God has given each of us gifts and calls each of us to use them. Some of us will receive the call to go overseas or into unusual circumstances, but the starting point for each of us is: serve God where you are and with what you have. Last year, after Russia invaded Ukraine, I wished I could go help with the relief efforts. I knew that wasn’t what God was calling me to do, though: my assignment was to focus primarily on His work at Christian Encounter.
A couple of years ago, seeking to serve God with everything He had given us, we asked Him if there were additional ways we could use Ranch resources. The Angels’ Meadow facility had 12 cabins with five beds each, a campfire ring, an outdoor amphitheater and stage, a fishing pond, and a few other amenities. It’s a beautiful spot, and it sat unused most of the year. Perhaps the Lord had additional purposes for it. Some volunteers built an outdoor kitchen to complete the facilities and we opened it to guest groups. As a church, we decided to make it totally free; we never want money to be an obstacle to ministry with any of our programs. Groups could donate if they were able. It felt a little adventurous and risky. We didn’t know what would happen.
The first group was a men’s retreat. The pastor had prepared a theme and messages and expected ten men would come. When they heard the only cost was the food they would bring, twenty came.
We never want money to be an obstacle to ministry with any of our programs..
How encouraging! The ministry doubled when money wasn’t an issue. It confirmed our plan.
God has continued to use the Meadow since. This summer we had college groups, a men’s retreat, a wedding, a baptism service, family camps, a Child Evangelism Fellowship camp of 100 youth (many of whom responded to a Gospel invitation), and … four camps for refugees from Ukraine and Russia. Three were family camps and one was a week-long camp for refugee children put on by a Russian church in Sacramento. Families traveled to Sacramento from as far as Texas so their children could participate, and there were 300 kids on the waitlist. Most who came had never heard the Gospel before.
We have received as freely as we’ve given. Groups have donated picnic tables, a shed for supplies, labor help, food, money, and more. Giving is God’s design, and it is good.
I never would have guessed that serving God where we are with what we have would mean refugees from the war in Ukraine would be finding respite, peace, and the Gospel–all only a hundred yards from my home. God may use us in different ways than we expect, but the gifts He’s given us fit into His plans in ways more beautiful than we could design on our own.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director