~ THE STORY ~
Birth of a vision...
In 2014, as we sat in church on a regular Sunday morning, longtime friends of ours, Jimmy and Cindy Thompson, were sharing about their recent mission trip to Texas where they worked with a long-term restoration home for victims of human trafficking. The place they visited used horses to help in the restoration process. As they were sharing, Chris and I both began to cry. The Holy Spirit had awakened something in us that we didn't even recognize yet. We began to support their vision of bringing a similar ministry to Virginia, thinking at the time, that we would possibly manage the horse farm aspect.
Preparing our hearts...
AND MAKING ROOM FOR HIS PLANS
Around the same time, the Lord began to prepare Chris for the day when he would retire from his position at the Albemarle County Police Department, the county that surrounds Charlottesville, Virginia. Chris mentioned it to me a couple of times and each time I would have an almost visceral reaction. I felt nauseous at the thought of losing our main source of income with our growing family to support.
Sell your home...
AND SHOW US A NEW WAY TO LIVE
Early 2016 brought us our first big leap of faith. In the middle of what most Americans would consider The American Dream, God spoke again and told us to sell our home. As scary as it was to think of leaving our home of ten years, we were starting to outgrow it and we thought we were just moving to a slightly larger home in another suburban neighborhood.
God had better plans than we could have ever imagined and just in the nick of time, we found a beautiful home to rent on a farm with people who have become our family and have helped God show us a more connected way of life.
Time for change...
THE SECOND BIG LEAP
In the fall of 2016, we were still supporting our friends with their vision to start a long-term restoration home and horse ministry for victims of human trafficking (True Mission Virginia). Chris and I decided that we should look into what exactly a horse ministry is. We spent an afternoon googling, learning, and feeling excited about the possibilities. That Sunday, after church, Chris fervently prayed and asked God if a horse ministry is what He is calling us to do. God confirmed that and told Chris he needed to quit his job as soon as possible. When he told me what God shared with him, it was the first time that I had absolutely no hesitation about that decision and we immediately wrote the resignation letter. Chris had just passed the 20-year mark as a police officer with the Albemarle County Police.
In 2015, I graduated from nursing school as an RN and began working at our local hospital where I worked for about one year. When Chris retired, and we lost his income, I was offered a management position at a local nursing home with a significant pay increase. After 5 months at the nursing home, however, the Lord had made it evident that the Becks were to focus on their family and learn to depend on Him completely for provision. I left my job to, once again, be a stay home Mom with our children.
Sharing the journey
WE HAVE A NAME...AND A WEBSITE
In December of 2016, as friends, family, and our church family began to hear about the vision God had given us to start a horse ministry, everyone was curious about the journey we had embarked on. What started out as a personal journal quickly became a website with a blog so that we could share the story God is writing with our lives.
Living & Learning
AND LEANING MORE AND MORE ON OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
2017 was a year of learning for the Beck family. We went to Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, OR, for a 4-day clinic on starting a horse ministry. At home on the farm, we learned how to tend to hay, our oldest child learned how to operate all manner of farm equipment, we learned about gardening, caring for dairy cows, Chris learned to ride horses, and we were joyfully expecting our fifth child. Most importantly, Chris began an internship with a local ministry called Love INC, and learned about running a ministry from an insiders perspective. We were invited to share our story at our home church and God started to awaken the same vision in some of our friends.
Building a foundation...
WE HAVE A TEAM
This is God's ministry and to be true to Him, we learned that it must be built on three key things:
Rooted in the Word of God
The leading of the Holy Spirit
March of 2018 marked our first, official, Risen Ridge meeting. Through prayer, brainstorming, role-playing, and discussion, He has given us the Mission Statement, the Vision statement, and the values.
As of July 3, 2019, Risen Ridge Ministry is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit!!!!!!
We have a location!
In late February 2019, Chris, Jen, and Risen Ridge were featured in an article on a local facebook page. Within 4 hours of the article being published, a woman contacted us about potentially using their farm for the ministry. They have always had a heart for ministry and hoped to use their farm for such a purpose someday.
The Miller family has lived on the property for several years but have never used the horse facilities. They are really wonderful but need a bit of life breathed back into to get them ready for the ministry.
We got to work!
By the time the early summer had rolled around, much work was already underway. A site was leveled for a round pen, the exterior tack room door and door frame were replaced, the interior tack room door and hayloft door were spruced up and a chalkboard wall was added between the doors, fill dirt was added to the stalls, the arena was tilled and ready to go, a 75' section of 3-board fence was installed, and electric tape was added to the top of the perimeter fencing in the front pasture.
Our first ministry horse!
In mid-June 2019, a woman named Joanne called Jen. She had a horse that she thought should be used in ministry to help people heal through Jesus. Specifically, people struggling with PTSD and veterans. She had been praying about donating her boy, Socks, to a ministry for two years! When she heard about Risen Ridge, she knew it was where he needed to be. We went to visit him a few days after our phone call and the call from the Lord was so clear that we picked him up the next day and he became the first ministry horse for Risen Ridge Ministry!
Socks is a 19-year-old, 15.3 hand, Tennessee Walking Horse. He was loved and owned by Joanne for 15 years! He is extremely peaceful to be around. He truly seems to enjoy being groomed and cuddled. He is also sound and safe for beginners to ride. You can read more about Socks on his page, here.
A herd of three
In late July, Maple joined Socks. She is a 13h pony of unknown breeding. Risen Ridge Ministry adopted her from Hope's Legacy Equine Rescue in Afton, VA. You can read her story on her page, here.
In November, Dezi joined the herd. She is a 15h QH who was also adopted from Hope's Legacy Equine Rescue. Her story can be found on her page, here.
We had plans...
THANKFULLY, GOD HAS BETTER PLANS
Early 2020 was a time of intense preparation. We held a day-long strategic planning meeting in January and created a great to-do list to prepare for opening Risen Ridge Ministry to the community. In March, we held our first volunteer orientation. Then the COVID restrictions came and OUR PLANS were put on hold. Thankfully, God knows all things and we were blessed with the extra time to plan and prepare. In early 2020, the round pen was finished, one of the run-in sheds was built, the office was built, the tack room was finished, a stall was transformed into a utility/feed room, and a porch was put on the barn. Not to mention an operations manual and a lot of great and practical equine education.
(The photos below show the BEFORE images. Hover over them to see the AFTER images.)
As we move through the second half of 2020, there are great things on the horizon. Our sessions are slowly starting and as we learn and grow, we are raising up other session leaders so that Risen Ridge Ministry can accommodate many more people in the spring. We have plans for a grand opening in the spring of 2021.