9-year-old Melody’s life was turned upside down when she lost her mother to cancer.
Not only did she lose her mother, but as a result, she was separated from her brothers when they were each placed in different foster homes.
Melody felt displaced and anxious. She was desperately lonely and emotionally shattered.
But the workers at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, Oregon knew that one of their best horses, Liberty Belle, could help Melody process her loss.
Liberty Belle came to Crystal Peaks with her brother and experienced high anxiety after the move to the ranch. The mare had a difficult time adjusting to the new environment.
The workers at Crystal Peaks paired Liberty Belle with Melody in hopes of helping both the girl and the horse move through their pain.
That’s what happens at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch: people and horses work together to heal wounds and empower each other. The ranch’s mission is to “rescue the equine, mentor the child, offer hope for the family, and empower the ministry.”
This mission is fulfilled in a number of different ways, all of which reflect the ranch’s vision “to provide a safe and positive experience for children and families to learn about the saving hope of Jesus Christ.”
Crystal Peaks was founded on the belief that Jesus is the One True Savior. Staff at the ranch do their utmost to demonstrate the love of Christ in whatever they do with and for the horses and the people.
Melody was one such recipient of God’s love.
The little girl worked with Liberty Belle for hours. A trainer at the ranch helped Melody to lead Liberty Belle away from her brother and into a round pen, or training area.
Suddenly, the horse and the girl were in the same situation, missing their brothers and feeling incredible loneliness. Melody and the trainer worked to calm the mare, inviting her to “join up” with their small herd, but Liberty Belle galloped away time after time.
The mare wasn’t ready to trust Melody yet, but the trainer recognized an opportunity to engage in a spiritual conversation.
“Melody, is that how you feel with God?” she asked the little girl. “Like you’re not sure you can fully trust Him?”
“Yeah,” Melody admitted. The pain of her mother’s death and the separation from her brothers had left her raw and ragged, afraid to trust God with her future.
“That’s okay,” the trainer told her. “God loves you and He’s patient with you. Just like we waited for Liberty Belle, He will wait for you. He wants you to choose to trust Him.”
Over the following weeks, Melody kept working with Liberty Belle. The mare gradually started to trust Melody, “joining up” to form a herd of two and demonstrating what faith looked like to the little girl.
The trainer kept stirring up spiritual conversations with Melody, wondering if she would ever come to faith in Jesus. Eventually, as the girl kept working with horses, she confessed, “I do trust God.”
The trainer was overwhelmed with joy, knowing that Melody’s journey to Christ had been shaped by her work with Liberty Belle and the other horses at Crystal Peaks. Just as Liberty Belle had “joined up” with Melody, so Melody had “joined up” with Jesus!
Melody’s story is one of many from the ministry of Crystal Peaks. The ranch works with youth of all ages, tailoring riding sessions to fit the individual needs of each child.
Many of the children come from broken homes and difficult situations, but when they’re paired with the ranch’s horses, they’re allowed to work toward healing in a unique environment.
Horses are also healed at Crystal Peaks. Most of the 25-30 horses living on the ranch have been rescued from abusive or neglectful situations, and the ranch staff work hard to help the horses move forward physically and mentally.
It’s often the kids who have the biggest role in helping the horses, and vice versa. Both people and horses can be cast aside, unwanted and alone, but the strong bonds formed in training and riding help empower everyone involved.
There are many ways to get involved in the ministry of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. If you live near Bend, Oregon, you can volunteer on the ranch!
If you’re not geographically close to Crystal Peaks, you can still contribute to this wonderful ministry in a variety of ways. You can sponsor a horse, join the prayer team, or donate a specific item for the horses or kids.
Each year, hundreds of children like Melody experience the grace of God at Crystal Peaks. Keep the ranch staff in your prayers as they work to share the love of Jesus through this unique ministry!