As we approach the end of 2022, I’d like to recount again some of the incredible things God has done on our behalf. As I reflect on the year, many big projects and tangible achievements come to mind, but the deepest victories happened in hearts and minds and are hard to include on a list like this. These are the moments when a hurting heart decides to receive the love being offered, when a life-dominating lie is finally exposed to the truth and banished, and when someone chooses to forgive an old transgression. As you read this list, celebrate with me both the items included below and the long list of invisible decisions that are at the heart of it all!
We started the year off right with a beautiful wedding on January 1, celebrating staff member Salena Berger’s marriage to Josh Unitt. Two weeks later the intern team grew to ten members, making for a large and talented team willing to invest daily in the lives of the students. A few days later we celebrated a student graduating from high school and presented him with his diploma.
We closed the purchase of a local house that was sold to the Ranch at a discounted price (pictured below). It has met a critical need for staff housing this year and will soon become the Girls’ House for students finishing the program at the Ranch. Speaking of the girls, 15 young women braved unusually cold and icy weather on the annual igloo trip. Due to a tremendous team effort, they built three igloos despite difficult building conditions.
The Ranch Family celebrated a baptism and enjoyed a day of cross-country skiing together. Reports vary about which was colder! Then, during the break between school quarters, we set academic pursuits aside to dedicate a week to a series of sessions on the theme “Deeper,” pursuing closer relationship with the Lord as individuals and as a church family.
A local church group blessed the Ranch Family by preparing an Easter gift basket for each of our students. The weather was perfect for our annual Rescue Run, and it was a great joy to invite guests on property for a beautiful trail run and to experience the Ranch community.
May brought an increase in opportunities to communicate about the Ranch which continued through the summer, including invitations to churches, community events, and radio stations such as K-Love, Air1, KFBK, and KNCO. Meanwhile, generous community members continued to invest in building out the Angels’ Meadow venue, including installing a shed and refrigeration at the outdoor kitchen…
Two days before the 40th Agony Ride, baby Hosanna, born to Jensen and Elizabeth Near, joined the Ranch family. Jensen then raced from the hospital to the Sierra Valley to ride in the Agony, which set all-time records for number of riders (113) and number of dollars given directly to the student scholarship fund ($377K pledged).
A week after we heard our insurance provider was dropping our coverage along with all other properties in high fire-risk zones, our utility company agreed to remove 288 hazardous trees on property for free. Soon after, a generous donor gave tuition sponsorship funds to cover a student’s expenses for the entire year. The Lord provides in many different ways.
After being unable to facilitate the Wilderness Trip in 2021 due to forest closures for fire reasons, we enjoyed a successful return to the mountains. Two groups of participants experienced rock-climbing, swimming in alpine lakes, and hiking through beautiful forests. These 15 days created a profound spiritual impact and catalyzed much growth.
For decades students have created beautiful and expressive works of art at the Ranch, and many have discovered the Lord has brought healing to them through this. To encourage this, we installed an Art Studio (pictured above right), which will double as a meeting room for discipleship sessions. Then, in some of the biggest news of the year, we received permission from the County to add another housing unit to the Ranch as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). Our Use Permit had not allowed us to add a new house since 1989. This is an answer to prayer and will meet a need we’ve had for many years.
Additionally, numerous volunteers helped with the ongoing duplex remodel job, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. Due to donated materials and labor, the duplex is projected to meet its budget, which was set in mid-2020 before inflation ramped up!
In a tough housing market, the Lord showed He is not constrained by circumstances. Between the upcoming ADU, the two sides of the duplex, and the house purchase in February, we anticipate adding a total of four housing units in a little over a year, all of which meet critical ministry needs. We have much to celebrate!
But even if none of these things had happened, that would not change the fact that we have a good God who is doing good works in young lives at the Ranch. Seasons come and go, and circumstances change, but God is good yesterday, today, and forever. And for this, we are most grateful of all.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director