For each of the seven weeks of programming this summer at Wildwood Hills Ranch, we’ll be emailing a Story of the Week to keep you in the know of the transformation happening and what God is up to here at the Ranch.
We wrapped up staff training last week and were blown away by the leadership and hearts of those who will be serving our students this summer. Below, meet one of our staff who is also a former rancher.
My name is Sarah and I’m on staff this summer at the Ranch. I was a student here first and loved it so much I took full advantage of the 10-year commitment the ranch makes to children, attending every year I could between the ages of 8–18.
My parents introduced me to Christ, but also to emotional and verbal abuse. I was devastated by words that my mom spoke to me. I figured they must be true—why else would she speak them? I grew up believing that I wasn’t ever good enough, overwhelmed by a lack of worth. Later, I began to punish myself by cutting.
In high school, I was sexually abused by a teacher at school. Again, I thought I must have come to deserve it somehow. I didn’t tell anyone right away, fearing no one would believe me. I cried myself to sleep for years, began having night terrors and could barely find 3 hours sleep at night. The girly girl me now hid in oversized sweatshirts and baggy sweatpants. I grew quiet, eventually wanting to end my life. End. My. Life. ‘Heaven is so much better than what I’m going through,’ I thought. Because I LOVED Wildwood, and looked forward to going every summer, I made a plan to attend one last time and then I would do it—commit suicide.
I’ll never forget when one of the staff at the Ranch pulled me and a few other students aside to talk about suicide that week. It was as if he knew what was going on inside my heart and what I needed to hear. I remember receiving the message that God could use me for so much more on this earth. As good as heaven sounded, there was purpose to my life here and now. I promised God that week that I would never commit suicide. And I’ve had to rely on that promise.
Throughout my childhood, the Ranch was a refuge. It was a safe place where I could be myself. At school I felt I needed to pretend to be the quiet, Christian girl. At camp, I felt like I could be true to myself—outgoing and friendly with a little bit of crazy thrown in! The staff made each student feel worthy and like they were here just for you. The Ranch has helped me to heal and replace the lies that I’d grown up believing with God’s truth—that I have purpose and that I’m worthy of God’s love.
I’m now a teacher and it’s a redeeming environment for me to be part of. I’m helping to create a safe environment where kids feel loved and where they can be themselves. If you’d like to help be part of God’s work in redeeming more stories, consider becoming a Dream Builder. I promise you will change lives. I am walking, living, breathing proof.