Dear Friend of Lonesome Dove Ranch,
Originally this communication was going to be a simple celebration of what happened at camp this summer as a result of your generosity, God’s grace, and the tireless efforts of many people. Although I will include one amazing testimony at the end (we will send more testimonies of life change and the impact you’re making in upcoming correspondence), this update was stirred by some incredible and miraculous events that have recently unfolded. I wanted you to hear it from us before you hear it through the grapevine.
In my last correspondence, I hinted about this update in the “P.S.” part of the letter/email. Things are now official, so let me make one of the most significant announcements in the history of this ministry. First, let me give you some backstory.
In 2015, when we purchased and moved all our camps, events, training, and ministries to our current property, you could not see another house in any direction. It was wheat fields and countryside as far as you could see; a rural ranch that provided refuge, rest, and Sabbath for ministry leaders and exploited children. But now, as a result of the Texas housing boom and suburban sprawl, the environment is drastically different. We knew it would happen eventually. We just had no idea it would happen this fast.
The fastest growing single-family development in the country for the last several months is the neighborhood being built at the ranch’s front gate. It consists of one thousand homes with concrete curbs, HOA’s, community pools, elementary schools, and more. The rest of the land around us has already been sold to developers or is currently under consideration for development. In a matter of months, Lonesome Dove Ranch will look like Central Park, an out-of-place green belt overran by suburbia.
While development in the community is beneficial in many ways, it negatively impacts the ministries and services we provide at the ranch. Over a year ago, as Haley and I saw the tidal wave of development coming, we quietly began to ask God for direction. Shortly after we started praying, we were approached by a family that wanted to donate a ranch that was twice the size of our current location! Their desire was to significantly multiply the number of children we are able to serve. They had no idea of our needs or our private prayers. Their generous hearts were simply responding to a nudge from God.
After much prayer, a conversation that started a year ago was finalized on Friday, July 8th, when ownership of the new ranch was officially transferred to the Watertower Network, the charity that owns and operates Lonesome Dove Ranch.
I realize this announcement raises more questions than we have answers. We have no idea about the timing of any kind of move. We are in no rush. God is obviously in charge of this story, and we are committed to letting the Divine Author write the next chapter, just as He has every other chapter of this ministry. Haley and I are simply grateful to God and some incredibly generous people so that when the time comes, we now have a place to expand on the dream to serve broken-hearted children and under-resourced leaders.
Due to time and space constraints, there are so many details I’ve had to leave out of this letter that further reveal the unmistakable fingerprints of God on these developments. Enough so that we are willing to trust Him with the current unknowns. However, I do want you to know that the board of directors of Lonesome Dove Ranch recently decided to list the existing property simply to test the market. In the event you or someone you know would like to fund the development of the new ranch, we will utilize both properties without selling the current one. In the meantime, we will see what value and interest exist for our current location.
Just know, if you hear rumors through the grapevine, we are not stopping anything, but expanding everything! More hope offered. More lives changed. More hearts healed!
As a way of expressing our gratitude to you, we share a letter we recently received from an adoptive/foster mom. Her words are more powerful than anything I could write. She shares how anyone who has given or served to make Lonesome Dove Ranch a reality has not only changed her kids who attended camp, but also impacted their whole family. Make sure you read her letter that accompanies mine.
With deep gratitude to an incredibly generous God and His equally generous people,
Dr. Bryan Jarrett
A Testimony of Gratitude from the Landers Family
I have waited a bit to write this because I wanted to have some specific time to sit down and say all that I’d like to. Let me start by saying THANK YOU!
Thank you to those that had this vision.
Thank you to those that find all the resources.
Thank you to those that organize it all beforehand.
Thank you to those that meet you at registration and pick-up.
Thank you to those that go to camp- the helpers, the crew, and the counselors.
Thank you to those that donate their time and resources.
We have 4 biological children, 3 children adopted through foster care, and one foster child (our adopted children’s 8-year-old sibling). ALL 10 of us benefited immensely from this camp. This was our first year, so we had no idea what to expect, but man, did this exceed anything we could have imagined.
My husband and I were given a reprieve that we didn’t know how much we needed. We slept more soundly than we have in 11 years. We went out to eat without being anxious the whole time. We ate meals at home in peace and had a lovely calm conversation with our other children. We had time without therapy or doctor’s appointments. We didn’t have one item in our home broken. We didn’t have any child hurt another with their words or hands. We didn’t have any children hatefully yelling at us. We took a walk without incident. I went to the grocery store without constantly checking a child’s pockets for items they were trying to steal. I finished paperwork that has needed attention for weeks. Our biological children had their parent’s attention in a way that they haven’t for the last 11 years and they NEEDED it desperately. They lived in a world of peace and calm that has alluded them. The list could go on. We LOVE our children…ALL 8 of them…but God knew we needed this break to refuel for the next year, and YOU loved the Lord enough to be His gift to us by giving us that break.
And most importantly, our 4 children were given the gift of being loved on in the most amazing ways. I was astounded at the love we were shown at registration. It was organized and clear that our children were going to be taken care of. These kiddos have never been to camp because they never could go to a typical camp. We can’t afford a special needs camp (we can’t even afford a new van or to own a home!), or individual sports teams or expensive vacations, so alllll that was poured into these 4 was absolutely eaten up by them! They RAVED about allll of the activities. One LOVED the horses, one LOVED fishing, one LOVED the water slides, and one LOVED swimming. They all loved the jet skis, fidget making, art room, outside games, food, individualized everything (absolutely incredible), dancing, and fun!! They went on and on about the birthday party and their GIFTS- what?! Who goes to camp and comes home with gifts?! And gifts they absolutely adored and felt soooo proud about. Truly amazing.
Two things I am most grateful for are:
1- how well the individual counselors and crew loved on each child. They were so amazingly loved and cared for and they FELT it. Their individual counselors gave them the individual love and attention that they need but hardly get in such a large family. They felt special, important, and VALUED — which is so very important for them.
2- how well they were pointed to Jesus. I sat at the pick-up program with tears streaming down my face (trying desperately to get it together!), knowing that Jesus had loved them through the faithfulness of His people to care for the least of these. I was BLOWN AWAY at how well you loved them with the love of Jesus. You made them VIPs in a world that would much rather not deal with the baggage they carry. I write this through a fresh set of tears because I spend so much energy apologizing for their behavior or pleading with God to help me know how to love them through the hard- and I saw them SO LOVED FOR WHO THEY ARE because of their value as Christ’s image bearers and with no judgment for where they struggle.
I cannot express how truly grateful all 10 of us were for this gift. Thank you thank you thank you. To say we all look forward to next year would be a gigantic understatement.
The Landers Family