In March, we shared about the completion of the first phase of the strategic plan, which entailed reallocating resources to best meet the current needs of the ministry. We paid off our debt, began increasing our web presence, and reassessed our recruitment strategy. Our next step is beginning the long-term project of renovating our facilities
“There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” This quote by the hero of faith Hudson Taylor sits at the top of CEM’s Strategic Plan. It is an encouragement but also an exhortation: inasmuch as we’re confident in God’s leading, we must not back away from a single challenge that comes our way.
After a season with several transitions, we’ve completed a phase of hiring and have a full, strong staff team lined up. It’s fun to see evidence that the Lord knows what gifts and abilities are needed for the unique work of CEM, and we’re grateful He’s brought us the people we need. Over the coming months we’ll introduce our new team members to you.
Last month I discussed our need to step into the next phase of growth as a ministry and our excitement to do so. I’m happy to say that since then the first two steps forward are completed!
Step one: dealing with debt. We’re thrilled to announce the Ranch is now 100% debt-free! Ten years ago CEM purchased the house and property of our closest neighbor on a 15-year loan. This purchase has provided crucial staff housing, enabling another family to live on property and provide community, safety, and support for our students. Housing is often essential for staff to afford to serve here, so this investment will be a key longterm benefit to CEM. Thanks to the last two record-breaking Agony rides covering much more of the burden of student sponsorships than usual, we were able to use general fund money to pay off the house five years early! This is a tremendous victory and a crucial first step in our plans. Please join us in thanking God! Now we can use those resources to tackle other hurdles we face.
In 2014 CEM entered a time of great change. Several long-term Ranch leaders began to reach retirement age and transition out, beginning with Jim and Marion Parker. Mike Petrillo followed shortly after, and a couple of staff changes have happened each year since. Late last year, our beloved Counseling Director, John Cox, announced his imminent retirement in June of this year. Mike Petrillo has written a beautiful and spot-on article about John and his impact on the Ranch family featured in this issue.
Personally, back in 2014 I wondered how CEM as an organization would handle the retirements of these key leaders. Losing them was a huge blow to the ministry! But the Lord has clearly not withdrawn His blessing and provision from CEM: He has been calling talented, committed, high-integrity, and creative new people to come join our ministry team.
Sordid scandals of leaders who abuse their power saturate the news these days. Some use power to manipulate, take advantage of, or abuse people they are responsible to care for; some even use it to criminal ends. Money, sex, and power all entice, and leaders who hunger for these can sabotage their souls, organizations, and even countries. Salacious misdeeds are not the only danger, though: leadership is often isolating and treacherous in much more subtle and ordinary ways as well. Leadership transitions are often particularly difficult—those involved seem extra prone to missteps and damaging relationships, and the tenor can quickly become hostile, either visibly or beneath the surface.
I am deeply grateful to God that the story of CEM has been so remarkably different. The accompanying photo represents 38 years of Ranch directorship and several leadership transitions. It also represents five friends from five different decades.
BY: Churck Boatman
CEM's Executive Director
“Seasons” is a term I hear in Christian conversation these days. As we read in Genesis 8:2, it’s a very biblical concept: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” This was God’s promise of faithfulness to Noah after the great flood. It should be no surprise, then, that our spirits should seek to order the elements of our lives according to the principle of seasons.
In the natural world, each season has its own kind of weather. In the Midwest and South, springtime often comes with powerful tornadoes that leave a trail of destruction behind them. The young people whom God sends to CEM come to us in the springtime of their lives, most of them having already experienced some devastating blows that threatened to destroy them.
by: Chuck Boatman
CEM's Executive Director
Seeing lives change is one of the primary joys we experience in being a part of CEM. Sometimes the change happens slowly in the form of steady growth. More often, the growth comes in spurts, with occasional setbacks requiring the change process to begin again.
I was reminded of this recently as I was reading Jeremiah. In chapter 18, God told the prophet Jeremiah to visit a potter and observe him at work. The vessel the potter was creating developed a flaw, so he made it a lump of clay again and formed a new vessel on the wheel.
by: chuck boatman
CEM's Executive Director
Refreshing rain...in abundance! Several major storms brought much needed precipitation to most of California in the early days of 2017. Our ponds here at the Ranch were overflowing. Wolf Creek—which we have to cross on a primitive bridge to get out to “civilization”—flowed fast and deep.
Fortunately, at the Ranch we had no weather-related troubles. However, in many places, floods washed out roads, traffic accidents multiplied, and several people lost their lives. A restaurant in Nevada City was flooded out, and a 100’ wide by 75’ deep sinkhole developed in a Grass Valley parking lot.
by: mike petrillo
CEM's EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 1994 - 2015
One of the Board members for Christian Encounter Ministries brought a full set of armor to church recently. All the elements that are mentioned in Ephesians 6 were evident. It made a good impression standing at the front of the fellowship room, and the talk about preparing for spiritual battle was extra effective because of the display.
Of course, the armor never moved, the sword didn’t cut, the shield didn’t rise. There were no shouts of victory, nor enemies scattered—at least that I could see. This armor was a learning tool, but it did not spring into action. I thought the parallels were striking. The scripture describes these tools, weapons, defenses and their purposes quite clearly, but if we never put them into action, the armor is even less useful than the little steel man in front of the church. At least he provided a good image for training.
By: Chuck Boatman
A year ago this month, Barbara and I began our ministry here. I’d like to share with you a few impressions of Christian Encounter Ministries gained during my first year here.
First, I’ve seen the dedication of the people who help to make this ministry happen. Some of our staff members have spent most of their lives in ministry here. Others who have joined the team more recently share equally in this loyalty to their calling.