I recently returned from our annual ministry partner retreat at Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, CO where we invited our ministry partners and a few others to bring their families for a week of fellowship, fun and rest. A few months ago, I wrote about the purpose of retreating, which in summary means to withdraw so the Lord can advance towards us. That is the purpose of our week with our partners at Wind River Ranch: to spend some time resting so that God can rejuvenate and even speak to us.

Our theme was “Flourishing: Ruach at the Ranch.” Ruach is an Old Testament Hebrew word that means “wind” or “breath of God.” Our partners and the other ministry leaders who attended all are facing similar visions for, and challenges within, their common context of urban ministry. And all of them desire a chance to breathe, and feel the Ruach of the Lord. Throughout the week, our devotion time and activities were focused on sensing the Lord’s presence, and persevering by leaning on God’s strength. Many wonderful conversations took place as the leaders shared with each other their hopes and challenges, and were able to play alongside their children in safety.

Although I could speak of many times where we sensed Ruach, I will share a letter we received from one of our partners, Ben and Stephanie McLeish from St. Roch in New Orleans. It says it all:

Dear DSM Staff,

We are so thankful to you for your care of our family. Our time at WRR was such an amazing gift – a grace from God that he used you to provide. Sweet family memories were created, a needed break from work/New Orleans was provided, and we were reminded of the gospel as our true place of rest. Our kids truly thrive at WRR and it gives us such joy to see them so free and so happy. We feel so spoiled having been given 5 summers at the ranch. Thank you.

The return to the valley has been tough. We had four murders in our neighborhood just last week, two of whom were youth. My dad is having to move to a nursing home at age 68. But I really appreciated Don telling us to stand on our porches at home and see the beautiful view here too. I do love New Orleans and I do know that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:10). The Lord is at work in my neighborhood and in me and this is a lovely view. Thanks for giving us a mountain top experience and thanks for your prayers and support of us in the valley.

Much love,

Stephanie and family

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