I could never have imagined or expected the dramatic ways the Battle River Ranch Camp has impacted my life. My name is Joel and I recently graduated from the ranch. I’m 31 years old, and for years I struggled to find my place in the world; that place where I could get up every day and feel like I was a living a purposeful life, making a meaningful contribution in the world around me. You see, I have ADHD. Many people are familiar with the label, but for people like me, it just makes it harder to get through every day. I struggled through high school and in fact the diagnosis didn’t come until after high school. When concentration is a struggle, contemplating a future is difficult. You just live and work hard to get through every day. I had various jobs; I worked in a call centre, worked as a warehouse representative, and before I came to the ranch, worked in a chicken hatchery. Every job taught me something, and I worked hard to be a good employee and do my job well, but I hadn’t found my God-given gifts and talents. Not having any experience with skilled trades, the idea of pursuing one just seemed far-fetched and odd to me.
Then my grandmother heard Harold and Diane give a presentation about the ranch at her church. She called my mother, my mother—who sensed instantly that this may be God’s providential plan for me—called me. After learning about the program, with the support and encouragement of my parents, I gave my employer 2 week’s notice and a short time later I moved to the Battle River Ranch Camp. And what an amazing experience it was for me!
The ranch is located in a fabulous rural Alberta location, where life is simpler and the pace slower. There are no distractions so it’s just a more peaceful and restful environment. It was cool to wake up every morning and work right where you live, where each day is a new and different day. Oh sure, there was a sameness as well…morning chores about the ranch; feeding the cattle and the horses, sometimes milking the cow, but the training was always a different experience. One day I was learning how to operate heavy equipment, digging a trench for electrical cable, another day carpentry, or electrical. I spent time working on plumbing projects through Guardian Plumbing, and tried my hand at welding. Turns out, I loved the welding. Who would have known? Certainly not me! Without the opportunity to attend the ranch and try my hand at the various skilled trades, I doubt very much that I would have discovered the skill that the Lord had placed within me.
One thing that was interesting, was that as I was working on various projects at the ranch or out in the community, I sometimes found myself working with other graduates of the ranch, guys who were now ticketed journey men working in their fields and giving back to the ranch or the
community. That’s pretty cool.
At the ranch, I lived with and under the daily mentoring of Ernest and Shannon. It was like being a part of a family. With living accommodations and meals provided, I could just relax and focus on what God had in store for me through this experience. Ernest is a thoughtful and skilled mentor— and not just when it came to the trades. We had meaningful Bible studies and discussions where I was challenged to reshape my perspective about who God is and how He wants me to live for Him. It was an incredibly enriching and rewarding time.
The thing that really attracted me to the ranch and that really worked for me, is the individualized training. It is amazing to see how I and others have changed and live different lives after our time at the ranch. God uses the ranch to ignite something new in people if we’re humble and allow Him to work.
I just wish that more people would jump on board and support the ranch and the trainees! It’s a fantastic facility with great people that God has used in a powerful way in my life.
I am now employed at a welding business in AB, enrolled in an apprenticeship program. In the journey that I have been on this past year, I can see how God has challenged me to grow and mature—always challenging me to deepen my faith and trust—and then providing. I left my home province and the closeness of my family which has been hard in some ways, but rewarding in others. I can see how I have grown and matured. God, by His grace, is teaching me a lot. I live on my own. I’m not relying on my parents. I have found a good local church with a supportive small group. I don’t take life for granted, but see that every aspect of my life is in His hands daily.
I’m astonished at the changes in my life. The BRRC has been a HUGE blessing in my life. I know I wouldn’t be the same person without going to the ranch. It allowed me to hone my skill, ignite my passion and discover my gift. Please help them continue to provide a place for people like me and all of the other trainees who have gone through the program to go.