Expanding the Narrow Gate Through Woodworking

Expanding the Narrow Gate Through Woodworking

Established by Bill and Stacy Spencer in 2004, the Narrow Gate Foundation has helped more than 500 young men discover a relationship with Jesus Christ while finding and pursuing their life's purpose. With multiple facets of the foundation including Narrow Gate Lodge and Narrow Gate Trading Co., Narrow Gate utilizes Wood-Mizer portable sawmill equipment to help make a difference in the lives of young men.

Narrow Gate Entrance

Narrow Gate Lodge

The residential ministry that serves as the centerpiece of Narrow Gate allows young men to live and work together for 8 months while pursuing biblical training, personal discipleship, and new life skills. This enables them to pause from the distractions of daily life to discover who Jesus says they are and their calling for the future.

Narrow Gate Ariel Shot

Since 2004, Narrow Gate has helped more than 500 young men to find their purpose and have a generational impact on their families and communities in a positive way. “What happens at Narrow Gate really depends on who you're talking to, because Narrow Gate is represented in a lot of different facets,” explains Founder, Bill Spencer. Most will automatically think of the Narrow Gate Lodge program to help young men between the ages of 18 and 25, however, there is so much more to Narrow Gate.

“But what really happens to those young men we wrap up in the phrase ‘transformation through relationship and confidence through craftsmanship.’" Through this philosophy, the leaders at Narrow Gate were able to expand beyond the lodge into Narrow Gate Leather Goods, Narrow Gate Woodworks, and Narrow Gate Coffee Co. “The transformation from wood, leather, and coffee from raw to finished is just a metaphor for what is going on inside of them,” says Bill.

Narrow Gate Sawmill Shed

“The whole idea of woodworking is in the beginning you have this tree that is dead. It has fallen down and if somebody doesn’t come along and do something to it, it's just going to rot away. But then somewhere along the way somebody comes along and determines that that actually does have value. Transforming what was destined for death into a work of art”, says Graduate, Landon Norman.

Wood Stack

Narrow Gate Trading Co.

With 128 acres of property including dozens of acres of timber, Narrow Gate was set up as a prime location for a woodworking operation. Although it was nothing but a dream at the time, this interest reached an 87-year-old local woodworker, Tom Yontz, who donated his entire woodshop and woodworking equipment for Narrow Gate to get started.


However, even with equipment to process and finish boards into finished projects, Narrow Gate was still relying on purchasing costly lumber instead of sawing logs and producing lumber themselves. Wood-Mizer caught the attention of Narrow Gate which led to their interest in having their own portable sawmill.

Wood-Mizer Sawmill Logo

Today, Narrow Gate uses two Wood-Mizer portable sawmills including an LT15 and an LT35 Hydraulic portable sawmill which enables them to saw their own logs into lumber either from harvested trees on their own property or from donated logs from local arborists. Using their Wood-Mizer portable sawmills, the leaders and students can accomplish amazing projects such as creating quality wood products and doing renovations at the Narrow Gate facility.

Grant Batson explains that the buildings, including their current woodworking shop, found on the Narrow Gate property were, “actually built by us with our students. We did it all, concrete, plumbing, electrical, framing, everything.”

LT35 Sawmill

“As Narrow Gate began year to year to reiterate its expression of who we are we discovered that craftsmanship is a huge component. So, our woodshop got more and more and more involved in our curriculum. The wood education facility is almost 9,000 square feet. Every piece of siding, interior, and exterior was milled out of donated logs that were milled and dried on our property and went into that facility,” says Bill.

With a multitude of different buildings around the property, there are always different upkeep and restoration needs. “We’re constantly running siding materials and building materials for that. We also do some craftmanship oriented things and the sawmill really makes that craftmanship possible in a way that it wouldn’t be if we didn’t have it,” says Graduate, John Moucka.

Student on Sawmill

Using a sawmill has changed how those at Narrow Gate can do projects around the property. Bill explained, "Now we can take trees that came down in development or that came down in storms and we can convert that into dimensional lumber or slabs that can turn into furniture, turn into building projects. The buildings we build on this property we literally side and frame with the lumber that is milled on our sawmill.”

Being able to work hands-on with machines is something some of the men at Narrow Gate have never had the opportunity to do. As a graduate, John explains that “it’s always fun for the guys to learn how to operate that kind of stuff and the sawmill is one of the most useful things that you can have.”

“The thing that I love about Wood-Mizer, is that Wood-Mizer sees its operation as a vested opportunity for every single person in that environment. Every single individual is seen for the advantage that they play and Wood-Mizer operates as a body, just like Narrow Gate. Operates as a body. That kind of symbiosis between the two entities makes a perfect fit,” says Bill.

Woodworking Project

The Future of Narrow Gate

As Narrow Gate continues, they want to make sure they stay true to their beliefs and missions.

“I think woodworking illustrates the process of transformation well because on one end of the operation you run into a boy who doesn’t who he is or what he wants to do with his life. And on the other side of the program out comes a man,” says John.

Students Sitting Around the Fire

Narrow Gate is ultimately a community of brothers who can gather to better themselves while serving God and others.

“Everything is good for something. I really want them to walk away more confident. I want them to walk away having overcome a fear. I believe that every one of them walks away feeling like they can do something and that’s life changing,” says Grant.

Prayer Circle

Narrow Gates allows these young men the opportunity to work with hands and to do something impactful. One student explains that, “knowing that I have a purpose motivates me and it gets me excited to get up and work and love and live.”


Submitting this form indicates that you agree to the terms of Wood-Mizer's Privacy Policy