One of the many goals of NBI is to expose the students to various ministries. The ministry of Silver Birch Ranch is the one to which they have the most exposure and direct contact. Beyond that, the students have many opportunities to get into the community and serve in many ways. Specifically, recently in October, one-half of the NBI class took a trip to Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London, Wisconsin.
Rawhide Boys’ Ranch is a faith-based ministry that offers counseling programs, residential care, and outpatient mental health services. Rawhide’s Mission statement is the following: “Being dependent on God, we inspire and equip at-risk youth and families to lead healthy and responsible lives through family-centered care, treatment, and education.”
One of the special elements of Rawhide is the family atmosphere. Most of the boys who are sent to Rawhide have broken and/or dysfunctional families back home. Each boy who is at Rawhide for residential treatment is placed into a “home” on campus with a set of house parents. This provides them a model of an operational family unit, and gives them consistency and someone on whom they can rely and respect. Laura Russ, a current NBI student, said this: “It was so nice to see people care so much for those boys. I love how much they invested in them. They not only continue to tell them about Jesus, but they also live as a good example in front of them every day.”
Rawhide uses tools like Equine Therapy to help people work through their struggles. They also have an automotive “business.” Using donated cars, the boys can learn from mechanics how to work with their hands on the vehicles, and then sell them for a profit. That profit goes right back into the ministry of Rawhide, allowing higher quality services for the same cost of other corrective facilities. They also participate in an event called Beat the Heat--a drag racing event that allows the boys to build positive relationships with police officers and be involved in an activity outside of the campus.
The purpose of the NBI students’ visit to Rawhide was not only to expose them to another type of ministry, but also to push them outside of their comfort zone to share the Gospel with these boys. Upon arriving at Rawhide, we were given a tour of the grounds, and our guides explained how each part of the Rawhide ministry works to help the at-risk youth and families. After lunch, we led a chapel service that included worship through song, the testimonies of three students, and a message from one of the students sharing the Gospel and what was on his heart. Following that, each of us was able to sit in on a life skills class with the Rawhide boys. We as RAs were nothing short of proud of the ways the NBI students stepped up to go above and beyond throughout the day.
NBI student, Maxine Stewart, said this: “Rawhide was an amazing experience and opportunity. I enjoyed being able to speak to the students and sit in on one of their classes to see the unique educational methods.” Due to the behavioral needs of the boys, in most class settings two teachers or staff members must always be in the classroom. They also always have a person on standby to come and deescalate an individual or situation if needed.
“Rawhide is a really incredible place. It is evident that God is the center of everything they do. The staff put so much care and thought into working with the boys. The staff show God’s love to them which makes a difference in the boys’ lives,” reflected NBI student, Sarah Rowe. One of the Rawhide staff members explained the difficulty at times in looking past the behavioral outbursts of the boys, and instead, loving them for who they are in Christ. He also explained how it is truly worth it when a boy finally understands for himself the grace and forgiveness that is offered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and transforms his life for the better. Our hope as RAs is that these NBI students would be able to experience this same amazing opportunity in seeing someone come to Christ. There really is nothing in this world quite like it.
“Going to places like Rawhide-organizations committed to caring for others in a Godly way- always humbles me and opens my eyes to other ways my unique gifts from God can be used in ministry. It is inspirational to see, and personally, it provides motivation for me to do the same in my life,” said NBI student, Jordan Keller. What a refreshing, motivating, and special experience it is to watch others serve in the ministry to which God has called them. Join us in praying for these NBI students as they discover how their God-given gifts impact the way they serve in ministry.