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s n o i s s e xpr

Christian Encounter


Expressing the love of Christ


Phone: 530-268-0877

“…O, come let us adore Him— Christ, the Lord!”

A Publication of

Christian Encounter Ministries

Tending Lives…Training Leaders…

Student Profile:

Travis is on the brink of finding meaning and purpose

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29: 11-13

“Thank you, God, for my existence on this planet!” It sounds simple, but to those like Travis who have wondered, “Why am I here?” and “What’s the point?” it is an exciting conclusion. “I am here because God knows me and has a plan

By Mike Petrillo for me. Jeremiah 29:11-13 is true because God knows everything about us.” Confidence in life and confidence in God are not easy for guys like Travis. Early childhood deprivation and abuse created an insecurity that required supernatural healing. Some never overcome that abuse—yet Travis is poised to succeed, poised to find the meaning and purpose that God planned for him before the foundation of the world. When Travis was five, his great aunt and uncle adopted him. They had witnessed his terrible mistreatment and neglect as an infant. With Ron and Sue as his mom and dad and with two good older brothers, Ryan and Lance to look up to, Travis states, “for those next ten years there was no be�er place I could have been.” However, the effects of that early deprivation began to be more and more severe as his teen years approached. Counseling and medication and various parenting skills were applied, but did not

Fishing is what Travis likes best—it provides solace, peace, and success. There’s almost always fresh-caught in the freezer for a special meal. reach the heart of Travis. “At age eleven, I had a surprise. I met my dad. I didn’t know he existed. We visited several times and it was good to meet all of that part of the family. Soon after that I went to live with my birth mom. But that was hell on earth. I stayed a few months but the abuse was so bad that Ron and Sue agreed that I had to come home. Mom came and flew home with me from Virginia.” By thirteen, Travis and his adoptive family were having such difficulty coexisting that Travis went to a boys’ facility

in Oregon. Six months later, he was back home and it was worse than ever. The family kept trying. At the end of 2009, Don and Kathy Thomas, CEM staff members in the 1970’s, brought Travis into their home. Don had served as pastor of Travis’ church, and the Thomases had known him since his early childhood. “That was a peaceful time for me.” While with them Travis visited CEM but was not very interested in coming. He tried another program for a short term, and then, last April, he came to Christian Encounter Ranch. From the beginning,

Memorials and Honorariums Given by: Richard and Roberta Bento Caryn Galeckas

In Memory of: Melissa Bento A�wood Muriel Galeckas

Given by: Traver and Pam Campbell Carol Douglass James and Margaret Knappen

In Honor of: Jim Parker Tom Alderson David and Sue Knappen

Travis wanted only another short stay. He had lived six places since age eleven and in many, many others while a small child. It was not his instinct to trust enough to commit to a longer term. However, God is patient and God is big. He has demonstrated in daily life that He does indeed have a reason for Travis to be part of His world. “One thing that happened was at the 40th year reunion for CEM,” he said. “I got to talk to a potential student about the Ranch and told him that God would change his life here.” That young man is awaiting a spot right now to come and see what plans the Lord has for him. Travis said, “Age 0-17 was all about the first birth; now age 18 is all about new life in Christ. I found out that Jesus can wash away the past so I can become who God wants me to be.” This is a big job— becoming a new creature in Christ. It is a miracle that only God can accomplish. Travis is in the middle of it—finding that God’s love is real and dependable, even though human love is weak and unreliable. Travis is in the middle of seeing Him restore relationships, with God first, and now with his adopted family, and then, hopefully, in the future, with his birth father. These are things God does. He does it for those He loves, and God loves Travis.


The article, “Dancing with God” in November Expressions was not wri�en by Susan Hicks, MFT, though she loves it. The author is unknown. Hoping for December snow! Page 2

Christian Encounter Ministries is a non-profit, nondenominational, residential program helping 16- to 25year-olds by providing love, spiritual guidance, high school education, counseling, and 24hour supervision. Internships are offered to qualifying upperlevel college students and graduates. CEM is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountibility, and all gifts are tax deductible.

Spin and Win, Saturday, February 5, 2011—noon to midnight!

It’s one part exercise, one part fundraiser, and one part party! Riders powering through the twelve-hour stationary bicycle marathon at Grass Valley’s Monster Gym in the Raley’s Shopping Center on Freeman Lane will spin to good music with professional instructors and have multiple chances to win great door prizes! The mid-winter event is a terrific way to jump-start your Agony training, or to spend a day doing something fun to benefit the CEM kids. Phone, write, or email the Ranch to reserve a bike for an hour ($15) or for the whole twelve hours ($150). The Grand Prize will be all-day lift tickets for four at Northstar-at-Tahoe!

New website—coming

soon. Former intern and computer whiz Trent Thacker has been building the new site which will have a whole new (easy to navigate) look— with lots of added features. Estimated completion date: December, 2010.

CEM students share secrets

Don’t know what to give for Christmas this year? Wouldn’t you like to know what your kids really want (that you can afford)? Are you tired of giving the latest techno gadget that becomes obsolete before you can pay it off? Then let the Christian Encounter students be your personal shoppers. Here’s what they said the perfect Christmas looks like to them: 1. Being with family 2. Hot chocolate next to a roaring fire 3. Christmas music… “Mary, Did You Know?” 4. Looking at lights together 5. Baking cookie-cu�er cookies 6. The smell of a “real” tree 7. Decorating the house 8. Christmas stories 9. Snow 10. Gingerbread houses and candy canes 11. Waking up at 5 a.m. on Christmas Day 12. Reading Scripture 13. Staying in pj’s all day long 14. The family all together Nobody gets everything they want for Christmas, but most of us could give ten out of these fourteen gifts and have change left over for a trinket or two. The finest Christmas gift can’t be bought, sold, wrapped or refunded. It is the gift of love… Alfred Montapert

A former student remembers

Reflection Refraction: The Ranch By Michelle Alva

We used to say “time for reflection/refraction” at the Ranch as a joke after our Tuesday/Thursday devotional times. And lately, the Ranch is all I can think about, so I guess I’m reflecting and refracting on my time at the Ranch. I get flashbacks of long walks singing to Jesus on the way to cleaning the pigs, or hard talks late at night. I’m flooded with memories of laughing and silly moments, of creative concoctions with all the random donated food, the long prayers before a meal, and fishing in the pond. I’m reminded of people that I normally would have hated, but was forced to learn to love deeply. I can remember crying in counseling after realizing life’s problems weren’t always my fault. I remember the drama students, the silly relationships. I’m reminded of watching people see things in a new way. I remember seeing the walls that broke down in others. Freedom reigns in my memory. I saw (like the song says) chains broken and lives healed. Often, when I think back about my time at the Ranch, I see that everything was perfect. But those good moments didn’t happen unless they were coupled with screaming matches, scars that kept on being made, and the absolute brokenness found in each of us. The Ranch gave me the opportunity to be broken. It was okay that I didn’t do everything right, that I had bad relationships in my life, and that I didn’t know how to forgive. The environment allowed me to be me, right where I was at…not where I wanted to be. It allowed me to be in my brokenness. It was painful and hard, but it was a breath of air that I never knew I could breathe. When the pressure of trying so hard to be a “good” person is removed, we are raw and real. From this point we can start to face our problems and deal with them––no ma�er how ugly it might turn out. I didn’t know it was possible for people to love the way love takes place at the Ranch. These people had to put up with my sorry, mean, obnoxious, arrogant, rude, self-centered a�itude day after day for months! And never once did they give up on me or tell me I was a waste of their time. Student after student would enter the program and immediately feel this love—so much so, that no one leaves the Ranch untouched or unloved. That’s the kind of house I want one day, where people enter and know that there are no pretenses, but that they are loved just for being who they are—even in their brokenness. I’ve just been filled with such gratitude for what I learned and experienced. My heart used to be so clu�ered with dirt, pain, and anger. God was just another person I let down. But the Ranch showed me that God wasn’t disappointed with me, but was in love with me. God plucked me out of my environment where I couldn’t grow or live. And He brought me to the Ranch, where I could really find life. And life was not in coping mechanisms like drinking, drugs, or boyfriends. Life came in facing my issues head-on and trusting that Jesus washed me white as snow. If I hadn’t been so abruptly taken from my circumstances and environment, I don’t think I would be si�ing here today. Not that my life was so horrible before, but I would have eventually go�en sick of surviving––giving up always sounds easier than the struggle. God didn’t want me to keep on surviving; He wanted me to start living. God profoundly interrupted my meaningless life, just to get my a�ention. Just to save me. Clearly, He has a purpose for my life.


Christmas is celebrated at the Ranch from the very first of December and culminates in the banquet and party before the winter break.

2010: Almost gone!

You can maximize your 2010 tax savings while enabling CEM to survive these grim economic times and to continue accepting non-paying young people into the residential program! To qualify for this year’s tax deductions, gifts of cash, securities, and life insurance policies must be received or postmarked by December 31, 2010. Check with your tax advisor for other options—a gift of real estate, a business or family foundation, a donor-advised fund, or a long-range donation through your will or living trust.

Thanksgiving turkeys New bunk beds, dresser, end tables Privacy screen Photo paper 18 new frying pans 14-gallon gas can Walnuts, produce, coffee, pastries, cocoa, snacks Lots of pumpkins Clothing Kitchen items Ping-pong balls


Be�y Crocker and/or Be�er Homes and Gardens Cookbooks Wool socks—large College-ruled paper Hot cider packets Sports bars Cross-country ski equipment Archery supplies Page 3

Just as “iron sharpens iron,” this group of unlikely allies challenges one another.

Christian Encounter Ministries PO Box 1022 Grass Valley, CA 95945



May the giſts of the Holy Spirit—like packages under the t�ee—fill your life with joy and meaning as you ex�erience, and share with others, the love of God.