When we think about the 50th Anniversary Celebration, we think of hundreds of people gathered from many states. We think of embracing those we haven’t seen in years, of worshipping our God as one giant Ranch family. We think of lingering over the meal table and lots of Ultimate Frisbee on our newly seeded athletic field.
As you can see, our vision is entirely incompatible with a pandemic.
For a while, trends were pointing in a good direction, and we were cautiously optimistic. But as case counts have climbed and restrictions have tightened again, we’ve decided now is the time to reschedule, before any more flights are booked or plans are made.
The Ranch was founded in September of 1970, so we’re postponing this celebration from the beginning of our 50th year to the end of it. The new dates are September 24-26, 2021. Please help us get the word out.
We continue to rejoice in all that God is doing in the young lives at CER and that His work is not crippled or thwarted in the slightest degree by a worldwide contagion.
There will be much to celebrate next fall. In the meantime, let’s keep running the race together.
Savannah’s family moved when she was about to enter high school, giving her a fresh start. She got involved in a myriad of extracurriculars and was grateful for teachers who were personally invested in her. Savannah attended every football game she could, almost never missed a school dance, and went all out for spirit week.
Though she dove head first into her new school, the depression she experienced as a child had lingered all these years and was only worsening with each poor decision that was made. Savannah moved through a string of relationships, resulting in more pain and confusion, which eventually led her parents to pull her out of school while they searched for a safer alternative.
When Savannah’s parents dropped her off at Christian Encounter, Savannah read their actions as rejection. “I thought I couldn’t be cared about." Savannah’s arrival coincided with Family Camp, which couldn’t have been better timing. Savannah was immediately received into a new, more extensive family unit than her own. The wealth of connection pulled her in and began to fill her heart.
A couple of months later, Savannah was on the side of a rock face, more than halfway through the 15-day backpacking trip in Tahoe National Forest. Tears streaming down her face, Savannah’s cries echoed through the trees as she beat her fists against the rock. Staff member Caryn Galeckas lowered herself down over the ledge to join Savannah. “Why is this such a big deal for you? Why do you feel like you need to come up this? What happens if you don’t?” Moments later another staff member appeared above her. They proceeded to share the gospel of grace with Savannah, awakening truth she had heard many times before. It was half an hour before Savannah would proceed up the ledge, propelled by a new reality. Once on solid ground, she fell into the embrace of her teammates.
Moving forward from that day, Savannah began to see differently. As she wrote her reflection paper on the 15-day trip, she recognized the rejection she had perceived from her family wasn’t rejection at all. She realized that love was not something to be earned or won, that her personal worth was separate from the challenges she faced in life. “I have tried to replace my family in the past, but I don’t need to do that anymore. I care for my family more than anything…”
As Savannah began learning how to walk out these truths, her desire to be baptized resurfaced and seemed like a logical next step. Surrounded by her family and friends, Savannah made a public profession of faith this past winter.
When prompted for personally significant scriptures, Savannah recites Proverbs 27:5 among a few: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Savannah now recognizes the courage it took for family members and church members to confront her when they did. The consequences could have been irreversible had they waited much longer.
“When I came to the Ranch I made a goal to experience and understand the true meaning of God’s love before I finished my stay...The community and fellowship at the Ranch is so welcoming and accepting that I was able to experience a love that I had never comprehended: agape, an unconditional enduring love. 1 John 4:12 states, ‘No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.’ His disciples at the Ranch took me in with arms wide open and loved me even when I made it painfully obvious I was not perfect...The Ranch has become many things to me: a family, a home, an enduring sense of hope, and most of all a titanium reminder that God’s love will never fail and never end.”
This content is featured in our June newsletter.
When Christian Encounter Ranch was only an idea, the desire was to create a place that was quarantined. Or, to use a friendlier word, a refuge. The founders saw young people drowning in a culture of rebellion and casual destruction of self, and felt an urgent calling to offer a place of safety.
They picked this physical location to establish the Ranch because it was removed from society. The dirt road leading to the Ranch was so bad that during heavy rains it was all but impassable. Separation and distance were key requirements, because the Ranch was to be an escape from many forms of danger.
Young people could get away from drug dealers, from abusers, and also from the countless distractions life brings. Today, this list has grown to include social media and addictive online worlds.
The purpose of a medical quarantine is to keep a deadly contagion from spreading. The results include physically healthier people, but at the cost of community. The Ranch quarantine also results in healthier people, but instead by means of community. The redemptive power of the community is strengthened because the contagions removed by the Ranch quarantine are also things that sicken communities.
Neuroscientists have been learning recently that brains are hardwired -- designed-- for love. Specifically, to express and to receive love in community. When community love is disrupted, the results are neurotoxicity and anxiety. This is not a surprise. As God said at the beginning, "It is not good for man to be alone."
At the end of the day, the Ranch is very simply. a community of love. Our mission is "Overcoming the cycles of brokenness, one story at a time." This happens through the immense power of a community of love. A team that includes counselors, pastors, teachers, and interns anchors the community in the love of Christ, creating an environment that can nurture growth and healing for a time, with the goal of sending out stronger young people more immune from the invisible contagions of the world.
While medical quarantines today have caused many people to feel alone and hopeless, the Lord's love is undiminished and unchanged. May He remind you of His great love for you, and may you pass that along to others.
- Nate Boyd, Executive Director
We've been enjoying a series on Ranch heroes via our Facebook page throughout May.
5/29 This week's hero: Suzanne Hartley and Robbin Adams, high school staff
As the school year comes to a close, we want to recognize our outstanding school staff who have worked tirelessly to create and teach specialized curriculum catered to the needs of our students. The love and attentiveness these two are able to pour in day in and day out with a low student-teacher ratio is what transforms the classroom experience for our students, enabling many to experience academic success, often for the first time.
5/15 This week's hero: Olivia Crissman, residential volunteer & Liberty University online student
Though Olivia had come on as a residential volunteer primarily in the Food Service department, she ended up getting a lot more than she had bargained for. When our previous Food Service Manager stepped down, Olivia willingly stepped in, ensuring that food was procured and menus planned. Thanks, Olivia, for your cheerful service!
5/8 This week's hero: Chris Bierwagen
Last year after Zard Excavating came out and leveled our athletic field, we hit a number of setbacks in proceeding with this project. Once we received the all clear, Chris, retired 4th gen commercial farmer, was at the ready to see the project through. Chris has come out with his equipment multiple times this week to cultivate and seed the field. Now we wait and watch the grass grow!
5/1 This week's hero: Adrian Cummings
In response to his pastor's exhortation (Crossroads Church) to serve the local community this week, Adrian took a couple of days off work to come and do some specialized maintenance work on our property (at a safe distance). Adrian has also ridden in the Agony Ride four times!