Ravencrest Now

Keeping everyone up to date on what God is doing in and around Ravencrest Chalet, in lovely Estes Park CO.

Homeless for a day

Erik Snyder - Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our morning started at 7:30 when the leader of BTM "kicked" us out of the church to experience what life is really like for homeless. Our goal for the day wasn't to pretend to be homeless and make a game out of it, but it was to realize what homelessness really was and what daily life looked like for those living on the streets.

So off we went, with no money or electronics in hand, only our three items we collected the night before, along with our sleeping bags. Within minutes of walking the streets, we started to see the judgmental glares from passing pedestrians. We split off into two groups of 6 and started our search for breakfast. One of the groups went to a Mission and waited in line for an hour for a breakfast made up of banana bread, bagels and coffee. My group on the other hand went without breakfast. We walked around for an hour until we came across a book store, where we wandered around for a few hours. By the time 11:30 rolled around our tummies were growling and we were ready to find lunch for the day.

We came across one of the many Missions Portland has to offer. We were so very thankful for the food we were served. Our other group took a different rout for lunch. They sat outside of a Safeway grocery store with a sign that read "Temporarily homeless. Anything will help. Thank you!" within 20 minutes they made $25. With that money they bought themselves bread and cream cheese and gave rest of the money to a homeless man.

Both of the groups day included wandering around, resting on benches, window shopping and sitting in libraries. We were exhausted, cold and our feet and legs were sore. After 8 hours on the streets, we were ready to be done. We met back at the church we stayed at the night before to debrief and talk about our day. Our views on homelessness were changed. By the end of the day my heart was broken for the homeless.

After living in a big city my whole life and seeing homelessness around me, I never once knew what it was like for them and never once had much compassion for them. What we went through in that one day was nothing like what they go through on a daily basis. Imagine going every day without someone genuinely caring for you, acknowledging that you even exist or even getting a "Hello, how are you doing today?". That is how it is for most homeless men and women. I know I couldn't go a day without having a conversation with my family or friends. This is their life. It's what they go through on a daily basis.

For dinner that evening we got to eat at different food carts. It was a fun Portlander experience. At 6 o’clock we started to get ready and prepared for something called Night Strike. It is an opportunity every Thursday night for members of Portland’s homeless community to hang out, enjoy a hot meal, receive a free haircut, have their feet washed and receive new clothes, shoes and sleeping bags. It was a really fun night to meet new people and serve them. It was also Night Strikes 10th anniversary. I'm so grateful that I was able to join hundreds under the Burnside Bridge that night.

It was a very long and tiring day, but its a day that I am so thankful for. My view on homelessness changed that day and my heart broke for them. I met a family where the husband had been on the streets since he was 16. He now is in his 30's and has a wife, 10 month old and a baby on the way. They live in their car. How would that not break your heart? They are raising their family on the streets and really have no other choice.

Something that really stuck out to me on this trip is how often I look at a homeless person on the corner of a street and think to myself how they are just lazy and could at least get a job at McDonalds. I never thought though of the process of actually getting a job. In reality how could they fill out an address, phone number, references or even past experience? My eyes were opened and my heart was broken once again about my judgmental spirit and attitude toward homelessness.

I was so thankful for this day and for actually realizing the reality of people living on the streets. There are 14,000 homeless people living in Portland, it is real and something has to happen to help it stop. The same Jesus that died for me, also died for all 14,000 of those people. Just because I have a job, live in a house and am blessed with incredible family and friends doesn't mean Jesus loves me more than anybody else. He loves homeless people just as much as He loves me. That's the great thing about His love; it doesn't matter what we do or have, He just simply loves us because he loves us. There's nothing that we have ever done or will do to deserve it. There is no difference to God between me and the homeless man down the street. We both are in great need of a Savior and simply need to ask him into our lives. Thank you Jesus for reminding me of that truth today!


Ravencrest In Portland

Erik Snyder - Friday, March 21, 2014

As the morning sun rose, cars and pedestrians were making a lot of noise outside, I slowly was able to open my eyes and I found myself in a small room, just big enough to fit 6 people in it. It is rather stinky, just the smell you would expect after a night in a room with guys who ate a lot of greasy cheeseburgers and pizza.

The morning started wonderful in the city of bridges and I wondered if the facility in which we spent our morning in, was already designed to make us feel like homeless people. One shower for approximately 20 guys, a bunch of noisy high schoolers, a lot of noise from the street, bus station and pub right next to the ministry.

As we went through our orientation, everyone was dead silent and attentive, ready for action or just deadly tired. We received our instructions for the day: drive downtown, meet in the local church, split into groups and start off with a prayer walk through the city.

My first impression of Portland did not let me down when it comes to their motto "Keep Portland Weird". A town full of hipsters, coffee shops, pubs, sex shops and as expected a lot of homeless people.

As a group of young people going through town, we were rather flashy due to the fact that people like us normally go out at night to drink party and enjoy the night life.

After our first prayer walk which was already quite eye opening, we started our scavenger hunt to learn more about this weird city: China Town", parks, and lots of soup kitchens.

Later that day we started our interactions with the homeless, giving out coffee, socks and sandwiches. It was interesting to see how the homeless reacted on the question if they have something which we could pray for. Some of them were rejoicing, happy to share that they are Christians themselves and following the Lord Jesus Christ even in their situation. This picture was really touching as we saw their faith despite their situation and this was actually a bigger help to us than we to them.

They asked us to pray for safety mostly due to the danger they go through at night with other homeless people being a threat to them, trying to steal their stuff.

Not all of them obviously were Christians. Some didn't want us to pray for them, just taking our items and wanting us to leave them alone.

Back in the ministry "headquarters" we had a quick debriefing and a surprise was given to us. We had to chose three items and leave the home, sleep in the church and fight our way throughout the next day being "temporarily homeless" for a day. And so it began.


Images by Matt Ashmead and Lydia Pike

Ravencrest Goes to Portland

Erik Snyder - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday morning we woke up to a great casserole breakfast prepared by Isaac`s mom. After that we Germans shot with an actual pistol for the first times in our lives, which was pretty fun. Then we had to say goodbye to the Buhler family to leave for Pacific City Beach. It is a beautiful and we enjoyed the view for quite a while. Some of us even went for a swim in the freezing water.

After that we finally left for Portland to start the part of the mission trip with an organization called Bridgetown ministries.  First we explored the city for a while and had dinner at a restaurant, then we met Ben Durham, the director of Transformation trips at Bridgetown ministries, who introduced us to the ministry.

A lot of the young people are stuck in a situation in which it is nearly impossible for them to get out of with their own strength. They are homeless, need a job, food, money... but no one is going to employ them due to their bad reputation and their just mentioned situation. They need a job to improve their bad living conditions and therefore their reputation but without having that they won't find a job, a horrible circle of which most homeless people never will be able to break through

We are excited for the next few days when we actually start our ministry here!



Images by Matt Ashmead and Lydia Pike

Ravencrest Goes to Hungary

Erik Snyder - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We spent 2 days in Tatabanya, Hungary practicing English with kids ages 14 to 19.  Then in the evening we had English clubs where we were able to have some pretty deep conversations and share the gospel with them.  We worked with around 1,000 students in 2 days the potential impact we had was massive. I pray God uses the seeds we were able to plant and grows them into plentiful fruit for his kingdom.

-Zach Rueckheim

Images by William LaHatt

Ravencrest Goes to Europe

Erik Snyder - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Traveling Europe has seemed chaotic to our team in ways, but even in the midst of chaos, God never failed to place joy in our hearts as we jumped from plane to plane and train to train. As all fourteen of us ran through the station to catch our train, with our suitcases dragging behind us and our backpacks jumping up and down, the fun in chaos seemed to have only begun.

The first city that we officially stopped in was Salzburg, Austria. We were all jet lagged and overly exhausted from our trip, but we stuck it out together and got to experience the gorgeous city of Salzburg. This city was the birthplace of Mozart so tourism was far from rare. The streets screamed the European culture as we would walk by stores, restaurants, and over an old bridge, which crossed over a clear, blue river. We then went to visit Tauernhof, a Torchbearers center in Austria, and then got to stay in a Bed and Breakfast in the Alps. After a small taste of Austria, we then got on a train to begin our journey to Hungary. After a few hours of seeing Hungary through the windows of the train, we stepped out onto true Hungarian ground and were greeted by Matt and Richie, our missionary hosts. Once we got settled into our hotel, we all walked together to Matt's house where we enjoyed an evening with his wife and three kids.

We ate our first bowl of real Hungarian goulash, and spent the rest of the evening fellowshipping in their living room. Our mission work had finally, truly, begun.

-Tori Campbell

Images, in order starting top left, by: Tori Campbell, William LaHatt, William LaHatt, and Sean Ewing 

A Day in Seattle

Erik Snyder - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On Sunday morning we were met with not only the typical, constant Seattle rain but also excitement as we would be spending a full day in the city after two days on the road. After eating breakfast at our hotel, we piled into our van and drove to Bethany Community Church for their morning service. The pastor at Bethany is named Richard Dahlstrom, who is a big supporter of Torchbearers and a frequent speaker at our centers including speaking at the international staff conference last June. He taught on Genesis 22 - Abraham offering Isaac. He made the point that its common for God to ask those who are available and willing to act to do hard things in order to increase their dependence on Him. It was a good reminder for us heading into this trip. It was encouraging to take part in a church service with the brothers and sisters we have in a completely different part of the country.

After church we headed to the William Booth center, a Salvation Army run men's shelter in downtown Seattle. Unlike some drop in shelters, which only provide housing for one night, this center provides permanent housing for the men until they are able to establish themselves, whether it be a couple of weeks or even years. When we got there our group split and half of us helped clean and clear their storage space while the other prepared, served and cleaned up lunch. Our interaction with the men there was limited and not very in depth but it was still a privilege to help out. After being there one of the students pointed out that it was eye opening to see that most of the men there didn't look like what they would have thought a homeless man would look like - another reminder to look past exteriors and appearances, in the same way God looks at us.

After serving we played tourist in Seattle. We went to an area called Fremont where we got a cup of Seattle's legendary coffee, walked down to Lake Union, and saw the infamous Fremont Troll. Following that we drove to Ballard, an area formerly known as the fisherman and boating hub of Seattle, where we went to a lock and dam and visited the local stores and boutiques while walking around in the area. Our last stop was a visit to a light house at Discovery park - a beautiful and giant park right on Puget sound. It was raining quite hard but standing above the water on the rocks and logs that made up the beach was a great taste of Seattle. We even saw a Seal.

Dinner was a highlight as we ate at Matt's brother and sister in law's house. It was nice to eat homemade food in a warm house after being out in the rain all day. It was an enjoyable, fun time of fellowship filled with the internationals talking about their cultures, jokes, and the shuffling skill of Mike Doble.

Our night ended with a visit to Kerry park which offered us an incredible view of Seattle's late night, lit up, skyline. The weather had cleared up by this point and It was ideal to sit looking out at the city, taking it all in. All in all, today was a good reminder of how blessed we are by our Father, regardless of circumstances.

- Matt Ashmead

Images by Matt Ashmead

Ravencrest Goes to Seattle

Erik Snyder - Monday, March 17, 2014

On Friday morning our group of eight students and two staff members took off for our Spring Break missions trip to Seattle and Portland. Day one was spent traveling through Wyoming, Utah and part of Idaho. For the morning portion of our trip the van was pretty quiet, with the students catching up on some sleep, reading and just sitting and enjoying the ride. That all changed though, when we ran out of gas about a mile away from a gas station. Praise the Lord for our fearless leader, Matt, who ran to get us gas. In the meantime leader #2, Lydia, held down the fort on the side of the road with snacks, mini photo shoots and lots of laughter. After almost an hour of waiting, Matt returned with gas.

For the next six hours we all marveled at the creativity of our Creator shown through the landscape and mountains of all three states we drove through. It looked as if we were driving through a National Geographic magazine. The God we serve is so creative in the way He displays Himself through creation.

    We arrived at The River Christian Fellowship Church in Twin Falls, Idaho at 9:30pm where we stayed the night. We ordered pizza for dinner and sat around a table to debrief and share our highs and lows of the day. Thankfully the lowest lows of the day had to do with how smelly the back of the van was getting. Most everybody's high was the views that we saw. It's crazy how we can be in awe of the mountains and think that they are the most beautiful and majestic things ever and yet our God looks at us and thinks the same thing. In His eyes we are the most marvelous and amazing things He has created. He looks past our sinfulness and sees His Son living in us. That is the beauty of the gospel; the minute Christ died on the cross He not only took away every sin that had ever been committed and will be committed, but that He chooses to forgive us and not remember the ways we have wronged Him. 

That is the truth that we get to share with the people we come in contact with on this missions trip.

Day two started with packing the van at 7:30AM and making a pit stop at Target and Starbucks. By 9:30 we were on the road again. We stopped in Downtown Boise at 12:00 for a stretch break. We were able to walk to the Capital, get coffee and enjoy the warm, sunny weather for 30 minutes.  Once we were back on the road, we didn't stop till we reached our Seattle destination. We got to our hotel at 8:00pm. That night we went out to dinner to Beth's Cafe and had a driving tour through the city by Matt. It was a perfect beginning to our time in Seattle.

- Lydia Pike

Images by Matt Ashmead, and Lydia Pike

Week in review March 2

Erik Snyder - Monday, March 03, 2014

Week in review

Sickness goes around quickly in a small community. The last couple of weeks took down many valiant students who braved it enough to be back on their feet, though there are still some stragglers who have yet to fully recover. Other than that, the week continued as usual with laundry day, a snowshoeing adventure, student ministries, and workday. The guest teacher last week was Charlie McCall covering 1st and 2nd Kings and relating the events of Old Testament Israelite kings to the trust we need to place in God in our own lives for big and small issues. If we trust God with the small things, we can learn to trust Him with larger things, and He will delight when we continuously place our dependence on Him.



- Brittany Alsum

Week in review Feb.16

Erik Snyder - Monday, February 17, 2014

Week in review

Frigid temperatures ushered students into the week after mid-term break. Many Ravencrest students visited one of our sister schools, Timberline, during the break and enjoyed branching out to others going through a similar program, at a different location. When back on campus, our guest speaker, Dan Thomas, from Timberline, spoke on Ecclesiastes and the context of the book. With a thorough examination of it, Dan taught on the theme of how important it is to keep our focus on God instead of on ourselves and how the most dangerous question to ask is “What do I get out of it?” With that we no longer have our focus on God, but our own desires, which can lead to feeding the flesh.

In the midst of these lessons, student council planned a Spirit Week. Monday was a day to represent the place you are from. Tuesday brought Copy Cat day where everyone dressed and acted like another person. Favorite Character day came on Wednesday, followed by Twin Day on Thursday. Of course on Valentine’s Day everyone dressed up in pink, red, and white.

Preparations throughout the week were being made for Saturday when an Open House would be held on campus to inform the neighbors and community to what Ravencrest is and invite them to see what we do up on our little hill. Dessert, drama, music, live painting, and testimonies were all prepared for the night.

It was a full week after break, but fun, and our time up here continues to teach us responsibility while living in community.

- Brittany Alsum

Week in review Feb.1

Erik Snyder - Saturday, February 01, 2014

Week in review

Before this week began, students headed out to Aspen for the X-Games. Some even braved a car ride for six hours there, watched the games, and headed back the same day. On Monday, the week of classes started with our guest speakers, Stuart Briscoe and his wife, Jill. Stuart spoke on 2 Corinthians, teaching about the background of the book before getting into the details of Paul’s purpose in writing each of the chapters and the meaning behind them. Jill took two classes to go over the topic of a devotional life and how to discover the purpose God has for us. Outside of class, the first large snow of 2014 came, covering the Colorado landscape in white. Despite the cold, students have not lost their excitement, and a small group even wakes up early to occasionally hike up a mountain to snowboard down, making it just in time for breakfast. Although not everyone enjoys snow, they have still made the best of it and are continuing to make the most of this year in Colorado.

- Brittany Alsum

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