“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters…use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13 (NLT)
In the summer of 2020, Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch experienced a monumental event in its equine history. The treasured matriarch of our herd—the horse who started it all, Kim’s beloved C.L.C.’s Freedom, also known as “Ele”— passed away at 29 years of age. Through her rescue in 1995, a foundation was laid for the horses who would follow. For a quarter of a century, in her unique way, Ele shared the saving hope of Jesus Christ with multitudes of other horses and humans who were in need of rescue.
Ele was the cherished figurehead of our ministry. Her departure marked the end of an era—and—the dawn of a new season. Waiting at the threshold . . . was the next generation of horses in need.
In the days that followed beloved Ele’s passing, a woman contacted the Ranch. Due to personal health complications, she asked if we would be willing to adopt her treasured horse. The dear owner explained the mare’s prior history of abuse in an unscrupulous breeding program. Born with a beautiful tri-colored pattern across her body, she was targeted by the greed of men. Her coat pattern exhibited to all that she could guarantee this stunning reproduction into all her offspring. While far too young, she was bred repeatedly. This form of abuse left permanent physical damage. The weight of carrying too many pregnancies too early in life were apparent in the collapse of the supporting structures across her midsection. At only 14 years of age, her back and belly exhibited the irreversible sway of a much older horse.
Even so, the mare was still breathtaking. The unmistakable willingness in her spirit reflected a brilliant inner beauty that far surpassed her flashy coat. Through a prior rescue mission, the abused mare was delivered into the woman’s committed and skillful care.
The tone of the conversation changed when our new friend on the phone spoke of her own increasing medical struggles. Through great sadness and even greater bravery, she shared how she was no longer able to offer the active life and attention her cherished horse deserved.
After time spent together, our staff fell in love with both the compassionate woman and the equally compassionate horse at her side. Without delay, adoption papers were signed and a new tri-colored Paint mare was scheduled for arrival at Crystal Peaks.
The day finally came for the stunning horse to step off the trailer and into her new home. As if to take it all in, she stood still. In trusting curiosity, she looked across her surroundings with a soft expression. Several staff members made it their mission to come and welcome the most recent addition to our herd. With quiet confidence, the kindhearted mare gently followed her leaders forward—into a new calling on her life—the call to ministry.
As only Jesus can arrange—the timing of this astounding gift—couldn’t have been more perfect.
To honor the legacy of C.L.C.’s Freedom (Ele), and to capture the testimony of redemption hallmarked within this mare’s journey through life, we renamed our new warrior, “Freedom.”
With the arrival of this humble horse, the torch of hope passed from one generation of equine ministers to the next.
Freedom’s story also serves as an emblem of an enduring promise;
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor. 3:17, NLT)
True freedom is found beyond simply receiving rescue; it is attained by inviting the Spirit of the Lord Jesus into our lives. When God’s Spirit—the Holy Spirit—dwells within us, it is impossible to idly sit on the sidelines and watch others perish in suffering and bondage. HIS heart for rescue and redemption becomes our heart.
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13, NLT)
The freedom Christ offers is not for selfish gain—but for self-sacrificing love to others in humble service.
Many who come to the Ranch have experienced the horrible grasp of abuse, exploitation and greed. Many have no experience knowing unconditional, self-sacrificial love. And still more do not understand they are worth the priceless blood of the Son of God.
For these precious children, this mare called Freedom reflects this powerful truth – In Christ, there is hope . . . there is FREEDOM . . . freedom from ALL brokenness.
Because of her adoption into the Ranch family, Freedom’s journey reminds us of our own adoption into God’s family. Through her indomitable love and support of those around her, she demonstrates how we can each choose to embrace the hand of Jesus and leave behind our painful past. Mirroring the day she came to the Ranch, her powerful example declares how we can each choose to follow our Leader, Jesus Christ into a new and enduring freedom. And through His freedom within us, we can extend His hope and rescue to those around us.
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