Not long after we moved onto the reservation one of the students that was attending our home bible study came slowly riding down our street on horseback. A completely awesome picture of a way of life I wasn’t accustomed to. Before I could even think, this good ole’ city boy asks, “hey Kayla, you should let me ride your horse.” I’m not even sure if she answered me as I hopped up on the horse and put Austin (my 10 year old son) snuggly right behind me and we were off! I had this nice idea that we would ride down near the river and then head back. The 10 minute ride down was classic. Me….and my son riding on the rez, could it get any better than this? When we turned around to head back and all of a sudden some bothersome dogs began barking at the horse. And that wasn’t really a problem until they came closer and relentlessly nipped at the horses heels. So, as the horse picked up a little speed I thought, ”yeah, great idea horse…we’ll just run away from the dogs.” But I soon realized the horse and I were mis-communicating as he kept going faster, and faster….and faster. I couldn’t get him to slow down and in a short time he was in a full sprint. This was bad. We could barely hang on. Little did I know that it would get even worse. In a full sprint this horse tucked his head down and shed my boy and I like horse flies. So here we go, flying forward onto the ground going at least 150 miles per hour. And as we are tumbling in the dirt I see the silhouette of this 2000 pound beast go flying over us both…his hoof landing inches from the chest of my son.
Oh, my goodness...my first thought was to see if Austin was breathing (I hardly could). When we finally established that we were still alive I began to wonder where the horse ran off to and how upset Kayla might be that her horse ran away! So, we limped home. As we were nearing the house I saw Kayla coming down the road. I told her, ”Kayla…I’m so sorry! Have you seen your horse?”. She informed me that the horse was safe and at home. And so I asked her, “ have you ever had problems like this with your horse…has it ever done this to you?” And without much thought she says, “ I don’t really even know the horse that well…I just got him yesterday and when you saw me, I had just gotten on him for the first time…”.
What? I tried to explain to her that she should have told me that BEFORE we got on! A little heads up or something, you know? Unbelievable experience!
As I think about it, this is how Apache Youth Ministries got started…we just jumped on! And sometimes it’s been smooth riding and other times we’ve sprinted, and….even been tossed a few times (And no, I won’t pull out the cliché about getting back on the horse when you fall off. I know that Austin and I didn’t that day!) And in this ministry, that serves the Apache, we have always sought to humbly love and walk alongside those that God puts in our path and serve the Lord with everything that we have. And God continues to do amazing things in our midst. It’s a beautiful and amazing ride with Him at the reigns.
God has certainly blessed our organization and, more importantly, given us favor among the Apache over the years. We have worked with hundreds of teens in different ways. As you know, we even continue to see hundreds every month come through our youth center! In 2004, a year after our youth center opened up, we began to ask the question, “how can we resource students in need even further?” We would see students come into our youth center, and participate in our studies, but have to go home to an environment that didn’t coddle them or resource them to be all that God had created them to be. The sin (that so easily entangles) was snatching them. We began to dream about getting some out and resourced.
The Homes For Hope model began when Darcy and I started taking kids into our own home and loving them as a part of our family. After all, isn’t this what we all want? Love and acceptance. Homes For Hope didn’t “officially” start until a dear 16 year old student of ours (one we were very close to) went to her closet one February afternoon and hung herself. One of the most painful things I’ve had to endure. You can check out a short story I wrote, a day or so after her death, you can read it HERE. This program, in part, was named with her in mind. She had so much potential, and we could have gotten her out.
Currently we are blessed to have another sweet girl in our home as a part of our family. I wrote a short story about her too…read it HERE. Over the years, and through the homes of some awesome partners, we have resourced a handful of kids, intervening in their lives to give them love and hope for a future.
I always dreamed that this would be able to take place near to the rez so that these students would have some contact with their loved ones. Over the past few years house prices have been so high that this has been unobtainable. But now we have an incredible opportunity to grab a home in Pinetop. It is a “fixer-upper” that would meet, hopefully, our need to get another student out, but at the very least a need for staff housing. God has blessed us with an amazing team. Some of our staff do, and always will, live on the reservation. We have to be a part of the community by being there 24/7. But not all of us can. Pray for this project. We have already raised over $70,000!!! Amazing! Whether it’s through this home, or others across the nation…I can’t wait to continue to experience the feeling of seeing God’s people come together to help those that He loves be completely resourced so that they can achieve and be empowered to impact the world in return!
If you’d like to know more about the status of the home we are looking at buying please go to THIS LINK (* some of the figures have changed, we are currently considering offering $81K or less for the home). Or, you can contact me at 928-521-3588 or firstname.lastname@example.org .