Thinking about riding this year? Join experienced staff riders for a morning ride on the American River Trail in Sacramento. All experience levels are welcome. Meet at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery at 9:30am.
Come and bring a friend!
Agony Kickoff Training Ride | Saturday, May 4th, 9:30am, American River Trail (meet at Nimbus Fish Hatchery)
Spring Serve Day | Saturday, May 18th, 9am - 1pm
Year-end Celebration & Graduation | Saturday, June 1st, 10:30am
Family Camp | Friday, June 28th - Monday, July 1st
42nd Annual Agony Ride | July 26th - 27th
When Zaeda was twelve, her after school routine started with making sure her little sisters were fed and taken care of. Her half-sisters were two and four. Then she would mop the floor, fold the laundry, and consider the homework she had for the evening. Mom had to work late. She would fix a simple dinner, tackle the dishes and get the girls ready for bed.
Zaeda had just recently transferred to the public school system and was once more facing the daunting task of finding her place in a new school. She had moved schools frequently as a child, having to make new friends every year, never sticking around long enough to put down roots.
By the eighth grade, Zaeda mostly kept to herself, keeping others at a distance. Her anxiety was mounting from continued instability in the home, and worsened when COVID disrupted the school year. Zaeda needed an escape and began turning heavily to substances.
Soon her dad realized what was happening and sent her to New Orleans to live with her aunt for the summer, hoping the change in scenery would do some good. When Zaeda returned to California a few months later, incidents at home forced her back and forth between her dad’s and stepdad’s houses until it was determined more serious intervention was necessary.
Zaeda’s mom filled out an application for Christian Encounter, and Zaeda interviewed on a Monday and came that Friday. “When I got here, I was so hardened and cold. I refused to read the Bible. I struggled with authority and wanted to be defiant to anything that was asked of me.”
For several years now, I’ve put together a recap of the past year for this December newsletter. It’s a fun way to share with you some of what has been accomplished. It isn’t just for outward communication, though. I’ve realized this recap has been an important exercise for me. Jesus says in Matthew 5, “Every day has enough trouble of its own.” Many days I feel stuck in this trouble, and it’s hard to move my eyes up beyond the difficulties of each day. It’s too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of what God is doing. After 365 days of “enough trouble,” it nurtures my faith to step back and observe.
God doesn’t remove all trouble, but He does redeem it and work through and despite it. Writing this recap each year has pressed deeper into my heart the constancy of God’s help and work on behalf of this ministry. It helps train my mind and heart to remember and have hope even when I’m slogging through troubles.
We started the year off by taking the young men into the mountains to build igloos. This annual trip is a staple of the Ranch calendar because it never fails to make an impact, both on individuals and on the group as a whole.
A few weeks later, the girls went on their trip. Speaking of impact, after a long conversation under the snow-covered pines, an intern walked with a student through the process of deciding to place her faith in Jesus. Her new joy was palpable as she told each person back at the Ranch over the coming days. Then in February the staff duplex rebuild was completed, and we gathered to dedicate the new homes with prayer and celebrate the impact on the ministry (right). Next we launched the long-awaited Girls’ House, which is a next-step ministry for our former residents focused on discipleship and growth.
A group of students from Patrick Henry College in Virginia visited to do service projects and invest in the students. This group was led by the president of the college, who found time to encourage and build up the Ranch staff and leadership too. Then, during spring break between school quarters, we set academic pursuits aside to dedicate a week to a series of sessions on these words of Jesus: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” We also began remodeling the admin office, improving efficiency, storage, and layout. We capped off the month by celebrating together as a young lady was baptized.
The month began on a bittersweet note as we said goodbye to two interns who had completed the maximum two years, Faith and Aldin. Soon after, the whole Ranch family took time to have fun together and went bowling. This was followed by another baptism and more rejoicing.
Guest groups started arriving to use the campground facilities in the Angels’ Meadow Venue, which we offer at no charge. Another key infrastructure project was knocked off the list as the second asphalt project was completed. Once again, a couple of donors stepped up to shoulder the burden and give a profound gift to the Ranch. It is a joy both to give and to receive!
At our graduation celebration four high-school grads–Levi, James, Brooke, and Katelyn–received their diplomas and gave speeches expressing gratitude for the dedication of the school staff, the support of the community, and the transforming work of the Lord. In a fitting conclusion to the weekend, after church the next day we celebrated another baptism.
Our annual Family Camp was another great time of fellowship, fun, and families ministering to each other. Campers got to observe one of our young men who had completed over a year in the program get “prayed out” during church on Sunday. A couple of weeks later the new residence (ADU) was delivered for set up. At the end of the month we hosted the 41st Agony Ride. As always, it was an intense and impactful weekend of selfless service and sacrificing together. The all-time fundraising record was broken yet again, as our community of supporters gave so generously to the ministry of the Ranch. It was a special treat to have 20 former interns ride this year!