Almost 12 years ago a friend of mine introduced me to a place called the El Shaddai Ranch. The Ranch is a beautiful 85 acre piece of property 30 minutes outside of St. Louis County. It is nestled in the rolling hills of Lincoln County with picturesque rock-bottom creek, mature trees, and large lake. As a young youth pastor, I first got involved by leading an event called Rally at the Ranch. During this time my wife and I built a special friendship with the founders of the ministry, Bryan and Debbie Short. We were immediately drawn to their love for Jesus and incredible gift of hospitality. No matter how busy Bryan and Debbie were, they always welcomed us like family. Even in those early years, Heather and I felt a special draw to the property. Little did we know, God was planting a seed in our hearts that would take 12 years to bloom.
Fast forward to fall of 2016. I had lunch with Bryan one afternoon and he shared with me that he sensed it was time to transition out of leadership at the Ranch. He proposed a sale of the property and asked if Heather and I would be interested in becoming the new directors. We took a lot of time to pray and seek wise counsel. This was a huge step for us and we wanted to make sure it fit with our giftings and call to ministry. After a few months of discussion and prayer, we sensed the Lord saying YES! To purchase the property, we knew that we couldn’t do it alone. After sharing the vision with St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, our friends there made a very gracious commitment to partner with a bridge loan as we are establishing our 501©3.
It took us some time to bring all of the details together, but as of Feb. 2017 we are the official owner/directors of the ranch! Due to the fact that the ranch was purchased from the Shorts/El Shaddai, it will now have a new name. We are calling the ministry Redemption Ranch, to be a constant reminder that Jesus purchased us from our slavery to sin. In the coming years, our focus will be on strengthening families, developing leaders, and serving the community. The ranch will build on the legacy of the Shorts, while turning its focus to family camps, marriage retreats, church planter trainings, leadership summits, and missional events that serve the greater St. Louis area.
The Lord has been incredibly kind to give my family this opportunity. We have big shoes to fill and feel inadequate in so many ways. At the same time, we are comforted by the fact that God is with us. He will supply all that we need, including wisdom, partners, and strategy for what is ahead. We covet your prayers and look forward to the opportunity to serve you!