By Susan Zuidema
The drive from the turn-off from Colborne Street East to the Ranch is always a little longer than one might expect (and a little bumpy too) but the atmosphere around the dining room table, and the joy of sharing with one another during the ONEchurch leader’s luncheon in January made it worthwhile.
We were excited to hear from Steve and Andrea Richardson, directors of the Ranch who have been on staff at the Ranch for nearly 26 years. The Richardsons talked about how God is using the Ranch to transform kids’ lives. Over 1500 campers come each summer and only about half are from church families. The Richardsons shared the joy of hearing about decisions to follow Jesus (224 last year!) and pray that these decisions represent one of the first steps in a work the Holy Spirit is doing to transform families.
Steve and Andrea expressed a desire to partner with churches to give kids the experience of seeing faith in Jesus in a different context – one where worship, talking about Jesus and being excited about Him are the norm and integrated in daily activities. They also offer a robust L.I.T. (leader in training program) where they develop the leadership skills of about 25 youth per year. Local churches are encouraged to refer their youth for this leadership opportunity. The Ranch provides a supportive Christian community where youth are discipled and sent back to their home church community ready to serve.
A new and exciting opportunity for the Ranch is arising through a partnership with Brant Native Housing. It is hoped that upwards of 20 indigenous students will get the camp experience with a full scholarship. This is particularly significant because the site where the Ranch sits was once a First Nations village. The Richardsons see this as a way they can participate in the ongoing reconciliation work with our local indigenous community.
Please keep the Richardsons and the Ranch in your prayers as camp season approaches, and consider how your family or church can partner with this ministry which is literally on our doorstep.