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About The Outpost

After some life changing setbacks and multiple failures in life I knew something had to change. Our home was about to go into foreclosure, and we were struggling to get by but I was determined to wait upon the Lord to show us our direction. During this time, I received a vision with a plan for a general store & restaurant that would serve multiple purposes with a mission that would also give back to the community. After receiving this plan of inspiration, I began to pray on the location and where this was to begin. 

I will never forget the morning that I woke up and told my wife (Cher) that I was going to Clifton, Tennessee. I thought it was for ministry purposes due to being led into prison ministry. So, I drove to Clifton that day and found the CCA prison now CoreCivic located in Clifton and walked in the front doors but as I entered it did not feel right at the time, so I turned around and left the facility. As I was returning home, I passed a business in Clifton that had a large sign on the front. This sign had a phone number on it that just so happened to match another number that we had been looking at on a piece of property just below the Pickwick Dam to possibly start the mission at the Outpost. Now I knew why I was led to travel to Clifton, Tennessee.

After contacting the business owner in Clifton, we set a time to meet at the owner's home to discuss his piece of property that was for sale just below the Pickwick Dam on the Tennessee River. On the day of the meeting and prior to entering his home I began to apply what I had learned during my setbacks in life by simply stopping for prayer before attempting to do something on my own. Upon entering his home there were two men in the room and one was fighting cancer and the other was a business partner from California. I introduced myself and said these vary words," My name is James Harrison, I only have seven dollars, but I do have a vision and faith." Paul (the property owner with cancer) then told me to write it down on paper and to come back to share it with him at a later date.

The day came for us to meet again and as we discussed the vision, we then began to negotiate the price. I knew financially what he had in the property due to some previous research and not to mention the state that it was in, but we were in no place to negotiate the price or terms due to simply being financially broke. But again, we may have been financially broke but we did have a vision and faith.

 As we set there discussing the possible purchase I felt as if I was making a deal with the devil because he knew my position and took full advantage of it. I remember sitting there and saying to myself that it did not matter the price because if it is in the Lords will that money was not an object. It was offered to us with a lease purchase with the first three months at no charge before the monthly payments were to begin. Under normal circumstances this would have been no deal because I could see through his intentions. He made it sound good but what did he have to lose? Here was someone willing to come in and improve the property and if it was to fail then he would just have it back in better shape than it was before.

Once we reached our agreement Paul then began to share with me what sparked his interest in our first meeting. He began to tell me that when he started a hotel that he owned in Lake Tahoe that just prior to opening he had been out gambling and lost his money that night but was only left with seven dollars and besides that lightning even struck his hotel sign that same night. I knew then that God had crossed our paths for more than just the purchase of the property it was about his soul. In my old life I would have never payed attention to the signs and confirmations.

Now the work was to begin, how were we to open a business with a property that needed so much work and without the financial means to even begin. I remember praying and asking how Lord? Then the Lord placed it in my spirit that He gave me two hands and two feet with the capability to begin. So how did we begin? We began with grassroots efforts by simply picking up garbage and cleaning up the litter on the property. 

There was a portable building on site next to the old Adams Bait Shop that used to be open there several years ago before closing. After being able to secure a loan at a local bank this boost allowed us to finish out the portable building on site which is still in operation today. Being the general store & bait shop offering take out only with a couple of staple items that we still serve today being the smoked chicken, pulled pork and baby back ribs . I recall even stocking the store with all of my own fishing gear just to have inventory to sell. We did not even have an oven to cook with at the store but when I prayed on this, it was brought to my attention that we had one at home. I thought to myself, you have got to be kidding! So, every morning we would get up at 3am to cook biscuits at our home and then transport them in a cooler to the store to keep them warm prior to opening in hopes to sell them to the few who may stop in on their way to work or to the lake. Talk about humble beginnings! This is where we really understood the meaning of the scripture of Zecheriah 4:10 " Not to despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." 

As the work continued and the business began to grow our son Colby left college to join us. We worked together as a family and not looking at the returns on the money but staying focused on the mission and simply trying to survive. I can recall asking Colby one day, 'Why did you leave school? And he replied, "I wanted to help you and mom." As a father there are no words to express the blessings of starting something together and being able to work together as a family unit. 

A couple years later we were finally able to open the restaurant for dine in but in December of 2013 we experienced the worst nightmare for any parent when a State Trooper came knocking on our door. He informed us that our son Colby had been in an accident and was being airlifted to Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. When we arrived, they directed us to a private room to inform us that our son had passed. There are no words to describe this pain in our hearts!!! 

With the business and with our responsibility to our employees at that time we closed for a week before reopening a week to the day. It was extremely difficult to return to the Outpost without Colby by our side, but we knew that this had to be done. I'll never forget one of the employees coming up to me the day of our reopening and asked if I would like to know Colby's last words to him just as he was dropping him off after work to Teen Challenge where he was temporarily residing. He said it was as if God spoke Colby directly to him just before the accident. He said, "I was mad and venting on the drive back to Teen Challenge and stated that he was going to give them a piece of his mind and just as he was about to get out Colby's said these words that changed his whole approach. Colby said, "Be careful the words you speak because you never know if they may be your last and the impression that you may leave on someone."  He went on to tell me that those words spoken through Colby changed him from entering out of anger but out of love. It was during this season of our life that MissionCraft was inspired due to the cost of coffins and assisting families during their time of loss.