I am often asked to talk about the impact the Ranch is having on participants, and so many times am at a loss for words. How do you describe seeing trust in a child's eyes for the first time? or years of fear being shattered into a million pieces when confidence breaks through? How do you truly capture hope?
In working with kids, teens, and young adults in sessions week over week we see barriers of fear being overcome. Mostly over a period of time, but sometimes in a moment. One of the activities we have our new participants do is a desensitizing exercise called "the friendly game" with a stick: a thin 4-foot pole with a rope attached to the end. It's a harmless object in our hands, but with one of our horses a very similar object was used to beat him in the past. We have participants gently rub the horse's body with the stick to show the horse that, in their hands, it is safe. In my first session with a particular young woman as I was explaining this, tears started to flow down her face and fear gripped her. Wanting to understand, I patiently waited for a period of time, then gently encouraged her to pick up the stick and just touch my ever-patient horse's leg. She was quite literally paralyzed with the reality that the exercise she was about to do with the horse, we later found out, is something that paralleled the very thing she was struggling with. See, our sweet participant is a survivor of human trafficking- sold at a young age by her mother to supply her drug addiction- and an every-day object, with no ability to inflict pain and fear it's self was used in a way to control her. I watched and waited patiently, silently praying, as she overcame this by choosing to engage in the challenge set before her. As she gently lifted the stick up, draped it over my now attentive yet calm horse's back, fear was shattered in a moment as the grace and compassion of the Lord met her there and allowed her to step out in trust to overcome the fear that was crippling her from trying. With each additional lift and drape of the stick, the wall of fear she had built surrounding her object of fear was being eradicated- brick by brick. Just like our precious participant, the Lord meets people at their point of need, understanding their terrifying fears and knowing the very thing that will lead to our breakthrough. Psalm 148 assures us that "The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love" and I love that He uses His creation to help teach us these lessons. What a humbling honor to bear witness to this month after month, day after day and session after session at Freedom Reigns Ranch. #jesus #horses #ranchministry #freedomreignsranch #naturalhorsemanship