Often in life looking back can be great, but also hard. Life always has highs and lows. It’s great because we are able to remember the highs, those wonderful things that happened like a special anniversary, a milestone in your child's life, a big win by your favorite team, or great memories of a once in a lifetime adventure/vacation your family was able to experience. It can also be hard because we remember and often feel those lows still. Those struggles of varying degrees like health challenges, loss of job, strained relationships, or even the death of a family member or friend.
As I think back on the last 5 years at New Life Ranch, WOW, it’s been an incredible journey - with highs and lows. For me, some of the lows have mainly been related to the past 2 years with some of the challenges that the covid pandemic presented. Making the decision to end 2 areas of ministry and let 6 full time staff go was incredibly difficult, certainly a low. I believe the most difficult decision we’ve ever had to make as a ministry. It was hard and it hurt! Some of the conflict and division that has occurred among believers has been a challenging low. Less campers and retreat guests coming to camp has been a low from a ministry impact standpoint and it also created financial challenges.
But there have also been some incredible highs over the last 5 years. Consistently one of the greatest highs over the last 5 years is the fact that thousands of campers and guests each year have continued to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and been equipped for ministry - we are fulfilling our mission! Another high has been experiencing God’s faithfulness to New Life Ranch financially - we were able to fully fund and complete the $6.7 million Impact Campaign (new cabins, pool, and dining hall.) Even though summer camp and retreat group registration has been down, God has provided through the pandemic the last 2 years by exceeding our $1.2 million Ministry Recovery Fund; our first time to raise operational dollars in decades. We fully funded our $1 million Restore Campaign (rebuilding the dam at NLR Flint Valley). But probably the most visible high over the last 5 years would have to be the addition of New Life Ranch Frontier Cove on August 22, 2018. God provided more capacity so that we wouldn’t lose a generation of campers by not having space for them or retreat guests. God moved in the hearts of four families and we were able to purchase Camp Dry Gulch in Adair, OK (now New Life Ranch Frontier Cove) for $10 million. Our vision of becoming a family of camps was accomplished, but we aren’t finished.
As we look to what’s next, we are as committed as ever to staying rooted in our mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping believers for ministry, and fulfilling that in more and more lives. Our emerging vision for the coming years is to become a trusted family of camps fulfilling our mission while doubling the amount of people we serve. It’s about impacting more lives for the glory of God. I look forward to reaching 2027 and being able to look back and praising God for all of the great things He has accomplished, the highs and lows.