Last Thursday I finally had the chance to visit Wildwood Hills Ranch and see my friends Matt, Mark, and Emily in action. Wildwood is a beautiful 400-acre ranch, set in the scenic hills of Madison County. It is truly a remarkable place.
The ranch exists to transform lives by providing healing, hope, and God’s unconditional love to “at-risk” children around the state. They offer a free summer camp and year-round retreats with first-class facilities and activities. From the moment the kids step onto the property they are immersed in a fun, safe environment where character, leadership, and teamwork are modeled and taught.
The camp counselors teach new life skills and the kids begin to build the confidence necessary to transcend their current impoverished, abused, or neglected environments.
On Thursday night I had the opportunity to get to know some of these kids and a little of their story. We did archery, leather crafting, team-building games, and roasted s’mores by the bonfire.
That night, once the kids were in bed and the lights were turned out, I read the Easter story. I told them about Thomas and his doubts about the resurrection. I asked the kids if they had any doubts and this led into an incredible discussion about faith and God’s unconditional love, even in the midst of their pain.
I don’t know if the Easter story has ever felt so real to me as it did in that moment.