"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Monday, January 31, 2011

Holy Spirit or Madison Avenue? (1st of 6)

The Story of Flying H Youth Ranch   

     "We are experiencing a severe financial crisis. If you can enclose a special gift of $25 or more--"  It's one more appeal from one more Christian ministry. You already give to some; you don't even remember asking to be included on this one's mailing list!
     As your hand hovers over the wastebasket, frantic words underlined in red catch your eye: "We need to hear from you! Even $10 will help."
     Reluctantly, you put the letter back on your desk.

     What methods are Christian organizations using to raise funds? Those of the Holy Spirit--or Madison Avenue? What motivates us to give to these organizations, God or guilt?
     What would happen to a mission which actually let the Holy Spirit move people to give when and as much as He willed, without any human arm-twisting?
     In 1962, G. Allen Hires, a minister with a wife and eight children, agreed to help Youth for Christ set up a week-long camp for delinquent boys in the mountains outside Yakima, Washington. They ended up establishing the Flying H Youth Ranch, a year-round ministry for boys who are referred to them by welfare agencies and juvenile halls.
     It was the policy of the staff never to tell anyone but God their needs nor to solicit funds. Faith had worked for George Mueller, who founded an orphanage in England a century ago. But--here in America in the 20th century? Allen and Freeda Hires determined to find out.
     Here is the account of that experiment as told by the Rev. Hires:

      Freeda and I had only $50 and no prospect of more when we made an offer on a beautiful dude ranch in the Cascade Mountains. The Lord brought in the money for the first month's rent the night before it was needed and continued to supply until we were able to purchase the property.
     God gave us the ranch and the State of Washington gave us teenage boys. How they gave us boys! Years later they told us, "We gave you the worst delinquents we could trust to be out in the community and sat back to see how you would make out."
     We started with 15 boys. Bit by bit we began to see the deeply hidden anger in these young men who had been rejected by family, school, authorities, and society. Many of them came to my office to talk. Often a boy and I would cry together as he finally faced the fact that he was not wanted by those closest to him. When by myself, I would pray that the children would know they are wanted by someone besides the police!

(To be continued)

Today I am thankful for good foster homes.

1 comment:

  1. I'm hooked, can't wait to read part 2. There is a lot of guilt based fundraising going on... even inside the churches... a lot to ponder. Looking forward to the rest of this story.