This past Friday night I had the opportunity to go to the Big Oak Ranch for Girls. The Women's Ministry at my Church has gone a few Friday nights this year to eat and watch movies with the girls so the house parents could have a night out. This was my first time to go and what a treat! We had a Christmas dinner and did some fun crafts.
The Ranch sits on 325 acres. It has 8 residential homes (where the girls live with their foster parents), a gym, pool and equine center. It is so beautiful there. Even the name is beautiful, it comes from Isaiah 61:3 "And they shall be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified." I praise God for men like John Croyle who followed God's calling to minister to these children.
I had no idea the scope of the Big Oak Ranch and the ministry it is. I also had no idea how much a couple of these girls were going to get under my skin and take residence in my heart. One was 14-year old Nara. She's one of those larger-than-life personalities who attached her hip to mine right from the get-go. She kept me laughing and at one point said she wished she could get a hold of my hair and fix it. Hmmm...
Towards the end of the night we were paired with a girl to talk and pray. I was paired with Vanessa. She's in the 10th grade and from the moment she opened her mouth, I wanted to take her home. She told me she and her sister have been at the Ranch for 10 years. That's so hard for me to comprehend. I don't know her story - all I know is that she looked happy and the things she asked me to pray for were normal teenager things like school and a boy at Church she has a crush on. 10 years ago her list was probably a lot different.
I hope I have many more opportunities to go back. I can't get these two girls off my mind. God arranged our meeting and I'll forever be greatful.