The longer you’re involved with Christian Encounter, the more you see the lasting results of the Ranch ministry: lives changed and hope restored. Student stories fill our minds and impact our hearts, and each one affirms that what happens here yields eternal and incalculable benefits.
Now it’s time to reinvest in how we do this great work. Over the past year we’ve been gearing up for a significant push to overhaul the CEM property and facilities. Our goals include lowering overheads, displaying exceptional stewardship, and of course enhancing the experience of every young person who comes on property.
...we’ve broken down a number of the projects in the Master Plan that we’re currently working toward. This is a time of important and strategic investment--and it’s fun, too! It’s fun to see the small army of volunteers and donors that have already come together to accomplish big jobs. It’s also fun to anticipate the ways these projects can benefit the Ranch many years into the future.
Each project takes multiple pieces coming together, including planning, finances, and manpower. Our prayer is God would put the puzzle together in the way He knows will best accomplish His plans for the CEM community.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director
Will you consider joining this endeavor?
Do you know someone looking for a gap year program? Or someone who wants to serve on the mission field? What about that incredible young person helping out at youth group? We’re only asking for an initial three-month commitment and that applicants be at least 21 years of age.
Visit our Internship pages for more information.
Though TJ succesfully transitioned into young adulthood, he didn’t feel a sense of fulfillment when he got there. As he prayed through this season, he found a CEM business card on the floor of his car. Though TJ had visited CEM a couple of years prior, he resisted God’s invitation to internship. This time around, still disillusioned with life, TJ prayed that only if someone was to reach out to him regarding internship would he come. Two people contacted him in the same day.
Despite his initial resistance to God’s call, TJ is leaving CEM more impacted from the past eight months than he could have anticipated from such a short window of time.
“I’ve allowed God to use me in ways I wouldn’t have expected God to use me. I wasn’t just brought here to be a body; I was brought here to be a part of the body. I’ve been privileged to live with the people here.
I love the students. I love the interns. I love the staff. There hasn’t been a day here where I haven’t seen God move in some way. There hasn’t been a day when I’ve thought the sacrifice of my time was not worth it.”
*CEM’s annual 15-day backpacking trip serves as an opportunity for our students and interns to unplug from the responsibilities and distractions of daily life and experience the great outdoors. CEM has been leading wilderness backpacking trips since its inception over 40 years ago.
Our participants learned the importance of these phrases as they took turns ascending the rock face, some more than once. But rock climbing was only a small portion of their 15 day trip. On the first day of the trip, they completed some team initiatives that gave them a taste of what was ahead. During the remainder of the trip, our lean and mean group of eight learned the importance of communication, perseverance, and trust as they took turns navigating unfamiliar terrain to get to their camping spot each night. And though they unwittingly left their spice kit in their last resupply, they ate pretty well, too.
In my physical and emotional challenges, it was important to trust God and know that He wasn’t going to give up on me, so I shouldn’t give up on me either.
In August and September, Salena Berger and Austin Sather stepped into staff positions upon finishing their two-year and one-year internships, respectively. Salena came on as a full-time receptionist, a position formerly shared by two people. Austin joined Dave LaRash in the Maintenance Department as the Maintenance Coordinator.
Whether or not I can believe it, it’s already been a year since Chuck Boatman retired as CEM’s Executive Director and the baton was handed to me. The completion of the year has felt like a significant personal milestone, so I took some time to reflect on the lessons, victories, and hard times the Lord led us through over the course of this year. One particular theme of memories and thoughts has sifted out: overwhelming gratitude.
It starts with the simple reality that there’s something so very special about the Ranch. I still have a hard time describing the depth of this place, but I do know for certain it’s an honor to be part of it, and especially to know the people here. Each different group involved in this community contributes so much.
“Before [my internship] I had to seclude myself to hear God...I would set aside an hour or two for quiet time. It was hard to get alone time with God in the structure of Ranch life...[But] day to day, He would reveal things through daily interactions...He’s always with me. Before I needed to make an appointment. [Now] I’m often praying in the moment during the day, drawing as close as I can… “
- David Hernandez, 3-month intern
David finished his internship in August and returned to UC Merced, where he will continue his studies in Political Science.
Over the past few months I’ve mentioned a number of ways we’re working to update CEM, from policies to procedures to facilities. Today I’m happy to announce another step forward and introduce our new mission and vision statements! The format is new, but the content is not: you’ll immediately recognize the same heart and focus behind our new formulations.
For over a year we’ve recognized the need to do this. Organizations have moved toward succinct mission and vision statements, with the benchmark being 3-22 words. This is a widely-held standard for a number of reasons, including ease in communicating these crucial ideas with external constituencies, as well as helping to maintain a precise, crystalized internal focus.
For decades the Ranch has had a purpose document that has underpinned what we do as a ministry and why, and we’ve also had a motto. The purpose statement is useful for internal discussions and guiding the Board of Directors in making decisions, but it’s not suited for communicating the heart of CEM to the outside world.
“Something I observed in the dorm that I was hesitant to address at first was the negativity surrounding body image. When the girls were getting ready in the morning, they would be poking at different parts of their bodies, asking, “Why can’t I change this?” My first response was to tell them, “You’re beautiful.” I quickly realized my words were being deflected... but I wanted them to see that their health is so much more than physical health. I would ask them, “What do you love about yourself? What do you like about your roommate?” We made daily goals to better our physical health, but I really strived to help them look internally, too. There were nights when we were rolling on the floor laughing while doing an ab workout. I realized it is the small things of daily life that we can speak into.”
- Vanessa Harris, 3-month intern
After completing her internship in August, Vanessa returned to William Jessup University to complete her last semester of studies in Psychology.