Luke Brouwer finished his internship last month, but living locally he continues to devote his days to the students twice a week. Below Luke shares excerpts from his daily journal log kept during his internship.
Journal - Day 144, Saturday: I am sure glad that we serve an infinite God, because I am so bad at encouraging and comforting, but He keeps strengthening me and empowering me to keep plugging away.
Journal - Day 161, Tuesday: One of the students ran out and I went after her, and she asked me why I even tried anymore, because this was like the eighth time I tried to cheer her up when she was hurting, and obviously “she was a hopeless case”. And I said it was because I believe that everyone needs someone who will never give up on them.
Journal - Day 200, Saturday: Well here we are. 200 days of not quitting. 200 days of never giving up. 150 days past the point where I thought it humanly impossible to continue. Also, God gave me the privilege of being the vessel that was used so He could work magic in a student’s life. I was just there, and got to see Him work.
Enthusiasm was high and money started pouring in. But in the end, we were a measly twenty dollars short. The temptation to ignore the tiny shortfall was enormous. But the deal was off! The property owner couldn’t comprehend such picayune business dealings. Yet the wisdom of following God’s leading soon became evident: within the year the septic system failed and the state required a million dollar replacement! Worse, California entered a period of drought and the snow failed to fall. Nearby ski resorts lost millions of dollars, and the demand for winter retreats ceased. Christian Encounter was saved from financial ruin! Praise God!
Marion Parker, Former Staff
There is a truth in the world that changes everything. It changes our motivations, our desires. It changes our very nature: the core of who we are. The gospel changes everything. Without it, I would have no purpose in life - no hope. Without it, our students would have no hope. But because of Jesus, the gospel is real. And it is alive.
The gospel is this: God redeems souls. Life overcomes death, and it lasts forever. But the gospel is not merely a new destination for souls--God’s redemption is so much bigger. For those who follow God, it is all-encompassing (Rom. 8:28). It includes the wounds we’ve caused and the wounds we’ve received. It includes the worst things we’ve ever done. It includes the lingering consequences from sins committed long ago. God’s redemption covers all of these. Amazingly, God’s redemption is so big it also includes the tiniest things, like the mistakes I make today that may cause me to give a sigh of regret as I lie in bed tonight.
These are not easy things to believe. But they are true. They’re true, because Jesus Christ paid the full, complete price. It covers everything! Therefore, every single one of us can be a living story of God’s ongoing work of redemption, no matter what has happened in our lives.
God’s redemption is also the theme of the Ranch. Since the very beginning, redemption testimonies have been formed here, one life at a time. The other day an early Ranch staff member told me of two young women who had been sexually traumatized. When they arrived at the Ranch, they heard the staff speaking of the freedom Christ gives, and of being washed clean. They believed God had indeed redeemed them, and they proceeded to live and speak as perfectly restored, new creations. From those earliest days through this moment, God continues to
The Ranch as an institution is a concrete testament to God’s redemption. As we celebrate our 50th year of existence, we are grateful for all He has done and that His work of redemption continues. Whatever the next 50 years hold, the Ranch is dedicated to displaying the power of the gospel every day of its existence.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
Just a couple of months into my internship, one of our students chose to leave the program voluntarily. After his departure I struggled for months with grief and sorrow, a pain I was unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. I began to withdraw and struggled to engage fully in relationships with the students and others at the Ranch. I didn’t know what God expected of me and was unsure if I wanted to continue my internship past three months.
After much wrestling, I decided to recommit for three more months until graduation. In those three months I saw God move in amazing ways in my heart, life, and the lives of the students. He began to show me that my pain had a purpose. I experienced God’s patience and heart towards me. He didn’t expect me to fix myself, He wasn’t in a hurry, and He loved me in my sorrow as much as He did in my joy.
As I continued to reflect on this difficult time of internship, God brought me to the question “If you knew the outcome, would you have done anything differently?” After thinking on this, I realized that if I had known God was calling me to be obedient to show love to someone who would be so temporary I would have held back a lot. I would have loved differently knowing the pain it would bring after the loss. In realizing this I was led to a powerful truth of who Jesus is and the choice He made in loving us.
Olivia Crissman, one-year intern