We learn by reflecting on the past. God has given us incredible mental abilities to perceive patterns and logical consequences and to apply wisdom to situations. Our students engage in this reflection with great courage, revisiting their pasts and working through the traumas they’ve experienced, then sharing with others the profound truths that help them heal and choose new paths forward. Not only can we do this as individuals, but as groups too. At the Ranch, this is one way we strive to discern how God wants to work through this ministry.
In a recent period of reflection, we recently discussed the name “Christian Encounter Ministries.” When founded as a residential church for young people in California in 1970, it was officially “Christian Encounter.” But even in the earliest days, it was nicknamed “The Ranch.” After a few years, the name became “Christian Encounter Ministries,” an appropriate umbrella term for an organization that had quickly grown to include several different outreaches. Another residential facility was opened in Missouri, and then both were expanded to include large wilderness camping programs. LifeEnrich Christian Counseling Center was opened in a strip mall between Grass Valley and Auburn, and a network of homes for young people was operational in San Jose, Yuba City, and Livermore under the CEM banner. To help support all these endeavors, we owned and operated a gas station and mini-mart and also ran a labor-intensive bee business. All of these were overseen from the main hub, “Christian Encounter Ranch,” the residential refuge for young people in pain located at our current site on Retrac Way in Grass Valley.
Eventually, the leadership of CEM felt a clear call to return to its original vision: we were called to be a residential expression of the Body of Christ, focused on youth who were dealing with great pain. This prompted them, decades ago, to spin off the other programs and install other leaders. Despite these changes, however, the umbrella name “Christian Encounter Ministries” remained.
Since that name no longer matches what we do today, our Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to return to “Christian Encounter Ranch” as our operating name moving forward. Not only does this fit who we are, it also makes communicating with the outside world easier: we’ve always called it “The Ranch”! Just as we returned to our original call, we’ve also now returned to the name that accompanied it.
Through these nearly five decades, the grace of the Lord has been felt every single day of the Ranch’s existence, and it’s what we rely on as we look to continue working with these young people as well. I’m grateful for the legacy of leaders who were more concerned about hearts healing than organizations growing.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director