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Christian Encounter News

Welcome to the Christian Encounter News Page. Here we keep you updated on all that is going on in the life of the extended Ranch Family. This includes updates on former students and interns, as well as inspiring stories and event recaps.


Summer Wilderness


CEM's annual 15-day summer backpacking trip begins Friday. Lead by several staff members, each year all of our students and interns participate. The purpose: to learn and grow as an individual and in one's relationship with the Lord through an outdoor experience. 

We'll return on Friday, September 4. Join us Tuesday, September 15th @ 7 pm for "Wilderness Paper Night", during which each student and several interns will share regarding their personal experience.

New Student Arrivals


We have four new students scheduled to arrive between now and August 7th. We are excited to welcome each of them and be a part of their journey of healing, freedom, and new life in Jesus.

We also have four interns scheduled to leave between now and August 12th! Please pray for our intern team as they adjust to being a team of 6 with 16 students!

Financial Report


Thank you, Lord, for your provision! Last year at this time we reported a deficit of $45,600. Through His faithfulness and generous donors we paid off that deficit and are currently in the black. We were also able to do some large projects including re-tiling the kitchen floor and counters, remodeling the intern office, installing a new commercial washing machine, and recently replacing our worn-out ice machine and kitchen range. May God bless all of you for your prayers and giving!

Student Pray Outs


Congratulations to Kareem and Megan, two students who were recently prayed out. It was a blessing to live with, work with, and love both of you. We are praying for you and hope that you choose to put into practice the tools and wisdom you gained during your time at the Ranch!

2015 Family Camp


Spots are filling up quickly for Family Camp 2015! See all the details and register today on our Family Camp page. Have more questions? Call Caryn @ 530-268-0877

Spring Celebration & Graduation


Over the last year, we've had 25 students, 16 interns, 4 residents at our transition house, & 100+ volunteers. That is a lot of people to CELEBRATE! We also have 5 CEHS graduates this year! ... We'd love for you to join us Saturday, May 30th @ 2pm in Angel's Meadow for our Spring Celebration & Graduation Ceremony! Have questions? Call us @ 530-268-0877.

Generational Leadership


CEM is excited to host Generational Leadership (GL), an 11-month Christian leadership school from Maple Valley, WA, over the next three days. Former CEM student, Justice Loeza, is a current student with GL. During their time here, the GL crew will do work projects and Thursday evening, starting at 7:30, in the lodge, will have an evening of song, dance, and testimony. We'd love for you to join us!

Spring Work Day


We'd love to have you come to Spring Work Day! Saturday, May 16, from 9-4, join us in beautifying the CEM property! We'll have a variety of skilled and non-skilled projects for groups and individuals. Want to let us know you're coming or ask questions? Call Kayla @ 530.268.0877

Recent Blessings and Current Needs


Recent Blessings: Abundant food - pastries, produce, bread, energy bars, coffee, and many other items; painting canvases and supplies; clothing; toiletries; alfalfa hay; vehicle windshield; basketball; 10 soccer balls; living room chair; 2 recliners; XC skies, poles, boots; dining room set; 2002 Dodge Caravan; Costco gift card; 2 chests of drawers; boom box; games; school supplies - calculators, index cards, markers, books; DVDs; HP printer.

Current Needs: Hay bales for cows; truck inner tubes for floating; wooden pews; heavy-duty irrigation hose; small pick up truck; T posts for fencing; metal leaf rakes; bags of concrete mix; lawn mower (heavy duty); weed wacker; chain saw.

For more ideas of where to give, visit our Material Needs and Special Projects pages.

PR Trip to Southern California


CEM staff members, Nate Boyd and Charlie Cazin, will be heading out this Saturday for an 8-day PR Trip to Southern California. They'll be visiting several churches and college campuses throughout the week. Interested in having them visit your church group? Call our office at 530-268-0877. 


Current Interns


We have a dynamic group of interns serving at CEM. Several are contributing to the development of new promotional material including videos, t-shirt designs, and more. It is so great to see the Lord use each of their unique skills and passions to benefit CEM! Interested in serving at CEM as an intern? Visit our Internship pages for more information.

Girls' "Igloo" 2015


There may not be enough snow to build igloos, but the girls are still going on an adventure this weekend! 7 students, 4 interns, and 3 staff members will leave Friday morning for a 3-night winter camping/hiking/backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Please pray for safety, but most importantly for spiritual impact and growth.


Mike Petrillo's Retirement Party & Reception 


Please join us for:
Mike Petrillo's Retirement Party & Reception
Saturday, Jan. 31 @ 3:00pm
In the CEM Lodge 

Join us for the "after party" from 5:00-7:00pm at Alta Sierra Pizza in Grass Valley.

If you would like to make a scrapbook submission for Mike, please email photos/text to

Have questions or need more info? Call us! 530-268-0877


School Semester Ends


Our school students took their last Semester Finals today. As of today, three of our students have officially completed all necessary graduation requirements for the State of California. Congratulations to Shane, Cheyenne, and Katelyn Joy. We are very proud of you and look forward to celebrating your graduation, along with others', in May!

Christmas is Here


Christmas Banquet is in two days. The Ranch elves are hard at work wrapping presents and preparing a feast! Christmas Break begins Sunday, 12/21 and ends Monday, 12/29. Please remember to pray for our students and interns as they celebrate Christmas away from the Ranch.

Abundant Provision, part 2


A long-time supporter of the Ranch recently passed away. He was thoughtful and generous to include us in his estate planning. Yesterday, we received his financial gift which will help to close the financial gap we've recently been experiencing. We thank God for the blessings He gives through His people!

2 Corinthians 9:6-10 (NIV)

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.


Abundant Provision


We’re counting our blessings at CEM. Many of you responded to our deficit report in July, helping close the gap. Revenue for the first four months of the current fiscal year is up by $4,741 over last year. In addition, the kitchen tile project is fully funded and almost completed. Our prayers for male interns have also been answered. One year ago we had one male intern; now we have four. We are operating at optimal capacity with 16 students, packing out our schoolhouse with 14 students.

While revenue has increased, expenses have as well, still leaving a budgetary deficit. As you consider your year-end giving please keep CEM and these precious young people in mind.


Christmas Tree Sales to Benefit CEM


This weekend (Saturday 9-5 & Sunday 10-5) CEM staff, interns, and students will be working at Wolf Mountain Christmas Tree Farm. Located near the Ranch at 18251 Retrac Way. Come and buy your Christmas tree - ALL proceeds will be donated to CEM!


Rummage Sale to Benefit CEM


On Saturday, November 8, from 7am-3pm, we're having a HUGE rummage sale and ALL proceeds will benefit CEM. Location: 10247 Aspen Road, Grass Valley, CA 95945

Show up. Shop. And help 'Rescue Youth from Ruin'!

Come to CEM for Thanksgiving!


We're having Thanksgiving at our "house" and you're invited. The meal will be at 2:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day - November 27, 2014. Guests can plan to arrive around 1:30 pm. Please call Zoya @ 530-268-0877 to RSVP and we'll let you know how you can contribute to the meal! 


Mike Petrillo's Retirement Party & Reception 


Mark your calendars! Mike's retirement party and reception will be January 31, 2015. Stay tuned for more details. If you would like to make a scrapbook submission for Mike, please email photos/text to or mail it in pre-made, marked "Attn: Zoya Lee". 


Interim Executive Director Determined 


It is my privilege to announce that the Christian Encounter Ministries’ Board of Directors has selected Mark Andrews to serve as the Interim Executive Director of CEM. Mark will assume his duties on February 1, 2015. It will be a great honor for me to plan and initiate the process of leadership transition with him. The Board has chosen Mark because of his wide range of ministry experiences before coming to CEM, and because of his thorough knowledge of many daily operations in CEM life. Mark will be invaluable in the training of a new Executive Director and will assist the Board in their ongoing search and evaluation process.

Mark’s term of office as Director will be determined by the availability of the next director. It is his hope to return to his regular duties as Director of Internship and Pastoral Care at the earliest possible date. I have full confidence in Mark’s commitment to the central themes of Christian Encounter Ministries and in his ability to lead the CEM family into the next phase of leadership. Please continue your prayers for the ministry of tending lives and training leaders.

Very Sincerely,

Mike Petrillo
Executive Director, CEM


Fall Work Day


CEM's Annual Fall Work Day is just around the corner! Join us on Saturday, October 18th @ 9 am to help beautify our 86-acres. Have questions or want to let us know you are coming? Call Kayla @ 530.268.0877

Alumni News


Annie (Middlebrook) Jauken (student, 2008) and her husband, Nick, welcomed their first child, Nicholas Michael, into the world on July 15, 2014, in Fort Collins, CO. Congratulations Annie and Nick! God bless your new family!

Wedding bells have been ringing this summer for some of our Ranch alumni!

Alyssa Arcadi (intern, 2013) and Nate Boyd (intern, 2010) were married June 7, 2014 at La Habra Hills Presbyterian Church in La Habra, California. Nate is on staff at CEM as the Assistant Intern Director. Alyssa is busy making their home and searching for a job.

Micaela Surgett (student, 2008) and Jonathan Terra were married July19, 2014. The Terras
reside in Carson City, Nevada.

Amy Rothman (student, 2008; intern, 2012) and R.C. Mayer were married July 27, 2014 at
The Ridge Country Club in Auburn, California. Amy and R.C. reside in Colfax, California.

May God abundantly bless these new marriages!

Fall Quarter Begins


Fall is in full swing at CEM! Students, interns, and staff returned safely from the 15-day backpacking trip last Friday and Monday morning school students will return to the classroom for the first day of the Fall semester. Many of our students come to CEM having experienced years of "academic failure". However, at Christian Encounter High School we have incredible teacher-to-student ratios, and each student has hours of tailored help and structured study hall time each week. With that, almost all of our students begin to experience academic success, some for the very first time! Please pray that this will be true for our current students.


Summer Wilderness


Tomorrow is Day 1 of CEM's annual 15-day summer backpacking trip. Lead by several staff members, each year all of our current students and interns participate. The purpose: to learn and grow as an individual and in one's relationship with the Lord through an outdoor experience. The staff leaders are fully trusting that God wants to do BIG things in the lives of each student and intern this year. Will you pray for each participant to be able to receive all that God intends during this trip?

We'll return on Friday, September 5. Join us Thursday, September 11th @ 7 pm for "Wilderness Paper Night", during which each student and several interns will share regarding their personal experience.

Welcome Students


We have several new students to welcome to the CEM family. Michelle and Elana, both from California, and Marianna, from Washington, have all arrived within the month. Each of the girls are adjusting to life as students at the ranch. Please pray that their time at CEM would be full of healing, learning, and growth and that we, as students and interns, will do all we can to aide in those things.


Retirement Party for Jim & Marion Parker


Jim and Marion Parker are retiring! We will be having a small reception for them after church (approximately 11:30 a.m.) on Sunday, September 7. We'd love for everyone to join us in honoring Jim & Marion for their MANY years of dedicated service! If you have questions, please call the CEM office @ 530.268.0877


Agony Update


Agony 2014 begins in less than 48 hours. Staff, interns and students are busy making last-minute preparations. The U-hauls are being picked up this afternoon. After they are loaded tomorrow morning, the "Thursday Crew" will drive to Sierra Valley, while the rest will arrive Friday morning. As of now, we have 92 riders and about 185 volunteers committed to participate. As always, we are praying that this event will be more than a physical experience, but a deeply spiritual one as well. 


Alumni News


Anna Donovan (2008) lives in Scott’s Valley where she works at a group home for people with brain damage; she also works in San Jose as a teacher’s aide at an autism center. “It’s so wonderful to go to work every day with people who genuinely care for others. And it’s so awesome to be able to love on people all day,” she writes. Anna says maybe this is the year she’ll ride in the Agony!

Kimberly Baker (1987) recently celebrated four years living in Lesotho, a country of 2,000,000 people, landlocked by South Africa. She is part of the Mission Aviation Fellowship team there and is still thrilled with the ministry to the people in that remote area of the country.

Chris MacDonald (1988) is studying sociology at the University of Northern Colorado in Longmont.


2014 Scholarship Available


Christian Encounter Ministries is excited to announce scholarship awards available for the 2014-2015 school year. The scholarships are available to current CEM students and former CEM students who completed their time at the ranch in 2010 or after, and are currently in good standing with CEM. 


Alumni News


Robert Halbach (intern, 2013) married Emma Blackwelder at College Heights Christian Church in Joplin, Missouri, Saturday, April 5.  Rob is employed by Discovery Ministries in Eminence, MO.

Kelly Monck (student, 2005) recently completed the Aruna 5K Run in Chico to raise funds to help free girls and women in South Asia who are caught in sex trafficking.  Way to go Kelly!

Sean Thompson (student, 2010) is goal driven.  After graduation from Christian Encounter High School he lived at the Men’s House for a year, then moved to establish himself in work and church and to pursue a girl he met from a southern California Bible College. 

Matthew Kliewer (student, 2002) is currently enrolled in Reedley College with aspirations to pursue the counseling profession.

Tyler Richardson (student, 1997)  owns Richardson Bros. Construction in Manhattan, Montana.


Spring Celebration & Graduation


24 days until CEM's Spring Celebration and Graduation Ceremony. Over the last year, we've had 23 students, 22 interns, 8 residents at our transition houses, & 100+ volunteers. That is a lot of people to CELEBRATE! We also have 5 CEHS graduates this year! ... We'd love for you to join us Saturday, May 31st @ 2pm in Angel's Meadow for our Spring Celebration & Graduation Ceremony! Have questions? Call us @ 530-268-0877.


New CEM Staff


We couldn't be more excited to announce our 2 newest staff members! We began a search for a new Ranch Foreman over 5 months ago. On April 15th, RJ Liller took on the adventurous position. Already living in Grass Valley, RJ is an electrician with construction experience. Also added to the ranch are his wife, Kara; daughter, Kathryn (8); and son, Jace (5).

With Jim and Marion Parker entering into full retirement in August of this year, the ranch will be in need of someone to fill the gap that they currently fill. Over the next 4 months, former intern, Charlie Cazin, will transition with JP and Marion and, upon their full exit in August, will be our Donor Services & Church Relations Coordinator! Let's not forget that with Charlie also comes his wife Melissa; son, Jack (3); daughter, Chloe (1); and a 3rd child due to arrive in October!

We know that God has provided both RJ and Charlie to the ranch in His timing to complete His work and we are thrilled to see His hand at work in each of the lives' of the students, interns, staff, and staff family members! 


Easter Sunrise Service


You're invited to join the ranch family this Sunday at 6:30 am for our annual Easter sunrise service to celebrate Christ's resurrection! The service will be held in Angels' Meadow, so be sure to dress warm. Also, join us for a potluck breakfast immediately following the service. Questions? Call the ranch @ 530-268-0877.


Rescue Run 2014


CEM's very first 5k run/walk fundraiser was an incredible success! We had 75 people complete the course ranging in age from 1 1/2 to 73 years old! Many of our students and interns placed in the top of their age categories. It really was a wonderful time for everyone. Join us next year and 'run to rescue youth from ruin'!


3rd Quarter Honor Roll


Quarterly grades are in and we have 3 students to congratulate for making 3rd Quarter Honor Roll: Tori, Katie, and Shane. Congratulations to the 3 of you!


Spiritual Emphasis Week


So far, Spiritual Emphasis Week has been SO good! Yesterday started with Camille teaching on forgiveness and Charlie Welch of High Sierra Outdoor Institute teaching on the invisible God making Himself clearly seen through His Word and Creation. This morning, Student Shane and Intern Shannon shared personal testimonies followed by Dan Prout teaching on Prayer and Mike Petrillo teaching on marriage. WOW! So much truth has been spoken and we still have 2 more days to go!

Spiritual Emphasis Week


Between 3rd and 4th quarter each year, We take a week off from the school schedule to hold Spiritual Emphasis Week. This year is no different! Tuesday through Friday of next week will be packed full of student and intern testimonies and Bible studies, guest speakers, worship, a 6-hour prayer vigil and optional fasting. All this is happening with one goal in mind: that the love of our Heavenly Father, the resurrection power of Jesus, and the presence of the Holy Spirit will be known and experienced to a greater degree by each of our interns and students than ever before. 


Alumni News


Jeremy and Joanna (Colvin) Pincosy (interns, 2003) have moved to Cape Girardeau, MO, where Jeremy is the Director of Experiential Education and a high school teacher at Prodigy Leadership Academy, a Christian school for K- 12th grades.

Dustin Berlin (student, 2002) recently returned from a two-month outreach to Taiwan with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). He lives in Newport Beach, CA.

Maria Zandbergen (2006 CEHS grad) has served three and a half years in the U. S. Army, including nine months in Afghanistan. She is home in Hawaii, where she plans to take online college classes.

Travis and Stacy Yates (intern, 1997) and three of their children were in Uganda, Africa, for a short term missions trip in December. Their oldest daughter, Victoria, is in Russia for three months with YWAM.


Girls' Igloo Trip


Our annual Girl's Igloo Trip was a success! Our 6 female students and 5 female interns worked hard, building 3 igloos during their 3 nights in the snow. The theme was "one another" and our call to be focused less on ourselves and more on loving, serving, and caring for one another. Several potentially life-changing insights were shared during the weekend, please pray that these God-lessons will take root in each of their lives producing good fruit that reflects Christ's character.


Welcome Girls! 


We've had 2 female interns and 2 female students arrive in recent weeks and we are so glad that each of them are here! Interns Jessie and Megan join us from Indiana and Nevada County, California, while students Kylee and Katie are from Sacramento County, California, and Maryland.  We trust that God has brought all four of these young women here for His very specific purposes; please pray that their time here will fulfill His plans.


Executive Director Announces Resignation


In today’s CEM staff meeting, Mike Petrillo discussed his future transition from his post as Executive Director of Christian Encounter Ministries. In a letter to the Board, Mike requested January 31, 2015 as the target date for resignation due to health related issues. The Board of Directors of CEM will conduct the process of transition over the next fourteen months. This period of time is intended to allow the Board to develop a transition team consisting of the Executive staff of CEM, an advisory council, and members of the Board. At the next Board of Directors meeting details of the search process will be announced.

Mike shared the following: “Serving at CEM for 35 years is a greater honor than I could have imagined. God’s grace has been sufficient and abundant each and every day. In next month’s newsletter I will express more fully my gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the Lord’s work at CEM. During the next fourteen months, I will be working closely with the Board and the staff in the transition process. My deepest prayer is that Jesus our shepherd will guide and direct the ministry in each step of the way. Please join us in that prayer. I know the Lord has the ministry in His hands and I look forward to what He will continue to do.”