The Ministry of Reconciliation

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:17-21

If you were to ask most Christians what their primary marching orders were a great number would rightly answer with (Matthew 28:19-20) a.k.a “The Great Commission.” However, I have always thought of (2 Cor 5:17-21) as our best example of how to go about doing that.  Think of it this way, the Great Commission in a sense can be compared to a vision statement, which sets clear goals for the future whereas a mission statement focuses on the ways and means of reaching that vision.  Therefore, our end goal is to make disciples of every tongue, every tribe and every nation but we are to do this by first imploring them to be reconciled to the Father through the person and work of Jesus Christ, i.e the Gospel.

So then what does reconciliation mean? The common definition of reconciliation as it relates to relationships is 1) The restoration of friendly relations. 2) The action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

We see from this definition that the words restoration and compatible are part of reconciliation. However, the root of reconciliation is the word conciliation, which is the action of stopping someone from being angry. When we have reconciliation, it means that we restore our relationship to one that enables us to be compatible and friendly with one another again.

In the Old Testament the word reconciliation is the Hebrew word kapar, pronounced kaw-far. This is one of the most theologically significant words in the Bible. In addition to reconciliation, kapar is also translated into English words such as forgive, purge away and merciful as well as a few others. By far, the most commonly translated word for kapar is the English word atonement.

When the word atonement is broken down to its historical parts (a-tone-ment) it means a condition without tension. When Christ died on the cross for us, He removed the tension between us and God (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.) His shed blood, reconciled the conflict between us and the Father. With this in mind, reconciliation has its Biblical foundation in the atonement of Christ.

Friends if there was ever a verse that encapsulated the heart of this ministry it is this one. We implore, beseech, plead and sometimes beg these boys to be reconciled to both God and their families. Through prayer, mentoring, counseling and teaching we show these boys what it means to be forgiven, what it means to be accepted and what it means to be loved.

Every single one of our boys comes to us with a history of broken relationships and every single parent leaves them here with the hope they will find forgiveness, peace and restoration in our Lord Jesus Christ. However, make no mistake the road to this program was paved by pain, disappointment and even anger.

I have never been more reminded of this fact than this past week at our Father and son campout. A weekend designed to reconcile relationships through Christ but within the context of a fun, nonthreatening environment. As I watched the weekend unfold the tension which was so obviously present between some families slowly but surely disappeared as Father’s and son’s put aside the things which brought them there and simply enjoyed their time together in an amazing setting deep in the Washington wilderness. There was worship, the preaching of the Word, breakout sessions designed to get families talking, snowboarding, campfires, snowmobiles, atv’s, skeet shooting, hiking and a host of other activities all intended to relieve the hostilities between Father’s and son’s. For the boys either who have no father in their lives or whose dads were unable to attend we had more mentors than mentees ready to jump in and fill the void.

Overall, it was the perfect ending to a month, which witnessed two boys giving their lives to Christ and one rededication! This is why we are here friends this is why we exist. I cannot begin to thank all of you enough for your prayers and financial support. It is through your generosity and your continued faithfulness that my family enjoys the awesome privilege and responsibility of being His ambassadors on your behalf.

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Please keep us in your prayers as we have been battling sickness as well as exhaustion with Trish’s pregnancy.

P.S the weather here is crazy but we have tapped our inner Eskimo and have survived the worst of it.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all.

In Christ, the Wagner’s

Proof of Identity Please?

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So often in many situations in life we are required to show proof of identity, at the Bank, writing a check, picking up our kids from Church, in an accident, at DMV, or when traveling to a distant land.  Who are you?  Where did you “come from”? Where do you live?

The ranch has been buzzing with movement as we prepared for Thanksgiving.  I got blessed to be asked to help teach the boys culinary class in preparation for this meal.  It is amazing to me how much quality time you get with them in the kitchen.  They really seem to be willing to share things they normally wouldn’t around the other boys.  A comment was made by one of the boys that pierced my heart, he said “What does it matter? We are just ranch boys”.    As this young man grapples with his identity, I had to pick the pieces of my heart off the floor.  I had to chew on his comment for a while, process all that this one little statement contained, and when the moment was right take hold of this wonderful opportunity for evangelism.   “You are precious, you can be forgiven, you can be saved, you can have hope, give your life to Christ”  and in doing so the only proof of identity you will need to enter  Beulah Land is the blood of Christ!

  Isaiah 62:4; “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah and thy land Beulah; for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”

O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land!

As on thy highest mount I stand,

I look away across the sea,

Where mansions are prepared for me,

And view the shining glory shore,

My heaven, my home forever more.

                                                                         Edgar Page Stites

Richard is busy at work Shepherding and counseling staff,  mentoring a boy,  and maintaining all Administrator functions, as well as carrying a part time seminary load. Whew!  That made me tired just typing it!  I would ask that you would join me in praying for his strength and that we would be filled with grace daily to balance all of this with family life.  I am still in awe that he does it well.

Another prayer request is for our mentee who is having moments of victory and then moments of tremendous set backs.  The new kid on the block and him have forged a friendship, which is wonderful, unfortunately misery loves company and the relationship  is proving to be a great distraction to him.  The boys are getting ready to go home on two week leave, pray they take the “program” home with them and make good choices.

Our children are doing wonderful and are loving all this snow!  They got to go with us on the GPA trip to the trampoline park with the honor roll boys.  I love to watch the boys take my kids under their wings, and to watch my kids minister to them in friendship. Abby got JR Olympic times at the last swim meet and Gabe is well on his way.  Lots of hard work has finally paid off!

I would also ask you pray for our truck, with 16 inches of snow it is not a wonderful time for it to decide not to work.  As some of you know this vehicle has given us a lot of problems.  Pray the electrical problems can be found and fixed so we can have 4 wheel drive.  We quickly learned in the last two  weeks we MUST have 4 wheel drive.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us in this ministry.  Daily we are hard at work for the cause of Christ, Your prayers are felt and we thank you!!!

Your Sister in Christ,

Tricia, and family

Pushing the Limits…..

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Imagine, if you will, being fatherless.  Most of us take for granted the tremendous impact having a father has made on us.  The character and unspoken lessons he taught us;  more than just catching a ball.  He taught us courage, pushing through limits of pain, teaching us how to train our minds to blow past limitations.  These lessons happen organically in a father-son relationship.  But you…your missing this.  This is the story of one young boy at the ranch.  Before he came to us he suffered headaches that would keep him from attending school.  He didn’t know how to push past the physical pain, let alone the pain he carries in his heart from being fatherless.  As I was reading through his 8 day survival hike journal, I noticed some very exciting things.  The boys are asked daily how they are doing physically on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being exhausted.  Each day his number grew in exhaustion, they hiked farther and farther, and food became scarcer and scarcer.  On day two the question was asked “what was the worst part of your day?”  He replied “Walking up a very steep hill, taking breaks when needed to, but kept pushing myself.”  Day three, same question, his answer, “My stomach hurts a lot.  I just kept going like nothing was wrong and eventually it stopped.”  Day five “Not knowing if I would be able to start my fire.”  The days to come would only deliver more exhaustion.  On the eighth day his response struck me.  The question was asked “What have you learned on the 8 day that you will never forget?”  His response welled tears in my eyes “If you push yourself to do the impossible, it will no longer be impossible.”

There you have it, the essence of the 8 day hike. God so mightly working in the hearts of the boys by tearing down strongholds and barriers.  This kid proved to himself that he could be brave and that he could succeed even when his body and mind turned against him.  While this young man wrestles through the grief of being fatherless little does he realize the best father of all is pushing him and MAKING him brave by showing him he is capable of far more than he ever dreamed.

I get so excited watching these kids walk through new situations.  This is why we do what we do friends, this is what it’s all about.  Please continue to pray that God would make himself so real to these boys they can feel Him breathing on them.  Every single boy who comes through ours doors, God has something for.  Thank you for partnering with us and making times like these possible!

A brief update on whats happening around campus and prayer requests;

  • We had two boys graduate!!!
  • We’ve had the privilege of hosting the majority of the boys at our home.  Those times always are so fruitful.  Please continue to pray for our times with them.
  • We got our first mentee!!  The funny thing is, entering this relationship you think you’re the one that’s helping the boy but soon realize God is healing parts of your heart through this kid as well!  Continue to pray for him and us as we help him grow in Christ.
  • The deep-sea fishing trip is quickly approaching.  Pray the staff would be fishers of men!!!!
  • Fall Family Resolve is coming, please cover this event with prayer.  Christ is moving in hearts here, thank you for your support!

In Christ,

Tricia and family

 

 

HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE

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The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Ps 34:18

Dear friends and family,

Praise

What an incredible few months it’ been! The Lord has proven Himself faithful, again and again providing for our every need, loving and encouraging us along every step of the journey and oh what a journey it’s been. Thank you so much for your prayers and support, as I am pleased to say, the move could not have gone any better. By the grace of God, we made it to Washington safely and were welcomed by both the boys and the staff to our new home.

Upon arrival we were blessed to participate in our biannual Resolve conference, a program designed to help parents connect with their children. During this time, we witnessed the Holy Spirit moving in a variety of ways, providing healing for both parents and their children along with siblings and other family members as well. By the end of the conference several boys had expressed their desire to stay on at the Flying H, well beyond the required 18 months, in order to finish High School at Hope Academy. What an incredible testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in these boys lives as He has completely turned their attitudes around from a place of rebellion to a heart of submission and thanks!

Moreover, we were blessed to witness the stirring of one mother’s heart, an unbeliever, as she admitted her need to rely upon God. I ask that you would pray for this unnamed mother and her son as they both are in desperate need of His saving grace. It is obvious the Lord is working in both of their lives as this same boy has gone from absolute noncompliance to a workable attitude within our program. How amazing would it be if this young man’s turn around would be the mechanism/witness through which the Lord saves his mother!?! We have a lot of work ahead of us but by His grace and with your prayers we are off to an amazing start. What a blessing it is to serve Him, I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for us as we walk this journey of faith together!

Prayer

I ask that you would continue to pray for us in the following areas: 1) the boys – we have several boys who by their own admission do not believe, I ask you would pray for their salvation – for the boys who do believe, I ask you would pray for an increase in their faith, 2) the staff – we are in need of an English teacher as our current missionary is preparing to retire within the next year – we are also in need of a youth service staff member with past experience/expertise in automotive mechanics, 3) the Wagner’s – discernment and leadership for both Trish and I as well as continued good health for our son who suffers with type 1 diabetes.

Thank you some much for your prayers and support, we are blessed beyond measure to be on mission with you!

Serving with you for His glory,

Richard, Tricia, Gabriel, Abigail, and Elesha

 

 

When The Floodgates Open!

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“Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10

It’s happened friends!  Through your gifts and Tithes the floodgates have been opened and we are on our way to a golrious journey!

For weeks we hovered around 35% funding and then when the gates flung open, boy did they open.  Our last trip to the Ranch is when the pieces fell into place.  Through the help of our friends and the help of Quail Lakes Baptist Church CA, Battle Ground Baptist Church WA, and Vistoso Community Church AZ we are so proud to announce WE ARE FULLY FUNDED!  Life is currently moving along to the sound of tape guns and bubble wrap.  Our offical move date is June 13th.  We appreciate your prayers as we travel and adjust to our new life.

From the bottom of our hearts we want to thank you for your support!  If it was coffee dates, prayer, baby sitting, monetary, or helping spread the word….Thank you. For those we leave behind; we love you, for those we yet to serve; we are honered.  I could write pages about our excitment to minister in this capacity.  We were created for this, our life has been an often painful but necessary part of making us ready for this ministry.  All points in our history have prepared us for this day and we are blessed to call you co-laborers.  We hope you are blessed by our journey.

With The love of Christ,

Richard, Tricia, Gabriel, Abigail, Elesha Wagner

In The Sheep Pen

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It’s Been seven months since our family accepted the call to be Missionaries at The Flying H Youth Ranch. With God showing us so clearly our place there, we thought certainly we would quickly be whisked away into His service and all would go as We planned.  Seven months later and we all feel like sheep stuck in the pen!  We are just waiting to engage in the adventure God has planned for us.  Support discovery is going much slower than we anticipated, but we trust in His faithfulness.

Every Monday one of the beautiful women who has been serving at the ranch for a few decades, communicates to me ranch prayer needs. This weekly communication helps my heart stay connected to that place.  In our conversation today I told her we are growing anxious to begin serving The Lord in this way.  At the end of the conversation I said “Maybe the lesson is to just enjoy the process…”

““Why is patience so important?”
“Because it makes us pay attention.”
Paulo Coelho

You have my attention LORD!

Our family is excited to take a trip back up to the ranch this April and reconnect with the ministry that is so dear to our hearts!  We are excited to be able to attend the staff retreat where we, for a brief time get to feel involved in this ministry we hold so dear.  We ask that you would continue to pray for us, that we would enjoy the process!  That we would pay attention to what it is God is working out in us. That we would be sensitive to His leading us to new supporters.   As much as I know He is preparing US, I am confident he is preparing the ranch as well.   Thank you for holding us up in prayer!!!

Tricia Wagner

 

(As always if you have any questions or would like to communicate with us privately you can email us at flyingwagners@gmail.com)