Hope in the Gate

Citygate Network’s Hope in the Gate initiative brings together people in the final phase of rescue mission recovery programs with singer-songwriters, instructors, life coaches, outdoor activity specialists, and other people who are invested in the program participants’ growth. Each unique three-day retreat utilizes alfresco experiences, music written about the participants’ journeys, Scripture, counseling support, and education to help people discover who they are in Christ and how God designed them on purpose—with a purpose. The participants must be near completion of their recovery programs and recommended for Hope in the Gate by their case navigators.

Amy Grant has hosted the retreat at her working farm near Nashville on several occasions, and other singer-songwriters—such as Cindy Morgan, Mark Elliott, Jonathan Kingham, Mo Pitney, and many others—have also been a part of this venture to date.

A Place to Rest

In the solitude of the rustic Tennessee hills, the participants are given an opportunity for Selah—a pause from the rigors of recovery and urban din—to hear God’s voice and be fully in His presence. In this safe place apart from distractions, negative associations, and routine, they work with professionals to help them identify their unique giftings, accentuate those assets, and overcome their weaknesses. Learning to support one another is another key element.

On the retreat’s second day, the singer-songwriters spend time with the participants, listening to their stories, feeling their pain, and churning that emotion into verse. Just a few hours after interviewing their assigned man or woman, an original song will debut before a gallery of guests, including their peers, music executives, and the inspirations for those tunes. One by one, critically acclaimed artists with chart-topping work in both country and Christian music give one-to-one concerts, while a barn-full of guests look on.

As one program participant summed up his experience at a recent retreat, “This place, these people, the animals, the garden, the things we did, the songs — they will be my strength, and I will never forget it.”

Our Plan

Future retreats, with different Citygate Network member organizations participating, are already on the calendar and being planned. In 2023, Citygate Network plans to take these retreats “on the road” to other parts of the country, opening the opportunity for more member ministries to participate and for larger audiences to learn about the powerful work that missions and similar ministries do.

Apart from serving as a capstone to mark a significant part of each participant’s recovery, another output of the program is a collection of videos produced at the events. These films tell the story of what rescue missions and similar ministries do every day. Since the videos aren’t branded to a particular member ministry, Citygate Network members can use them to communicate to their communities in a fresh and unique way.

These stories of transformation are sure to move you as you reflect on the transforming power of Christ. We hope you enjoy the videos below and will consider your part in promoting the work of Citygate Network members.

It was really great timing for me in the last couple of years to be involved these programs because as a songwriter, I needed to finally go, why am I doing this again? And have an answer that was worth it.
— Mark Elliot

Hope in the Gate at Hidden Trace Farm

Hidden Trace Farm in Tennessee, owned by singer-songwriter Amy Grant, was busy with filming for the first episode of “Hope in the Gate,” produced by Citygate Network and Willow Bend Creative. Participants in a life-transformation program of Nashville Rescue Mission spent three days experiencing farm life and God’s creation, all the while telling their life stories to songwriters. Check out this story of lives made new in Christ.

Being able to tell your story inside a structure is safe. They're willing to tell you more of themselves and more of their story and maybe even take a risk in telling you things because of the structure in the song. They feel safe. It's like a house that's well built.
— Bruce Koblish

Hope in the Gate: The Music

Original Songs—Difficult Stories—Hope for the Future

Hidden Trace Farm in Tennessee was the location for the second episode of “Hope in the Gate,” produced by Citygate Network and Willow Bend Creative. Participants in a life-transformation program were joined by guests from our first Hidden Trace Retreat and experienced farm life and God’s creation, telling their life stories to songwriters. The tunesmiths translated the guests’ journeys and encounters with Christ into original songs of inspiration and anticipation. Amy Grant, Cindy Morgan, Mark Elliott, Jonathan Kingham, and Phil Madeira were among the singers and songwriters who took part in this venture. So take a moment to enjoy the following “Hope in the Gate” story.

All of the women from the first retreat that came back to the next retreat, it was like they were different people. It was like they were transformed...when you feel like someone heard you, and someone validated your experience, it is life changing and I saw that in their faces .
— Cindy Morgan

Hope in the Gate: Testimonies of Change

In this video, CEOs from the first two Citygate Network member organizations to participate talk about their groups’ experiences and how the Hidden Trace Retreats impacted their people and advanced their life-transformation journeys.


If I wouldn't have turned my life toward Christ. I wouldn't be doing none of this. I wouldn't be standing right here. You know, it's, it's wonderful. I don't beat myself up. I just thank God that I had an opportunity to turn turn it around, you know,
— Deborah (a guest at the farm)


Make a Donation

A gift designated for Hope in the Gate multiplies by reaching more people with compelling stories of God’s relentless pursuit of every person—even through desperate and destitute circumstances. We are currently planning additional retreats and videos. Your contribution will be used to continue these efforts, boost public awareness campaigns, and increase exposure to the work of Citygate Network members.