The last two months have been a whirlwind! So many blessings. So many things to share!
- $1,000 has come in for the non-profit formation fund. Hooray!!
- $2,000 has been pledged to cover the remaining cost of the non-profit formation bill. We are excited to see God provide!!!
- Two weeks ago, Jay and I signed and dropped of the engagement letter and a check for the initial start up fees to the lawyer - the ball is rolling!!
- We were blessed with yet another very generous donation of a Home Depot gift card as well as a couple brand new flat screen TV's and DVD players! Thank you!!
- And we've had the privilege of hosting more incredible people here at the Ranch.
Our hearts have been deeply touched by the couples that have been here recently. We have had both new and returning guests lately. There are different needs with each person who comes out. We try to find out ahead of time what our guests are looking for so we can serve them in the best way possible. Some folks just want rest. Other people want to visit. Then there are the folks who need someone to listen. Sometimes we hear things that break our hearts and grip our souls. We are incredibly blessed to hear the amazing things that God is doing though the ministries of people who come here.
I want to tell you about one of these couples in particular. I've changed their names and purposely am not revealing the location of their ministry to protect them....you'll understand why as you read.
The couple, who I will call Greg and Sarah, are some of the most humble, gentle people I have ever met. They also emit a strength and realness about them. Greg and Sarah are missionaries to an Asian country and have been guests at the Ranch several times over the past few years. They use the Ranch as a base for raising support and ministering to people in this area.
Their ministry is just staggering. Here are some facts about what they do.
- Over 30 years ago they helped start a Bible School which trains people to be pastors. During that time their school has taught 1,600 students who have started over 600 churches. The students receive their teaching free of charge because any cost to them would be prohibitive due to the poverty level.
- They helped start a tailoring and embroidery school for women which is offered free of charge as well. They also give sewing machines to the neediest women. Sarah told me with great feeling the story of widow who is now able to support her family of five due to the skills she has learned and the gift of a sewing machine.
- For almost 2 decades Greg has preached the gospel on the radio in the native language.
- They hold seminars twice a year for widows and children. They give out free school supplies, bibles and clothing. They also feed everyone free of charge. This past seminar they fed 2,704 people, gave out 1,000 Bibles, and supplied clothing for 1,262 people.
- They also hold a pastor's seminar. At the most recent seminar they were able to give bicycles to 25 of the pastors. They were excited to tell us about the headlights on the bikes - These bikes are the only transportation that these pastors have and having a headlight allows them get places after dark.
Greg and Sarah shared much more of their story with us during this visit to the Ranch. Greg and Sarah minister mostly to the poorest of the poor. They were born native and into wealthy families. Sarah told us how the people they care for don't understand why they would care. Most of the time people from influential families in their country never even look at the poor, much less minister to them. Sarah said it is such a powerful way to show Jesus' love because of this. Women come up to her, grab her hands, kiss them and want to know why they care. Socially, Greg and Sarah don't have to care, but they love because of Jesus.
There is much persecution of Christians in the country where they minister. Greg told us of a pastor friend who recently was attacked while traveling on a train. He was beaten and nearly killed because he was a minister of the gospel. Greg and Sarah have to be incredibly careful. Greg told us that he has been under a standing death threat for many years by the powers that be. Every time they return to that country they are risking their lives for the sake of their love of Jesus and the people there. They do take every precaution and have canceled trips due to safety issues. Sarah and Greg told us that when they became followers of Jesus they vowed that should there come a time when they are faced with death for the sake of Jesus, that they will accept death for the sake of the love of Jesus.
Sarah's eyes filled with tears as she told us about their son. We knew part of the story but not all of it. Around 5 years ago Greg and Sarah's son John jumped into a river to save a drowning child. He managed to rescue the child but drowned himself as a result. He left a young widow and a devastated family. We could see the pain in Sarah's eyes. They told us that they found a letter in his belongings. This was a letter John had written to Jesus telling Him how much John loved Him. The letter ended telling Jesus that if John was asked to give his life for Jesus, he would. While their son was not martyred, his parents told of what a joy and comfort that letter was to them. My eyes were filled with tears standing before these gentle souls who have given so much for their Jesus. Jay and I left their cabin feeling deeply moved. We had to duck into a vacant cabin so I could let out the tears...I wasn't going to make it down to the house! Jay was affected as well, we were just so moved by their love of their Savior. It wasn't fake, it wasn't put on, it just was.
I told Jay how much I wanted to help them... then I remembered. Through Living Springs Ranch we are helping. Maybe we couldn't give money personally. Maybe we couldn't keep them safe all the time. But they have stayed here dozens of times over the years. Every time they used this facility, they saved the money they would have spent on a hotel. On top of that every time they were here they could feel safe, cared for and loved. What a little thing I often take for granted- simply feeling safe.
Jay and I wanted to share this with all of you. Every one of you who has prayed for Living Springs Ranch, given time, money, donated items and given support- each one of you is part of what happens here. Because of you we can offer a safe haven and relief to people like Greg and Sarah. This isn't Jay and Tiffany's ministry- It's God's ministry and each of us has a chance to be part of what He is doing here.
God bless you all!
Jay and Tiffany