Who We Are
Karen Downer

Karen Downer

Similar Ministries Assistant
Session Instructor

Gresham, OR

I first heard about the ranch when Kim came to share the ministry with our home church in Gresham, Oregon. I was powerfully impacted by the testimonies of  God using horses to connect with youth in unique ways. As tears flooded my eyes, I realized that my first horse—a gift from my Great-Uncle—was just what I’d needed to give me a purpose, a dream and a hope to survive my teen years, before I met Jesus.  In my early twenties, I came to know the Lord and eventually served in various ministries within our church. Those times of serving were very rewarding, but as our pastor encouraged us to really seek the Lord for our calling in ministry, I realized He was opening my heart to seek a ministry with youth and horses. So, my family and I purposed to connect with Crystal Peaks to learn more about their ministry.

In 2005, we attended our first Annual Hoe Down, which deeply touched our whole family. We were so blessed by the joy and friendliness of the staff and those who attended. The love of Jesus was clearly present at the ranch. We played crazy games, danced and had a wonderful BBQ dinner. Then Troy and the team led worship and teaching from the Word  as we sat in the grass on a warm summer evening, staring at the beautiful view of the Three Sisters Mountains. It just couldn’t get much better for me. As a result, we’ve returned each year for the Hoe Down, an event we wouldn’t want to miss.

Then in 2007, I attended my first Information Clinic, with the encouragement of my wonderful husband. When I returned home, my husband noticed a difference in me. I was filled with life, excited about the future, and dreaming and praying about starting a similar ministry. Over the course of several years of praying about this, we began to hear the Lord calling us to move to Central Oregon. Our heart was to support the ranch in the way the Lord led us.

Finally, the doors opened for us to move to Bend in 2011. I initially worked at Crystal Peaks as a Full-Time Volunteer in 2012 and 2013. Those two years were amazing years of serving the Lord in this ministry. I’ve been so blessed and impacted by relationships with the staff, youth and families who come to the ranch. At the end of my day, I may be exhausted by the day’s activities, but I leave filled with joy because of the special way the Lord works in each of the children’s lives. 

In 2014, I was accepted into a position at the ranch supporting the Similar Ministry department. I’m very excited about this role, as I have attended several clinics over the years and each has been so rewarding to prayerfully support. It’s a joy to be a part of other people’s journeys around the world as they seek to start the ministry the Lord has laid on their hearts. 

Who is your favorite horse at the ranch?

For me, it is really hard to pick a favorite horse. God has created them each with unique personalities. It is so fun to show the children in sessions how to nurture trust with our rescued horses. Each one has their own fears and struggles that are very powerful in ministering to children. But I will have to say in all my years of working with horses, Zephyr is one that has a spirit of joy! He is the happiest horse I’ve ever encountered and he is such a thrill to ride.

What is an interesting facts about you?

As a young girl, I had an opportunity to ride horses with a chimpanzee. It was such a fun, yet unusual experience to look next to you and see a chimp riding his own horse. All I remember was riding with him out in a pasture, and that he had a striped shirt and pair of shorts on. I wish someone would have taken pictures of that day—it would be fun to reminisce and see the expressions on our faces!

What do you love about Central Oregon?

Our family loves outdoor activities such as camping, trail riding, hiking and kayaking. Central Oregon weather is perfect for it all. 

Also, since living in Central Oregon, I have seen the most absolutely beautiful sunrises and sunsets, unique cloud formations, and amazing frost formations, called Hoar frost. I’ve seen it snow when it’s sunny, due to distant snow clouds. Each day in the High Desert of Central Oregon is a gift from God and His tapestry is breathtaking.

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