Share this story

 | By Joey Reistroffer

Exodus 90 is a Journey Beyond GPS

Exodus 90 takes men on a trek away from their old selves, because they realize that their faith demands it. Lollygagging on God doesn’t get it done, so they step out of their comfort zone. Way out — so far out that after the original 90-day program ends, they can take their faith even farther and sign up for Day 91.

Some men have been on this adventure for five years and are never going back. They say their lives are more fulfilling, families are closer, marriages are rock solid and built on a foundation centered on God.

Exodus 90 and Day 91 are both molded by prayer, fraternity and asceticisms, or sacrifices. Oh, men falter; the programs are not easy. But the beautiful thing about this odyssey is that men do it together, walking to a holier place and picking each other up when they stumble.

Mario Insabella said many new adherents worry about taking cold showers in the dead of winter, when Exodus 90 starts. Beginners shudder and shiver at first, until they realize why they are doing this crazy thing.

“It’s something that we give up because he gave up so much more for us,” Insabella said of the sacrifices Jesus made for humanity. “And it gets your body going.”

Now, Insabella takes it in stride. These cold showers offer a perfect time to pray.

“We would say an Our Father during that time,” he said.

Jim Netherton understands. He’s gone through Exodus 90 and has continued with Day 91.

“You offer up that cold shower for something that is good,” Netherton said. “It becomes second nature to you.”

It all starts with prayer.

In Exodus 90, a man commits to engaging in a holy hour each day, which includes reading the day’s Scripture and reflection, along with reading a portion of Exodus. Then the asceticisms kick in: cold showers; exercise; no alcohol, desserts or sweets; no snacking between meals; no soda or sweet drinks; no TV, movies or video games; computers or mobile devices can only be used for essential purposes like work; plus fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.

To get through it, men gather for weekly meetings. They need support when they lapse, and that fraternity is essential to building each other up and holding one another accountable.

On Day 91, “we will find time during each day to call each other.” Insabella said. “What’s going on? What’s your frustration? My wife can tell when I’m on the phone with one of the guys,” he said.

The daily readings and reflections often focus on sufferings and offering up those sufferings to Jesus.

“We’re giving up watching sports. No March Madness. No Super Bowl. We’re giving up the news,” Insabella said.

The toughest part for Netherton is the stricter diet.

“I lost 30 pounds,” he said. “It’s not that easy; I love to eat! I’ve cut out sugar. I’ve cut out sweets. I love sugar. I love sweets.”

And, Netherton, said he loves his wife, who has been 110% supportive of his participation in these programs.

“It’s not for everybody, but it’s for me,” Netherton said. “After I went through Exodus 90, it increased my prayer life and my faith tenfold. It is challenging you.”

And it takes men out of their daily routine.

“I’m pretty rigid. My pattern stays the same. Something out of the ordinary is a huge challenge,” Netherton said, “something like praying the rosary every day. You’ve got to discipline yourself. I have made it a habit, and after 90 days, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.”

He also said Day 91 got him and his wife to start going through the Bible together, and that was worth losing a little weight over.

For John Slaughter, a five-year veteran of Exodus 90 and Day 91, the hunger pangs from fasting never get easy, but one of his biggest challenges is the exercise.

“That part is tough for me,” he said. “I don’t run unless something is chasing me.”

However, he sees the need for it.

“It changes your whole life as far as your health goes,” he said, and the weekly meetings and the daily calls are essential.

There are about 10 men in his Day 91 group, and he trusts them.

“We can call these guys, and they will be there for you,” he said. “This is helping me to stay tuned in. We need to have something daily to keep us on track to be the man God is calling you to be.”

The evening reflections help, he said, because “you hold a nightly exam. That’s a challenge. You look at your day and how you lived your Christian walk.”

The Day 91 program lasts 35 to 40 days. During each segment, participants read certain sections of the Bible and have different asceticisms.

“Every single one of them has at least 20 minutes of silent prayer each day,” Slaughter said of the segments. “It is built around building your prayer life.”

As asceticisms cut out social media and TV, men find bigger chunks of time to focus on more important things.

“Asceticisms can help make the relationship with your spouse better,” Slaughter said. “You start seeing things that you’ve never seen before. You listen to your wife, and you start anticipating her needs. If you’re not married, that transfers over to God.”

And once men say yes to taking this journey toward a holier life, they don’t want to go back — the new habits bring them closer to their families and to the Lord.