I was in my office when Deaconess Stephanie Wilde, Spiritual Life Coordinator on the Fargo Campus, came to my door and asked if I’d met the new girl, Ivy.*
“Yup,” I replied. “She took a walk with me and Sydney the other day. Why? Is there something going on?” [Sydney is a Ranch therapy dog.]
“Yes,” Stephanie said with a beaming smile.
Once she told me the story, I asked her to write it down so I could share it with you. It was a powerful experience for both Ivy and Stephanie, and it’s good for you to hear it firsthand. Stephanie wrote,
Just a few days after Ivy came to the Ranch, she asked if she could meet with me to pray. We set up a time to pray together and this morning we met in the chapel. She told me today was the first anniversary of a friend’s death and then said, “I’ve never prayed. I don’t know what I am doing.”
We started talking about prayer and what it was. We talked about the Lord’s Prayer, which we say every week in Chapel, and about other prayers she had heard at the Ranch. She then asked if we could write a prayer together. Of course, I told her we could.
For the next 10 minutes, she wrote out a prayer of her own making with small prompting questions from me such as, “How would you start it? Is there anything you are asking God to help you with?”
She then turned to me and said, “You mean my prayer doesn’t need to be perfect.”
“No,” I told her. “God just wants us to pray to Him and talk with Him. Talk with Him like He is a friend. You can’t mess it up so there is no need to be nervous.”
She then told me that when she came to the Ranch she considered herself an Atheist and hated anything to do with God.
But now she is confused, excited, and nervous, along with a few other emotions. She is happy that God opened her heart. She is grateful she feels safe and that there is a God who loves her, no matter what she has done or what has been done to her. She said she was still wrapping her head around that one!
And then, we prayed her prayer together.
Every child who comes to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch has had a different experience with God, religion, and their own faith. Each child will take their own steps while they are with us. Some will be revelatory, and some will be questioning.
For Ivy, talking with her new friend, Jesus, is a great big first step!
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
*Name changed to protect confidentiality
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