(L to R) Back row: Zach Garrett, 23, Suffield, CT; Luke Brouwer, 23, Nevada City, CA; Shannon Kiley, 25, Lincoln, CA. Front row: Cathy Gao, 22, Beijing, China; Olivia Crissman, 21, Winston-Salem, NC; Holly McClain, 25, Grass Valley, CA; Emma McDowell, 23, Chambersburg, PA; Kim Beisel, 26, Upland, CA.
A.W. Tozer said, “God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.” In a recent staff meeting we focused our prayer time on the big picture of what God is doing at the Ranch, working to look beyond the limitations of our ability and sense of vision to see God’s.We started by remembering examples of God’s provision from Scripture. Hearing the group sharing story after story was faith-nurturing and exciting. The reminders of God’s frequent and powerful acts of supernatural provision helped us ask for big things, like the money needed to reopen transitional houses and to remodel the downstairs of the main building. We prayed that an abundance of resources and helpers would arrive, allowing us to do everything we believe is part of God’s desire for these young people.We prayed again that the Ranch would be God’s project, not ours, and that we wouldn’t handicap His work or vision by our limitations.
Amanda was strangely quiet as a toddler. When most her age were saying their first words, Amanda didn’t utter a sound. Her delayed speech was later attributed to abuse in the home. Amanda was removed from her birth family at age two, to be adopted into a family of 11 children, four of whom were already out of the house, the remaining seven all adopted. Amanda loved the vibrancy of a full home.
After Amanda entered the first grade, the family had just moved to Colorado, when her father was taken away. Shortly after, her brother, Rafael, also left, and one of her sisters ran away from home. Without any explanation, Amanda was left to interpret these events on her own. Confused and sad, Amanda, struggling to express herself, was often in tears. Though she began to see a counselor, she wouldn’t speak.
Four moves and several years later, as Amanda was entering high school, she was the only child left in the home when Rafael returned to live with them. Having just moved to a new neighborhood, Amanda was hopeful for a companion in her brother to ease the difficulty of making new friends, but her hopes were quickly dashed as she found herself walking home alone from school every day. Amanda reflects on her struggles in communicating: “I started to feel like I didn’t matter...I felt like I couldn’t open up; I felt like that when I was younger, also. That was an issue for me. It led me to making decisions that weren’t right.”
Amanda started seeing a guy who was also her ticket into the drug scene. Up until then, Amanda had been faithfully attending youth group. One night, she arrived under the influence of drugs, and when her leader caught on, Amanda was too ashamed to return. Amanda started to associate with a new crowd of people where the drugs were stronger and the stakes were higher. Amanda was returning home from the park one night when she was choked and sexually assaulted by the male that was escorting her home. Amanda began to crumble inside. Though her mother immediately detected something was wrong, Amanda instinctively gravitated toward her boyfriend. Depression and anxiety began to set in.
One day at school, a family history project was assigned and everyone was asked to share in front of the class. As Amanda delineated her family tree, embarrassment and shame overwhelmed her. More than ever, Amanda yearned for a father, for someone to care for and protect her. Amanda desired to share with her mother all that was going on inside her, but shame overtook her. She began to despair of her very existence.