(CEM’s annual 15-day backpacking trip serves as an opportunity for our students and interns to unplug from the responsibilities and distractions of daily life and experience the great outdoors. CEM has been leading wilderness backpacking trips since its inception over 40 years ago.)
Read below for glimpses of how this 15-day backpacking trip in Tahoe National Forest with no toilet paper (and other essentials) rocked our world. Somedays we wanted to give in and give up, but instead we learned to look in and look up. To God be the glory.
Sierra was born with a hole in her heart, an effect of alcohol in the womb. Open heart surgery was in order - twice - to patch the hole. As life resumed, Sierra found herself at a horse ranch with her mother. Sierra’s father eventually manipulated his way back into Sierra’s life, despite her mother’s original attempts to create separation.
When Sierra was eight years old, her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. As Sierra’s grandparents stepped in to care for their daughter, Sierra’s father became her sole caretaker. It soon became apparent to Sierra’s teachers that things weren’t right at home, so CPS got involved. Sierra’s grandparents were granted custody; not too long after, Sierra’s mother passed away.
In 2011, Sierra graduated from high school. It was then that her high school sweetheart introduced her to meth, which would dictate her life for the next five years. After he was put in jail for theft, Sierra found alternative methods of obtaining the drug. When Sierra didn’t come home for three days straight, her then boyfriend notified her grandparents, who painted a clear picture of two options: rehab or homelessness.
Then began the battle to stay clean. Sierra managed seven months after her first stint of rehab before she relapsed. “I would be out there for four to six months and then be clean for a month. It’s all very vague… I eventually lost my car. Then I went back to rehab on my own choice. I was 90 days clean - and one month clean after that. I relapsed again and was homeless without a vehicle. Eventually I got really possessed by the drug. I did things that were not my usual.” Circumstances escalated quickly, the cops got involved, and in her depression, Sierra’s only solace was drugs.
In April of 2016, after a referral from Powerhouse Ministries, Sierra came to CEM for a tour. Though CEM seemed to be a nice enough place, she wasn’t convinced that a long-term placement was necessary. “I tried doing it on my own...but I relapsed again. It got out of control...My grandparents told me to go to a program.”
Sierra arrived at CEM that October. “I wasn’t a Christian, but I didn’t want to go to [another secular] recovery program - I didn’t think it was working for me.” Sierra integrated easily into the structure and discipline of work program and began soaking in spiritual input and biblical truth. “The biggest things I learned here are learning about the Bible, learning about Jesus, and learning to be at peace with myself. Knowing God has my back, I can trust Him. He’s my Savior!” As Sierra moves forward from CEM, she requests prayer for her ongoing involvement in church and for her relationship with the Lord.
Chairman, CEM Board of Directors
While we, the Board, prepared for Chuck and Barbara’s venture off into the anticipated future of retirement, we spent much time, corporately and individually, prayerfully seeking God’s desire for the anticipated future of CEM’s leadership. We have taken into consideration both near-term and long-term ministry needs. We have attempted to be good stewards of the resources and opportunities which God has provided. With those considerations, it seemed prudent to us to ask Nate Boyd (pictured) to step into the Executive Director’s position for the near term. Please join us in congratulating Nate on this new venture of trust and pray for him in this new role.
Please join us in the CEM Dining Room for a dessert reception
hosted by the CEM Board of Directors
as we celebrate Chuck and Barbara's retirement.
Sunday, October 15 @ 3pm
17183 Retrac Way
Grass Valley, CA
You are invited to bring a card for the Boatman's and a dessert to share!
Questions: Call the CEM office @ 530.268.0877
The following article appeared in CEM's October 2017 Newsletter:
A Timely Farewell
BY: Chuck Boatman
CEM Executive Director, 2016-2017
God gave us seasons in the natural world. As we all discover at some point— usually as we get older—there are seasons to our lives, as well. Youth is sometimes described as springtime, summer as early adulthood, autumn as our later adult years, and winter as those years when the end of our earthly lives becomes ever more imminent. With more than eight decades of life behind me, I can’t deny that “winter” is coming
The numbers are in. 77 riders. 16,446* miles ridden. $185,160 pledged for CEM. God’s protection was evident this year as ominous clouds broke forth with heavy rain just hours after the ride, a lightning strike igniting a nearby hillside. Temperatures were moderate throughout the ride and no major injuries were sustained. We watched our Agony community grow as seasoned riders recruited family and friends for the cause, our first-time riders equalling one-fourth of the rider total.
We’re grateful for all the time, energy, and countless resources poured into the ride by hundreds of people, and we can’t thank you enough for investing in our mission of tending lives and training leaders.
Paxton Fitzpatrick, former intern and William Jessup University ‘16 graduate, came on staff as the Assistant Director of Internship and Discipleship last month. After Paxton completed his 3-month internship in the summer of ‘15, he continued to frequent his “second home” and became an informal spokesman for the ministry. When Paxton had first arrived at CEM, Tim Metzger was the senior intern showing him the ropes, so it was only natural that Tim was the one to train him in his new role. We’re grateful for Tim and the time and resources he’s invested in CEM, often going above and beyond the call of duty. Tim will be assuming duties at his home church, Sacramento Friends Church, serving as the ministry coordinator and completing a pastoral internship.
Ropes Course Day is the precursor to our 15-day backpacking trip, testing the strength, agility, and stamina of students and interns. We saw brazen courage, camaraderie, and a whole lot of tenacity out there.
Savannah (pictured above) shares, “Last year I cried my whole way up the ladder. My faith has become a lot stronger that it has ever been. This year I wasn’t scared at all...”
Please keep our students and interns in prayer as they continue their trek through Tahoe National Forest. They return Sept. 8.
Elexis was just beginning her teenage years when her father got out of prison. He had been a mere phantom in her growing up years, the occasional phone call reminding Elexis of his absence. It was her eighth grade promotion that set the stage for their introduction. The brief interaction reminded her of the chasm between them that had been growing wider all these years. “I wanted him to understand how I was doing and how I’ve grown. I wanted him to understand me and who I was becoming.”
With her early teenage years also came the birth of a half-brother. Within a short period of time, Elexis’ world had been knocked sideways and turned upside down. Elexis was barely hanging on. She yearned for her mother’s affections, but found herself reviling the woman whom she needed the most. “I didn’t like how I was treating my mom. I said she was controlling, but she was doing everything she could to help me succeed and have a good life...I blamed her for my dad not being there. I was hurt, so I took it out on her.”
Seven years after his completion of the CEM program, Sean Thompson returned to CEM with his wife, Cherise, and son, Charlie, to receive the Alumni Award.
During our Spring Celebration and Graduation, Sean shared the following:
“Seven years. One engagement. One marriage. One apartment. One duplex. One home. Eleven jobs. Eighteen cars. Two cats. One dog. One baby. One family...I’ve had one God this whole time. The same God who found me contemplating suicide in my room in the dark is the same God who helped me through the Ranch, the same God who helped me through community college, the same God who helped me through my marriage. It’s just crazy to think that this same God is there for each moment. He is so much bigger and can do so much more than we give Him credit for.”
Celebrate with us all that God has done this past year!
Excerpts from 2017 Graduate speeches:
“It was very hard when I had to come here to CEM. I was still mourning the loss of my mom [the year before] to stage 3 ovarian cancer [after a ten year battle]...When I came to CEM, I was not ready to let anybody in. It was hard on me and on them, but now I’m way stronger than I have ever been in my 20 years of life. I have to thank everyone who pushed me beyond my limits and for always being there for me. Thank you for giving me the strength and the motivation to find my way and push through with my education...” - Brianna
“[At CEM] I’ve made new friends, new memories, and I look to the future with new eyes. I’ve realized that I came to a place where God lives, a place where you can truly encounter God...” - Zack
“When I came to the Ranch, I was depressed and suicidal. I could not see God in my life, and with all that I had done and gone through, I couldn’t see why He’d want to be a part of it. I was masking a lot of my pain and fear with just about anything that could make you feel like anything you’re not. Thanks to an old friend, I found the Ranch, where I stayed until this past February. This is where I met Christ. All of what I had tried to do on my own to get better, to move on, to find healing and peace was ultimately worthless in comparison to the all-powerful God who can redeem every chapter of our lives. Since knowing Christ, He’s given me the peace, healing, strength, and power to let go of what is behind me.”