel lead worship. From the first note he sang, we could feel the destiny in our friendship with Joel.

Later that year, Joel applied for the 2009 "18 Inch Journey." It was our second year of running our school, so Joel was only one of eleven students. I can't put into words what an incredible summer we had with Joel.  We truly fell in love with Joel's heart and knew that he was going to run with us in the future.  As the school was coming to a close, we invited Joel to come and do an internship with us. He joyfully said yes and made the big move to Sophia, NC.

In the first week of Joel's internship, we found out that he was not only an amazing worshiper, but he was also an incredible drummer.  Melissa and I had been asking the Lord to send us an amazing drummer for years and suddenly the answer was right in front of us. One of the highlights of Joel's internship was the privilege of traveling the world playing drums with us and then getting to play drums on our two albums "On the Shores" and "Endless Ocean, Bottomless Sea." We couldn't have dreamed of a more incredible drummer and a faithful friend.

After his internship, Joel joined us on staff and has been here the last four years. Joel does much more than play drums with us. He is a dynamic leader at our schools, he is pioneering new sounds in our studio, he is a worship leader in our community and most of all he is a man knows that he is the Fathers Beloved.

We couldn't have pulled off this new album "Live at Home" without Joel's creativity, musicianship, technical skills and hard work.  Joel's song on the album is titled the "Lord is My Light." He wrote this song while he was a student in the "18 Inch Journey" and his song has become an anthem of our community. Joel's songs have the ability to take you into the presence of the Lord from the first note. Check out his video recorded live from our house and you will know what I am talking about. You can see it below or at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Live at Home - Videos

Over the next nine weeks we will be releasing a new video from our project Cageless Birds “Live at Home.”  Each Tuesday we will release a new video leading up to the album release on Jan. 24-25th.

"Live at Home" is the first creative adventure of our collective Cageless Birds. The idea for this album was born one day when Melissa and I were dreaming out loud together. We fell into one of those moments where beautiful "what if" thoughts started cascading upon one another. Our conversation sounded something like this....

"What if we recorded an album in our house?....”
“What if invite everyone in our band to record one of their songs for the album?....”
“What if we recorded the whole album in one week?....”
“What if we videoed each song so that everyone could see what's happening in this community?....”
“What if we made this project a true story and didn't overdub or gloss over the mistakes?....”
“What if we let it be a real live album?....”

One of us said ‘this is crazy’ and both of us said ‘let's do it.’  And so we did.  We are very excited to share with you the nine videos and ten-song album that came from pursuing all of our ‘what if’ thoughts.  Please visit for more.

Jonathan & Melissa

Thursday, October 17, 2013

One Bunk Can Change the World!

We are looking for partners to support the dream of the 18 Inch Journey. Our Dream for the 18 Inch Journey is to see a generation liberated by the love of God and walking in their destinies as sons and daughters of the Father.  We want to see healthy marriages before we see thriving ministries.  Our goal is to teach people to receive from God before they give to Him. It has been a joy to do this every summer for the past six years at A Place for the Heart. 

This February we’re adding Phase Two of the 18 Inch Journey.  Phase Two is a six month season of discipleship available for 18 Inch Journey alumni.  During these six months, they receive teaching and mentoring from us, our parents and our intern leaders.  Also, they will strengthen their relationship with the Lord and each other through community living and the pursuit of the arts.
We have 14 amazing 18 Inch Journey alumni returning for Phase Two.  Also, we have 32 new 18 Inch Journey students joining us in June.  Right now, we only have two 16-person bunk houses for students and we need to grow.

So in January, we are breaking ground on our 52 acres to build a brand new cottage.   This cottage will be two floors with 4 rooms that each house 8 people.  There will be a small kitchen and a common area between the rooms.  The bottom floor will have laundry facilities.  The cottage costs $250,000 and our goal is to raise the money before we break ground.

We believe that one bunk can change the world. We’re using 32 bunks every summer.  We plan to add 32 more bunks so that we can change lives and change the world.  We need your help.  We are looking for monthly financial supporters to partner with us in our dream.  Please consider joining us in our dream for the 18 Inch Journey and our goal to build this cottage.

Please visit our website to learn more about this ministry, this project and how you can give.

Thank you,

Jonathan and Melissa Helser

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

the fall season

The 2013 18 Inch Journey

The 2013 Staff and Interns

We just finished the 2013 18 Inch Journey on July 30.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  Sorry for the lack of blog updates, but hopefully our facebook and instagram kept you up to date with this year.  This summer we had nine staff, six interns and 31 students.  Ten international students came this year as well as many students from all over the United States.  It’s always amazing how they hear about the 18 Inch Journey.  Many students say they hear about it from our videos or from our worship nights.  We will have a video for this year.  So stay tuned for it coming out this fall.

The fall season at A Place for the Heart is our more relaxed season.  Jonathan and Melissa and the band are headed to England for David’s Tent and then Jonathan and Melissa will travel on to Norway.  The six interns that have been with us since January will finish their season here in September.  It has been awesome having them here.  They are amazing.  They have learned to love themselves, the Lord and each other.  They were an integral part of this year’s 18 Inch Journey, leading and supporting collectives, helping in the kitchen and loving the students.

Worship is a huge value of our community and we have a lot of worship events coming up.  Check out for events nearest you.  Specifically, we would like to invite you to worship with us on October 19 at the Carolina Theatre.  We love worshiping in the community and have the pleasure of having our good friends John Mark and Sarah McMillan worshiping with us.  This will be a very special night that you will not want to miss!  Click on the banner below to get your ticket!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Adam Cox

We just finished a great week with our dear friend Adam Cox.  We first met Adam when he was 17 and Ken Helser prayed for him at a summer camp.   Adam carries the heartbeat of A Place for the Heart and the 18 Inch Journey.  We have had the honor of having him speak at every 18 Inch Journey.

This week, Adam spoke on Jesus and revealed the Word hidden throughout scripture.  Our hearts burned within us when Adam taught the Word.  Adam has dedicated his life not only to studying the Word, but becoming friends with Jesus.  He revealed the person of Jesus to us when he taught.  Adam’s words carried the passion of his heart for our friend Jesus.

Adam pastors one of our favorite churches called the Kansas City Boiler Room.  He lives with his wife Julie and their three beautiful daughters in Kansas City, MI.  Adam has an amazing teaching of the scripture called ‘The God Story.’  If you would like to know more about Adam and his ministry, you can visit

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Opening Dinner

The Opening Dinner of the 18 Inch Journey (a 60 day heart school) is essential to who we are.  As a community, we spend a substantial amount of face time around the table.  From everyday dinners to birthday celebrations, we gather around the table year round. 

It’s fitting that we begin every 18 Inch Journey around the table.  

On June 1, we welcomed our 31 new students to their place at the table.  It’s always a joy to see the fresh faces as they eagerly walk up the hill to the Farmhouse.  We assign each student to a specific table and designate their place with a special name tag.  Recently, we expanded the kitchen in the Farmhouse and it is our joy to cook meals.  Jonathan and Melissa opened the night by welcoming the students.  Then the first of four small groups read their declarations over the students.  We enjoyed each course of the meal followed by declarations.  After dessert and the last group of declarations, the students introduced themselves and shared what they’re looking to get out of the 18 Inch Journey.  We ended the night by praying over each student and agreeing with the plans of the Father for this summer.

A summer in the woods can change your life.  The gluten free chocolate cake from Linda Helser can help.  Jesus made breakfast for His boys on the beach and emphasized the importance of meals with many stories in scripture centered around food.  He spent time around food and modeled family time around the dinner table.  We believe a generation will find their identity as sons and daughters when they find their place at the table.  The table is not just a place for your cup and plate.  The table is a place for stories and a place where brothers and sisters share their hearts.  So we began at the table on June 1 and we will continue to spend many more meals around the table.  The journey from the head to the heart begins with the invitation to find our place at the table.  May we taste and see that the Lord is good and in so tasting find ours identities in Him.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Days away from the 18 Inch Journey

Hey guys,

We are only days away from the 2013 18 Inch Journey.  We want to keep you up to speed this summer with everything going on and will keep this NEW BLOG updated for you all summer.  You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter for up to date information.

Please stay tuned.  We're looking forward to an amazing summer.