Rev. Rick Jones, our Chaplain and Vice President of Spiritual Life, shares a daily devotion with those of us who work at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Having grown up on a farm, one of his recent devotions really resonated with me so I wanted to share it with you. As my dad used to say, “Every living thing will respond to love.”
"The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." —1 Corinthians 12:21-26
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t ride a horse until it’s been broken?” This phrase is supposed to refer to breaking the arrogant, prideful will of the horse. Unless the horse trusts and respects you for direction and care, it will not obey you. It will work against you and fight you. It will do whatever it wants even if that is not helpful or safe. So, if you want to ride the horse, you first have to break it of its rebellious nature and teach it to rely on you for its greater well-being.
I have been taught by someone who does amazing work with horses, that this idea of breaking horses is very outdated and not nearly as effective as techniques that instead focus on positive reinforcement. Apparently, a horse is more likely to develop an attitude of respect and trust when it is treated with care and compassion.
This more effective way of care, called trauma-informed care, is exactly what we do with our residents at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Our kids have known the hard approach to life. Their circumstances have already tried to break them. It doesn’t make them more successful, it just makes them broken. Instead of more punishments, we offer compassion, patience, and grace. We give them the love and care they haven’t known before. We give them the unconditional, unrelenting love of Christ. The same love that led Him to the cross to die for all humanity leads us to be patient and supportive even in the midst of our resident's violent outbursts.
We do not break our residents, we love them. We do this because it works. It is necessary. It leads to a better relationship of trust and respect. And God does the same. The verses above from 1 Corinthians describe this process.
Some of us will be given a hard lot in life. Everything does not always go our way. We make mistakes. We experience damaged and unhealthy relationships. We are given hard trials and struggles we are forced to endure. We are presented with the broken reality of our sin-infested world. But God does not abandon us to it. He does not just hand us over to sin to experience pain and torment. No, instead He sends His Son to experience the same suffering. Through the unconditional and unrelenting love for us that God demonstrates in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we are given special honor; we are provided with incredible care. With Christ, we are not broken, we are loved.
Thank you Chaplain Jones for reminding us what we are called to do, and that God is with us every step of the way.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
Your Thrivent Choice Dollars® can be used to support multiple organizations each year. At the Ranch, we use all Thrivent Choice® funds for our Spiritual Life Program. Your support is vital in giving our precious children the foundation of faith they need to thrive. To direct your Choice Dollars® to the Ranch, simply go to Thrivent.com/thriventchoice, login, and choose Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. To direct Choice Dollars® over the phone, call 1-800-847-4863 and say "Thrivent Choice," after the prompt. The deadline is MARCH 31st, so direct your Choice Dollars® today! Thank you for your continued support of our ministry!
LEARN MORE ABOUT DAKOTA BOYS AND GIRLS RANCH
Sign up today to receive ministry updates and stories about our precious kids directly to your inbox!