DreamCatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue Outreach Before the Pandemic
Submitted by Pamela Schuetz – Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Clermont, Florida
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, eleven people, including Boy and Girl Scouts as well as five members of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, ventured out on March 8, 2020, to the DreamCatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue for an outreach opportunity. This group of willing participants was eager to get to the ranch and begin painting a newly erected fence for the rescue horses. Little did we know that life as we knew it was about to change forever and that this outreach event was to be our last for quite some time.
After we had signed in with June, our contact person, we were instructed by Ryan, the foreman of the job, as to how to go about painting this huge fence. After his explanation, we donned our gloves, grabbed our brushes, filled our mini hanging buckets with paint, and found our places on either side of the fence. It was a breezy, overcast day; perfect for painting! As we finished a section of the fence and moved to another, not having to adhere to the 6’ social distancing rule, we had the freedom to chat and get to know the various members of the “painting crew.” As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work,” so we had completed our task in about 3 hours.
After having served the DreamCatcher community, we wandered around the ranch, listening to the crowing of the roosters, petting the cats and goats, and feeding and petting the rescue horses that were in their stalls. One horse in particular caught our attention. His name was Highway the I-75 Miracle Horse, because he had defied death four times after having fallen out of a horse trailer while on Interstate 75. Although severely injuring his right front knee and sustaining road rash and bruises, he was rescued and taken to a local vet who performed surgery on him. By the grace of God, Highway survived and continued to improve with each passing day. Eventually, he was adopted by the ladies who own DreamCatcher. Highway’s story made its way to a local newspaper and he has become somewhat of a legend around the ranch.
Among the many conversations that took place that day at the ranch, one involved Ryan, who had just quit his job because he no longer felt fulfilled as a person. Consequently, he was taking some time off to do volunteer work at the ranch while thinking about his next career move. Rob, a former Eagle Scout and current Scout leader, was there to model what a good father looks like, spending time with his three sons as well as encouraging them to follow in his footsteps. Ruth, a recent widow whose husband of many years had entered eternal life in December, had decided it was time to begin serving her community again. Since she’d always had a penchant for horses, this service project was a perfect fit for her. As for me, I had always dreamed of living on a horse ranch, so I was living my childhood dream that day, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the ranch.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Mathew 18:20. The volunteers were not alone at the ranch that day. God was with them and when God is involved, there’s always a “bigger picture.” The day became more about the individual needs of the participants than the fence they had been commissioned to paint. The “bigger picture” always involves God’s unconditional love for His children and His omnipotence, knowing everything about them: what’s on their minds, what’s in their hearts, and what’s in their souls.
Imagine a huge chess game in the sky. Like the pieces on a chess board, God moves His children around so that they meet the right people at the right time who will say or do something to influence them in a positive way. Knowing each of our personal desires, God placed us at DreamCatcher Ranch that day in order for us to gain needed insight about ourselves.
With the pandemic in full force for over a month now, we realize how fortunate we were to squeeze in the outreach opportunity at DreamCatcher. We were carefree that day. We were not worried in the least about how close in proximity we were when we painted the fence or took a group photo. The thought of wearing face masks and gloves to the ranch never crossed our minds. In the throes of the coronavirus and forced into isolation, people across the world are missing many aspects of their lives that they took for granted: their freedom of human contact, their freedom of spending time with people they love, and their freedom of going anywhere they please.
But as sure as I know that my Redeemer lives, I believe that there’s a “bigger picture” here for us to consider. In the midst of adversity, the world came to a standstill and the opportunity to reflect, reevaluate and renew presented itself. We’ve discovered that no one is in control except God. He is always there to take us by the hand, walk with us step by step, and guide us through to the goodness He has in store for our lives. Amid the tragedy of so many people worldwide dying horrible deaths due to the virus, we also witness God’s love reflected in the service of His people all over the world: innumerable people who could potentially sacrifice their own lives on a daily basis to defeat the coronavirus and innumerable people who are devoted to keeping our world up and running.
The God’s Work/ Our Hands Movement has been demonstrated throughout the world! With God’s grace, we will get through this chapter in our history and we will be better people because of it. All of us will be facing a “new normal” when a vaccine has been discovered for the virus. In the meantime, we have to follow the advice of Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
In other words, God’s got this. Amen!!