AIYM High Adventure Camp "God Story"
Do you like “God stories?” You know, the really good ones that have miracles in them. If so, keep reading! If you don’t have time right now, save this for when you do! The Lord wants us to testify! (Lk 8:39) And what is a miracle? Webster’s defines “miracle” as; an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.
In 2009, the Lord put it on my heart (1 Cor 2:10) that we were going to have a summer base camp in southern Colorado for adventure based “Christian ministry”. I was not overly enthusiastic about this new revelation since I had not yet completed a single project “He” had already placed on my “to do list” from the summer before while crossing the Nile River in Uganda. I clearly remember sharing this bit of news with Melony and a handful of close friends. I said “Lord, you will have to do the leg work on this one since I’m already overloaded with all the “other things” you want me to do.” Things like starting a 501(c)3 non-profit youth ministry and filming a group of kids on a mission trip while rafting down a river in Utah which I totally did not understand at the time. (Rom 11:34) I came to learn God’s timing and Jim’s timing are not the same. (Hb 2:3) At least I was not wandering around in the desert for 40 years like someone else we all know!
In October 2010, we finally received “approval” for AIYM (Adventure In Youth Missions) as a tax exempt non-profit ministry from the IRS. “Praise the Lord” and pass the biscuits to Susie Smith of ABT Solutions for all of her hard work in submitting the 36 page application! In June 2011, we were filming “the” Utah mission trip with a bunch of kids working alongside Ameri-Corp and rafting down the Green River! (1 Pt 5:6) Later that summer Melony and I took a short sabbatical and went backpacking along the Continental Divide Trail in southern Colorado. We spent our time in prayer asking God to help us get the Utah film edited and to guide us to the next trail in our lives. (Jas 4:2) If it was a summer base camp somewhere in Colorado he would have to show us the way because we had absolutely no leads or tinglings on which way to go! Little did we know what was going to happen! (1 Jn 5:14-15)
In June 2013, Melony and I spent the month serving as missionaries in Kenya. We returned home in July to a pile of bills and a long list of chores. By August we were looking to escape the Texas heat by heading up into the mountains of Colorado and finishing the studio narration of the Utah film with “True Sight Media” in Denver, CO who we had contracted to edit the film. At the last minute they called to say “we are running behind schedule, don’t come up!” Our hearts were already set on going to Colorado and leaving the Texas drought behind. We loaded our Jeep with camping gear, our dog Scout and headed north! We camped by a beautiful lake high in the mountains near Platoro, Colorado, which is in the heart of the Rio Grande National Forest. We spent our time simply relaxing, praying, and meditating on His Word. (Ps 119:105) One of our last prayers before packing and heading home was a recurring one. (1 Thes 5:17) It was the prayer for God to show us His will regarding a summer base camp. (Heb 11:6) We eased the Jeep down the steep and winding mountain two track to the main forest road below. Turning left (south) meant familiar territory as Mel and I had visited Platoro before when backpacking the Continental Divide Trail. In addition, my family used to summer vacation there along the Conejos River some 40 years before! To the north lay uncharted lands, adventure and discovery. For “some reason” we turned right! (2 Cor 5:7)
We soon found ourselves descending through Alamosa Canyon, across green grassy meadows, through stands of quaking aspen and sweet smelling blue spruce. Ahead, a thunderhead flashed a pillar of fire, its powerful voice ricocheted off the rock bluff that lined the canyon’s rim. (Ex 13:21) Otherwise, the sky was a deep blue and the sun winked at us as we drove beneath the forest’s canopy. The white waters of the winding Alamosa River raced us down the mountain to the San Luis Valley below. At some point we broke out of the shady forest and into a beautiful meadow lined with wildflowers and red roof cabins. The shimmering waters of the river reflected the sun back into our eyes. Melony who was riding “co-shotgun” with our dog Scout suddenly pointed an accusing finger and announced “Look, a dead horse!” I squinted my eyes and sure enough there in the middle of the meadow lying next to an abandoned flagpole lay a dead horse. The horse’s feet were stiff and outstretched like some sacrificial lamb ready to be tied! (Gn 22:8) Probably struck by lightning, its unapologetic pathetic posture almost seemed comical at 30 mph as we flew past in a cloud of dust. Melony glanced up in time to read a sign above the gate that read “something ?? Youth Ranch!” My mind suddenly began to race as we continued 25 miles further down the canyon and rolled to a stop at an isolated intersection. An old, dilapidated wooden sign hung obscurely to our right. It read “Mountain Trails Youth Ranch.” I said Mel, take a picture with your iPad. Little did we know, God had just led us to the next trail in our lives! (Prv 3:5-6)
Texas was still hot and dry, just like we had left it the week before. We re-loaded our Jeep and headed west to the Fort Davis Mountains to guide a predator hunt. While the nights were spent chasing illusive coyotes and bobcats, the days were spent searching the internet for “Mountain Trails Youth Ranch.” Two weeks and a couple of emails later I received a phone call from the lady who ran the youth ranch! She said that she had just buried her dad and what did I want?! She patiently listened to the first part of my “God story” and when I finished speaking there was deafening silence. Then in a low voice she said, “I think you’re an answer to our prayers!” (Rom 8:28)
As it turns out, she and her husband, who has heart problems, had just recently moved from Colorado after 35 years of living there. In fact, 3 days before we drove by the ranch they had just removed their personal belongings before moving to Alabama to take care of her mom and dad whose health had been failing. Unfortunately her dad passed shortly after their arrival. She said they had been in prayer for the Lord to bring a Christian couple to the ranch that would continue a Christ centered outdoor ministry there. She said she believed Melony and I were that couple. She told us they did not own the property but leased it for twenty years. She said she would contact the man who owned the property for he lived out of state and somebody in his office would hopefully be calling me. About this same time we received a phone call from True Sight Media asking me to drive up to Denver to do the “voice over” narration to complete the Utah film. It was mid- September when I walked into the studio in Denver. I finished the narrations and approved the final edits well ahead of schedule so I called Melony to see if she could arrange a tour of the ranch for me. The aspen were beginning to turn yellow and gold as I stepped upon the ranch for the very first time. The Spirit emanating from the property was unmistakable! (2 Cor 3:17) I walked around the property and took many photos. Afterwards, I prayed for the Lord’s good and perfect will to be done as I drove back to Texas. (Mt 6:10)
A few days later I received an email from True Sight Media with a link and password to “Vimeo” so that I could watch the finished version of our 60 min Utah Mission Trip on my computer. They said the Master DVD was being sent FedEx and “good luck.” The following day I received “the” phone call that I had been praying for! It was not however the owner of the property in Colorado but his “comptroller.” She introduced herself and said the owner traveled extensively between his many offices located throughout the United States and was rarely in the main office. She said that she would be the one gathering information to present to him at their next board meeting. She then began asking me a multitude of questions, grilling me like a drill sergeant, all business. At the end she said “do you have a web site for your ministry?” I said no, not yet but we do have a Facebook page. She then said “do you have a brochure or some literature you can send us?” I said no we don’t, not yet anyway. My brain raced as I could feel the interview slipping out of my fingertips like a dropped pass in the end zone! As the terrible feeling of failure and hopelessness spread through my inner soul I happened to glance at my computer screen. A light flashed in my brain and I said “but I do have a DVD!” (Phil 4:19)
A little while later we received an exclusive lease to conduct ministry focusing on “making disciples” (Mt 28:19-20) along with restoration and preservation of families through Christ centered teaching (Col 3) on this several hundred acre ranch that has a trout stream through the middle of it and is surrounded by 1.8 million acres of National Forest to explore. We signed the lease on behalf of AIYM (Adventure In Youth Missions). The term of the lease is 15 years and the consideration for the lease is $1.00 per year! (Jer 29:11—13) (Ps 77:12-14) How great is our God!
Just as the Lord placed “his will” on Nehemiah and his followers to rebuild the stone walls that once protected Jerusalem, He has placed His will on this ministry to raise up boys and girls to be men and women of God, (Prv 22:6) and to restore the “broken walls” found in so many families today. God hates divorce. (Matt 19:4-6) Satan’s will is to steal, kill and destroy us and our families. (Jn 10:10) He wants America to redefine God’s word. (Rev 22:18-19) Through outdoor ministry filled with adventure in His cathedral, the mountains of southern Colorado, we will minister God’s word to children, youth, families and fathers. But we need “Godly men,” and we need “Godly women” right now who will “step up” and place their shoulders together with ours as we lean forward in this endeavor! There is much work to be done. We are in immediate need of; construction volunteers, building supplies, funds for scholarships, prayer warriors, and monthly partners who will be there with us to meet the ongoing needs of this ministry. (2 Cor 9:6- 15) All contributions are tax deductible and will be greatly appreciated by the children and families who will find healing, purpose and direction for their lives through your generosity and the love of Jesus Christ. Please consider yourself invited to join with us!