The 12 men who arrived at the Blaylock Ranch in Junction, Texas, weren’t really sure they wanted to be there or what to expect. They came for a variety of reasons, some wanted to restore their walk with Christ, others were angry at God and the world around them, and some had an active walk with Christ but wanted to grow.
The place they were to spend the next 5 days is the Blaylock Ranch in Junction, Texas. The verse above the kitchen reflects the love, care, hospitality and servant’s heart that resides within the saints of Blaylock Ranch: “you have refreshed the hearts of the saints” Philemon 1:7. They truly live out that verse. All this to say, the hospitality that the Blaylock’s, Chapman’s, and Shellhamer’s displayed this week is a big part of what the Lord does through whatever group comes through their retreat center.
Kevin Schroeder started the Texas Legacy program by pulling out his “Go Bag” and describing what he usually has in it. As a LEO, he carries emergency medical, communication, and a handgun or two and ammo. However, this time he pulled out 3 feet of heavy chain. The heavy chain that binds us to our sins: our past that may be full of hurt and pain. Kevin challenged the 12 men sitting there with what all Mighty Oaks Legacy programs challenge the men with: “If what you’re doing isn’t working, why not DO something different?” As the different Mighty Oaks instructors got up and taught their classes sharing what God has done in their life, it became evident that the change in each of the instructors was nothing short of a miracle of God. God transformed them from men who were angry, bitter, and hopeless to men who found hope in the saving relationship with Christ. These testimonies spoke volumes about God’s faithfulness, and His love for His creation. It was an incredible gift to be able to witness God’s work on hearts of stone; men who were dead came alive in a new or renewed relationship with Jesus Christ. Where anger at God and others once resided there was now hope and forgiveness; both sought and given.
The week was also full of Quad riding, kayaking, fishing, going for walks, and nightly drives to the top of the hill to make phone calls home. The camaraderie that was achieved was exciting to see and be a part of. Part of the tradition at Blaylock ranch is the “required” request for rain during each meal. It’s a fun part of the Blaylock’s ranch!
Before breakfast on Friday morning, we all sang the beautiful hymn; “It is Well with My Soul” by Horatio G. Spafford (1863). There is an amazing story behind that hymn, and it was wonderful to sing on this beautiful Friday morning. On that Friday, there were smiles, lifted spirits, hope and a new brotherhood. We made our way down to the river and 6 men were baptized. An incredible moment of beautiful ceremony where we were able to rejoice in these men’s public profession of their faith in Jesus Christ.
During the graduation charge by Kevin, he reminded everyone that the chains they brought no longer held them. The men who graduated were new men; men with direction, hope, purpose, and filled with Holy Spirit who would be their help in their walk with Christ. As the men prepared to leave they were reminded to consistently read the Word, to be in fellowship, prayer, and stay connected with their cornermen. The message throughout the week highlighted the victory Christ has had in the lives of the men who accepted His free gift of salvation.