Interns have the opportunity to live with, struggle with, disciple and serve young people hurting from various traumas.
Kallie Crawford, 2015-2016 Age: 23 Hometown: Round Rock, TX Future plans: Youth ministry, Bible college
How has your internship impacted you personally? I have grown tremendously as a person. I’ve stepped into leadership roles that I never thought I would step into, and I feel more confident in who I am. This internship has taught me how much God loves me and has compassion on me, so I can have that on myself. I’ve had a lot of healing here; I should have been a student here when I was 16. It’s been really beneficial to be able to relate in that way. It’s been a blessing that God can use our mess for his message.
How have your giftings/calling been affirmed here? I love the discipleship part [of the ministry]. I love meeting with the girls I am discipling and pouring into them and seeing a lightbulb go off in their brain. I really like teaching. That’s what I found out here. I love seeing people grow more intimate with Christ. I stepped into a leadership role of authority that has been completely uncomfortable my entire life until this internship. Because God has qualified me, I’ve been able to step into a role of authority and to say “no” to people when it’s hard.
Is there a particular story or internship experience you would like to share? I was a new intern living with this student who was giving me a lot of backlash. Over and over again I would open the door to her wanting to get to know her, wanting to show her that I care. I would really focus on what’s going on inside of her and show her that this is why she’s so angry. It was a lot of showing her grace and love over and over again. Eventually one night, she had had a bad day and I went and checked on her and she started crying and said, “Kallie, I’m so mean to you. All I do is try to put you down and make you feel awful, and you just love me – like you won’t stop.” After that moment, our relationship healed.
Emily Hammer, 2016 "I love how God is refining me and growing me in areas I never expected to be stretched in. A lot of times, I focus on solely working from my strengths. God has just amazed me in how he’s molding me and teaching me to be a more 'well-rounded' follower of Him, pushing me to work and grow in my weakness."
Timothy Metzger, 2014-2016 "My internship taught me to rely more than ever on God. The one thing that sustained me and gave me effectiveness throughout my two years more than anything else was the power of God. This is not just a 'Sunday school answer,' but the simple reality that I have experienced. I know that God has not just the capability, but the desire to heal and rejuvenate me, but that he wants even more to have a relationship with me. This results in a paradox. When I am exhausted and stressed, the thing I need most is not rest, but to reach out consciously to God."
Megan Eden, 2013-2015 "I love how CEM spurs the interns on to build relationships. I truly believe that is a key part in the 'training leaders' aspect of this ministry. Building relationships not only with the students, but also with the staff and spiritual partners. When I started I didn’t understand why we didn’t get a folder outlining who the students were and why they were here...I am convinced the goodness of life happens with relationships at the core. That is where you can spur each other on, call out the goodness and things that need correction. Deepness is in relationships and that is where God lives!"
Kaitlin Dinkelacker, 2014-2015 "My time at Christian Encounter Ministries has been more challenging, stretching and rewarding than I could have hoped for...I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness, faithfulness, forgiveness, discipline, and love that I have experienced and seen this year. The Ranch has opened my eyes to what truly matters in this life: love. The most rewarding experiences I have had at the Ranch have been the relationships I have had with both of the girls I have discipled."
Robert Halbach, 2013 “Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this ministry, for the opportunity to learn and grow under the guidance of the staff and the challenge of the students. This internship is good, practical application/apprenticeship for accomplishing Matthew 25. I hope when I stand before God and ask, ‘When did I ever see you hungry or thirsty; a stranger or naked; sick or in prison,’ that He will respond, ‘Remember Josiah and Shane? Kareem and Alyson? Tori and Lovella?’ Thank you for the opportunity to begin learning how to care for His sheep…Hopefully having seen some of the sheep here, it will be easier to find them out in the wilds of the world.”
Jonathan Mangano, 2013 “A strength I see in this ministry is the sense of community. We are called to live in community. When students live with the same interns for months at a time, the process teaches them really healthy relationships. The love of God allows us to love the students, and that love cannot be denied. The sense of community is strengthened by Church being held at the Ranch and having people from the community come in and just absolutely love them…This community builds relationships that teach students what a dad looks like and how a mom is supposed to care for her child. These relationships are supposed to teach them what it means to have a brother in Christ and what it looks like when a boss is telling you what to do. The relationships the students have with the interns are so special…”
Zoya Lee, 2010-2012 "I came into the internship certain that it would be an invaluable training ground for future ministry. But it proved to be so much more. I have gained more family than I could have ever imagined and feel better equipped to have my own. Jesus has given me new joy and freedom to walk in the abundant life He has for me and in so doing liberating others to do the same."
Melanie Beattie, 2009-2011 "God has shown me that the Ranch is not the end for these students—it’s often just a beginning. My success must be based in how much I have been obedient to the Lord, and if I have been faithful in the works he prepared ahead for me to do. My job is simply to plant and water seeds; only God can bring growth."
Kayla Babson, 2010-2011 "I have been able to have countless conversations with students with tears running down their cheeks as they start to see that Jesus wants to be a part of their lives and love them just the way He made them. I have never in my entire life been in a place where the Lord’s hand was so obviously present. I am so forever grateful for the opportunity I had to build lasting friendships with these students who are so precious to me. "
Austin Reed, 2011 "I would describe my internship at the Ranch to be a lot like a boulder being thrown into a quiet pond. Before, things were comfortable, still, and stagnant. Now, that unhealthy peace has been interrupted by a great splash, and the ripples of that splash extend across the entirety of the water, creating waves which lap up upon the beach. That which is still is now moving, that which was comfortable is now crushed, stretched, and growth has begun...I believe that the half of this ministry which seeks to train leaders has planted valuable seeds of experience within my heart which, with God’s help, will take root and grow into an even more beautiful flower...I praise God that He was merciful enough to put me into a place where I wouldn't be comfortable, and I would suffer in such a way that would refine me. "
Nikki Romero, 2009-2011 "There were parts of me that felt unfit to be an intern. I knew that a lot of interns had graduated college and I hadn't. I asked myself if I was smart enough, or strong enough, or spiritual enough. I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't about me or my abilities, but that it was about God and His abilities. ...Being an intern is a hard job, and very challenging, but I always felt support from the CEM staff also. They really encouraged me to be who I am in my internship. I never felt alone or "thrown to the wolves." I felt like it was okay to make mistakes. I never felt pressured to be something I wasn't or to have to be an expert in an area that I wasn't, but I was still challenged to step out and do the things I wasn't comfortable doing. The staff always pointed everything back to Christ and reminded me that my motive should always be love." Trent Thacker, 2008-2010 "A two-year internship at the Ranch is not like two years elsewhere. It is like five monumental years elsewhere. My college years were a time of great spiritual growth, yet I have grown more spiritually in the last two years than I did through all my college years. I have learned when I sacrifice, even a little, I see my heart conforming to the image of Christ. God’s way is better, I really do feel more blessed when I give than when I receive; being a peace maker is more satisfying than getting revenge, it feels better to serve than being served. Every time I obey I find that God satisfies and fulfills the longings of my heart and I get to experience the “abundant life.”...This is an amazing ministry. I have grown tremendously during my internship and feel equipped for the future to be a good father, husband, friend and servant."
Mike Kotlarski, 2010 "Christian Encounter Ranch stands as a gateway—a place for an encounter—for those broken, sick, hopeless, bereaved, shattered, abused, forgotten, unloved, neglected, underappreciated, unapproachable, poor, lost and sinful... who are willing to come and find a new life fully illuminated by God’s grace and love, having transformed their lives.
Removing pond scum carries with it a foul stench and disgusting sludge. Removing brush and branches from around uphill cabins is a difficult and slow operation. If these jobs themselves were not hard enough, the disposition of the students expressing immaturity, uncooperativeness and frustrated attitudes, heaped extra trouble on the situation. The entire group had to be addressed at least once. I have learned, at a very personal level, what situations like these require when you are in charge. These lessons scare and compel me to trust all the more upon the Lord, the only sure and true authority. As God has extended grace towards me, I know I need to extend grace and forgiveness to others.
Christian Encounter has a fine balance of unique individuals working nicely in an integrated whole. I’ve felt appreciated, honored, respected and needed in this ministry and in my role as an intern....Returning to college with many unknowns, I can fully trust that God will direct my way and supply me with all I need to finish well."
Alena Egense, 2009-2010 "This whole Ranch runs on God’s strength; the idea of the Ranch is crazy without Him. We are all inadequate and yet, God uses all of us...My natural tendency is to avoid conflict and to care for someone by giving them what they want. However, sometimes the best thing to do for someone is to say ‘no.’...The Lord used my break times to teach me how to really rest. With a limited amount of free time, as compared to college life, my personal time became sacred and I learned how to use it wisely....My time at the Ranch has been life changing. I became a part of the Ranch family that I intend to stay close to my whole life. The skills I learned here about interacting with people, in some ways, parenting skills, are ones I will take with me wherever God takes me."
Nathaniel Boyd, 2010 "I view the leaders at the Ranch as humble, determined, and strong. Humility and strength together are powerful; they enable leadership without aggression and ambition. This kind of leadership earns respect instead of demanding it, and is easy to follow. I feel called to leadership of some sort and it was very beneficial for me to have leaders who model these traits. I have learned from their example and have been encouraged in my calling."
Brittany Rosene, 2010 “Having a loving, supportive intern team was a key component of making my intern experience a good one. My time at CEM was a challenging journey, but was also very rewarding...I will always be grateful for my time at CEM, the life-lessons learned and the friendships I made. The Ranch will always have a very special place in my heart.”
Connor Knapp, 2009 "The first night of my internship I heard loud swearing and things crashing, and saw a young woman bolt out of the lodge. This was my introduction to life challenges at CEM. Being an intern has been the hardest, best thing I have ever done in my life. I have grown more during the past two years than any other time period. I have seen and experienced peace, malcontent, joy, sorrow, love, hate, and the face of Jesus in every single person.
Life at CEM is like frozen juice concentrate. Something hard and intense that becomes sweet and wonderful. My time of service and learning at CEM has changed me forever and I hope to continue allowing God to have full charge of my life."
Tiffany Geiger, 2008 “It has been a great experience being a part of a Godly team of interns. I have gained some wonderful life-friends. I was able to see the body of Christ at work; we were all so different from each other, but were able to work together to conquer issues and situations. There is a “special bond” that is hard to find in many places. I also feel more prepared for parenting, though I hope to never have ten or more teenagers at once, ever again!”
Clint Leigh, 2007 “I have been impressed with the significance of prayer and the focus on Jesus Christ that the leadership expresses on a regular basis, and how deliberate an effort is made to pass that on to the interns and students. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” This is a truth that comes to mind when I try to define what’s happening at CEM.
There is something about letting other people invade your personal life that really helps unearth someone’s personality. I know myself better as a result of this internship and would credit it to living in community. I felt right at home living at the Ranch because it’s peaceful and away from the chaos of city life. When people come to live in this type of environment, it has a way of bringing things to the surface that would otherwise stay easily hidden in the noise and busyness of the daily grind. “
Merodie Bend (Leigh), 2007 “A former intern once told me, “I have never felt so close to the sufferings of Christ as during my time at the Ranch.” This rings very true to my experience here and has been something I have clung to in my harder months. It seems that when we choose to gird up and battle in prayer against the horrific attack on the lives of these students and stand up against the appalling choices that have led them into captivity, we taste a small portion of the sin that Christ willingly carried to Calvary. The Ranch will never be replaced in my heart; I can see this experience is second only to my salvation experience when considering the change it produced in me.”
Kristen Heiner, 2006 "I would say that the most rewarding experience during my internship was the relationships that I developed...Even though I came into this internship wanting to share God's love and serve, I was also a recipient of God's love because other people from the Ranch family served me. I think that's just God's crazy way of working within the body of Christ. The more that you serve, obey, love and give the more you will be blessed... In my opinion, the CEM ministry to troubled students is on the front lines of a battle. Even though living in community is hard, CEM is providing students with everything they need to have their emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental needs met. I feel that CEM accepts both students and interns where they are but they love them enough to not leave them where they are."
Autumn Webster, 2004 “This internship has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have learned so much about myself, about other people, and about relationships. I love this ministry. I love the way you can feel and see the Holy Spirit moving and working in every aspect of the ministry. I loved seeing body ministry in action. I love the way it is set up in order to keep individuals accountable.”
Jessica Matthies, 2002 The CEM internship has often been described as being ‘squeezed through a knothole’. I think that the “knothole” is shaped like the word “Love”. I believe that all the lessons that I have learned while being here all essentially stem from learning more and more how to love. This internship has been one of the most influential experiences in my life in teaching me this lesson. Going through the ‘knothole’ has been incredibly difficult at times, joyful at others, rewarding always.”
Gena Chavez (Lyerly), 2001 “All the “fights,” tears, laughter, friends, and family made here [at CEM] have filled my soul with a glimpse of how joyful eternity will be....I will always belong in this family of Christians. God has led me here and is blessing me everyday. I have witnessed people giving their lives to the Lord. I have made friends and had the opportunity to find healing in my personal life."
Ryan Koch, 2000 “I am trusting God to convict people. That is so much more effective than me “busting” them. If a student turns because of God working on his heart, that is a pattern that will serve him long after he has forgotten me and the consequences I issued.”
Robbin Merriam (Adams), 1981 “I was told an internship at Christian Encounter Ranch would be an experience I’d find very demanding, challenging, trying, and mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually taxing, as well as a host of other not so pleasant sounding descriptions. They were right. Yet, on the other hand, I was told an internship at Christian Encounter Ranch would be an experience I’d find very rewarding, fulfilling, inspiring and worthwhile, and one which I’d find hard to explain to someone else. They were very right. My internship has helped me to know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to commit myself to following Him forever. In turn, I have learned what is entailed in discipling others. I’ve realized the importance and need of being constantly aware of my own conduct, words, and actions as I am being watched by others just as I look to Jesus. My life IS my discipleship of the Lord; therefore, I need to continually examine myself to see what my life is teaching."
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