As we continue our blog series called “Kingdom Vision,” it is our hope to live and orient our lives according to His ways and not merely our own. Hope Ranch and the DeSarro family have been a blessing to both CLDI, and my family personally. This piece was written by Amanda Flann; we hope you enjoy learning more about the work of Hope Ranch and their partnership with our Youth Works team.
There is something powerful that happens when two organizations partner together in the name of Jesus. Hope Ranch International, a faith-based nonprofit based in Luther, Montana, has worked alongside Youth Works, a youth-centered ministry of CLDI, for the past four years, and together have borne tremendous fruit for the glory of God.
Youth Works exists to ensure that every youth of the South Side of Billings has an opportunity to hear and to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be discipled in His ways. As a known presence in the community, Youth Works staff has built rapport with local youth by being a safe place, a trusted source of encouragement and kindness, a wellspring of gospel-centered love, and lots of fun! Through the 316 house, a South Side gathering place for children and teens, and their various means of outreach, Youth Works is actively cultivating an environment to expose youth to a life with Jesus both inside and outside the South Side community.
At the Ranch
Hope Ranch has become a vital part of Youth Works’ efforts to provide at-risk youth with fun, new, exciting opportunities beyond the boundaries of the South Side neighborhood. Each summer, Hope Ranch works with 500+ at-risk children, including those that Youth Works accompanies to the Ranch. Since its founding in 2002, Hope Ranch has joyfully offered horseback rides, hiking trips, and spiritual mentorship to kids in need. In addition to serving the local Montana population, Hope Ranch also serves internationally in Ethiopia and Columbia by partnering with locals and NGO’s in each region to create schools, safe houses, and more. Collectively, the heart of Hope Ranch International seeks to bring Christ-centered restoration to impoverished families and orphans through domestic and international partnerships with local people for the glory of God.
Discipleship through Shared Experiences
Both Youth Works and Hope Ranch are dedicated to seeing the gospel spread among children. Hope Ranch commented about their partnership with Youth Works, saying, “It has brought us such joy to come alongside an organization like Youth Works that already places such high value in sharing the gospel, investing in relationships that build up students and encourage them to develop a positive identity, and working with staff and interns that are like-minded.” Youth Works’ efforts to foster positive relationships with at-risk youth through shared experiences, like those Hope Ranch, are crucial as they seek to see transformation in the lives of the children they work with. A fun, memorable adventure is often a great opportunity to build trust with each child, which leads to a deepening engagement in day-to-day life. Hope Ranch provides a home-away-from-home retreat that nurtures bonds between Youth Works staff and students that travel back with them to the South Side neighborhood.
Unplugged & Engaged
Youth Works takes multiple trips with car-loads of students each summer to the Ranch to allow them to unplug and explore God’s glorious creation. Together, the partnership that has blossomed between Hope Ranch International and Youth Works has made way for mutual encouragement that spurs one another on towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). Both ministries are united in their dedication to care for children and provide them with breathtaking outdoor experiences, all while unapologetically sharing the transforming love of God. Whether sitting by a campfire, riding a horse across the mountains, eating lunch, or even celebrating a birthday back at the barn — no matter what the Youth Works’ students are engaging in while at Hope Ranch, they are surrounded by both God’s love and people who love them too.