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!
Did you know there are creative ways you can support Christian Encounter Ranch that will benefit you, your loved ones and the ministry?
Contact us to hear more about Planned Giving and how you can make a lasting legacy in the lives of our students and interns.
Around the world, Covid-19 is highlighting fragility and need in society, and not just with medical and economic systems. Social disruption, family chaos, and emotional fallout are evident too, and underneath all lies a gaping spiritual need. For 50 years, Christian Encounter Ranch has been devoted to addressing these very issues. You can help us do this by signing up for the Agony Ride today.
Despite the unknowns of the coming months, we will still be hosting the 38th annual Agony Ride at the end of July. We plan to ride in the Sierra Valley as usual. If gatherings that size are prohibited, we have contingency plans, such as subdividing into smaller groups. Even if tight restrictions are in place, you can still participate: our team of tech volunteers is creating a whole set of fantastic new tools that allow a virtual option. On July 24-25, you can ride wherever you are, anywhere in the world.
Due to quarantining, this year we're more aware of our hunger for caring and authentic community than normal. The camaraderie of the Agony and the demonstration of Christ's sacrificial love that takes place in that valley cannot be replaced. If our gathering is limited, there will be loss.
But the virtual option will result in new joys and opportunities. It allows people unable to travel to participate--maybe for the first time. It creates new opportunities to recruit friends in other locations. It gives people with tight work schedules the ability to ride too. The Agony will still happen, life-saving money will still be raised, and you can be part of it.
The purpose for the ride stays exactly the same: overcoming the cycles of brokenness, one story at a time. If anything, the lapse in societal structure makes the Ranch program for struggling youth more strategic and necessary than ever, and the economic downturn puts our scholarship fund squarely in the spotlight. We are so grateful for our Agony riders, who allow us to give scholarships to 100% of the young people who come to us for healing and a fresh start.
Sign up today to be part of a worthy cause: saving lives and giving hope. In the meantime, build your immune system and strengthen your lungs by going on a bicycle ride today!
For more details, check out the FAQs on AgonyRide.org. We will keep you posted as restrictions change and plans in line with state and local guidance develop.
Your partner in this good work,