In late summer, our students and interns were not only exposed on rock faces and exposed to the elements for 15 days, but they were exposed to the reality of God and to one another. Here’s what they learned.
Praying specifically each morning about my fears calmed me down and gave me a sense of peace, and I felt more ready to conquer whatever the day held for me. Meeting this goal each morning then helped me learn in a very real way that God is bigger than my fears and is present with me as I face them.
In the past I’ve had the attitude of “yeah, God is real, but I need something to prove that. I need evidence. I see nature - I get that. But I need a personal experience.” And this trip hit me hard with that. Even though God pushed me to my limits, He showed me through that how real He is.
16,670 miles ridden
$200,000+ raised in gifts and pledges
Men: Luis Magallon, 399
Women: Rosemary Lechnowsky, 329
New tandem record:
(The previous tandem record was 324 miles.
This year we had two tandem teams surpass the previous record.)
Gary Robinson & Carol Douglass, 350
Paul McClain & Michael Johnson, 329
Most money raised (CER staff):
Nate Boyd - $14,543
Most money raised (non-staff):
Jonathan Palmer - $14,237
Mark your calendars for next year’s Ride! July 24-25, 2020
More than a grueling physical event that its name implies, the Agony Ride serves as an annual “reset” for many - a stripping away of the crust that has hardened over our hearts in response to the pain in this world and the trials we face. This was evident as rider after sagger after rider stepped on stage during our Sunday church service following the Ride to share a personal reflection.
Second-time rider, Michael Johnson, who has participated in a number of organized cycling events, says what sets the Agony Ride apart is not just the exemplary service provided at each SAG station, but who is providing the service. “When you’re two hours into the Ride and things are starting to hurt, and it dawns on you that you have 22 more hours to go, it’s mentally crushing...[The students] are what makes it...[You] lifted me up and kept me positive and kept me going. You took that crushing weight off...” Our students gave of themselves continuously and found that the riders did the same. This is the beautiful illustration of the ongoing cycle of unrestrained giving that happens at the Agony Ride.
Thank you to all who sacrificed to be out in the Sierra Valley with us this year and to the thousands of sponsors from all over the world - we continue to be overwhelmed by your generosity.
(To those who were unable to attend the Sunday Service, a recording is available here.)
In June, we had the opportunity to celebrate God’s work in and through the lives of individuals this past year.
Jan Kern was the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Service Award, providing extensive invaluable insight and coaching to the staff this past fall.
Amanda (Polejewski) McIntyre (‘07) shared a message of encouragement from the stage as our Alumni Award recipient.
Student Amanda received the Cornelius Grant, which will aid in her ongoing stay in the program.
Graduation was held in early June. We are very proud of our students who finished their California high school graduation requirements, but are continuing their time as students at Christian Encounter.
*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.
"The things that CEM enforces have allowed me to look at life from another person’s ideas, even if I don’t agree with them. I’ve learned that being able to take in someone else’s perspective on how the world should be run is a good skill to have...I’ve excelled much farther than I thought I could have at age 17. But, I believe that aside from my schooling, the one thing that the staff and interns here have taught me is that life is a lot easier when you’re obedient to authority and you do what’s expected of you. Even if in your eyes it’s illogical, know that the world won’t always be there to spell things out and make sense to you. You can’t protest against everything life throws at you...Thank you to everyone who had enough faith to pray for my stay. God is the best foundation I’ve ever had. He has been here with me every day, and the things I’ve learned and experienced through Him are life-changing. I feel the most complete I’ve ever felt in my life."
- Kalani, 2018 CEHS Graduate
“Look what God can do.”
I am 19 years old, and I have been at the Ranch for one year and four months. I came to the Ranch with the goals of getting my diploma, and wanting to prove people wrong about not being able to get it. When I was a kid, I went through foster care. My adopted parents later told me, that most kids who go through foster care do not graduate from high school. It was at that time I decided that I would get my diploma at any cost. As it turned out, it only cost me hard work and dedication. I had both, so I made sure that I used them. Through strict determination and hard work I managed to get onto honor roll for each quarter while being at the Ranch. This last quarter I earned 101% in two classes. This is the best that I have ever done in school."
- Dorrie, 2018 CEHS Graduate
(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.)
Read below for glimpses of how this 15-day backpacking trip in Tahoe National Forest with no toilet paper (and other essentials) rocked our world. Somedays we wanted to give in and give up, but instead we learned to look in and look up. To God be the glory.
Ropes Course Day is the precursor to our 15-day backpacking trip, testing the strength, agility, and stamina of students and interns. We saw brazen courage, camaraderie, and a whole lot of tenacity out there.
Savannah (pictured above) shares, “Last year I cried my whole way up the ladder. My faith has become a lot stronger that it has ever been. This year I wasn’t scared at all...”
Please keep our students and interns in prayer as they continue their trek through Tahoe National Forest. They return Sept. 8.
Celebrate with us all that God has done this past year!
Excerpts from 2017 Graduate speeches:
“It was very hard when I had to come here to CEM. I was still mourning the loss of my mom [the year before] to stage 3 ovarian cancer [after a ten year battle]...When I came to CEM, I was not ready to let anybody in. It was hard on me and on them, but now I’m way stronger than I have ever been in my 20 years of life. I have to thank everyone who pushed me beyond my limits and for always being there for me. Thank you for giving me the strength and the motivation to find my way and push through with my education...” - Brianna
“[At CEM] I’ve made new friends, new memories, and I look to the future with new eyes. I’ve realized that I came to a place where God lives, a place where you can truly encounter God...” - Zack
“When I came to the Ranch, I was depressed and suicidal. I could not see God in my life, and with all that I had done and gone through, I couldn’t see why He’d want to be a part of it. I was masking a lot of my pain and fear with just about anything that could make you feel like anything you’re not. Thanks to an old friend, I found the Ranch, where I stayed until this past February. This is where I met Christ. All of what I had tried to do on my own to get better, to move on, to find healing and peace was ultimately worthless in comparison to the all-powerful God who can redeem every chapter of our lives. Since knowing Christ, He’s given me the peace, healing, strength, and power to let go of what is behind me.”