Stories from last season…

Each season we are amazed at the miracle of healing and transformation that happens when God’s love touches a hurting heart.  Here are some testimonies of God’s redeeming work in the lives of these precious ladies!

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“At the retreat, as the ladies painted some of their hopes, dreams, and victories on the horses, a brilliant rainbow appeared to the East with a second rainbow parallel to it.  It was a beautiful reminder that God remembers his good plans and promises for each of his children! (Genesis 9:13-14)”.

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“We got the chance to pray with Sue*.  She received God’s word for her and was able to forgive someone who had deeply hurt her.”

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“Tracy* was deathly afraid of getting on a horse because she had fallen in the past.  She had a frightened determination to go through with it.  Mary Beth and Rochelle were so kind, encouraging but not pushing her.  It was so awesome to see the Lord working through them!  When they returned, Tracy* was smiling from ear to ear as she had won a victory over fear that day!”

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“Before leaving for the retreat, my (Mary Beth) truck had been having persistent issues with sputtering/stalling/failing to start.  Two shops diagnosed issues with the truck’s computer and it needed to be replaced.  However there wasn’t time for the repair to be done before the retreat.  I had peace trusting the Lord would get us there and back, but He reminded me to share so that we could all see his answers to prayer!  We got over the mountains with just one sputter, and made it home safely with some extra prayer.”

 

*Names are changed to protect the identities of our participants.

 

Introducing Jack!

Thanks to the generosity of many supporters, last summer we were able to bring Jack up from TX to join our team!  He was kindly donated to us by a friend of Promise 23, and having him here is a big answer to our prayers over the past couple of years!

Jack is a ~15 year old Percheron cross gelding, such a great fit for the Promise 23 horse team, and gets along splendidly with both other horses and humans!!  He is kind, gentle, strong, and steady.  He immediately started making connections with our participants.  In fact, he quickly and easily connects with everyone he meets.  We are so thankful for Jack!

Cody’s Story – Hope!

Three years ago, I met a horse that unbeknownst to me would use his story to help others see hope. Cody’s owner contacted me about helping this particular horse through some anxiety issues. His anxiety was so severe that he was quite explosive at times and understandably, she had lost confidence in him and wanted some guidance. Her goal was to be able to safely ride him again.

When Cody first came into training, he was afraid of EVERYTHING!  He hadn’t been off his property for a few years and now the world seemed like a big scary place to him.  He was afraid to walk past parked cars, open doors, anything that moved, noises, training tools, oftentimes me, everything. When he was scared, it would result in a panic attack that started with a huge spook and was followed by a secondary panic that often had him running backwards terrified.  We wondered if it was something to do with his eyesight, that when he threw his head up with the initial startle, possibly poor eyesight led him to believe something was chasing him.  However, a later appointment with an equine dentist found that his tongue, of all things, was the source.  See, Cody’s tongue is about three times thicker than the average horse’s tongue. Our dentist had seen this before, when a horse with that problem flips their head up- as Cody did when he was startled, the tongue flips up and cuts off the air at the back of the throat. As you can imagine, this results in the secondary panic.

As if that weren’t enough, Cody also suffers from another form of panic if his saddle isn’t done up exactly perfect (which can be harder than you’d think).  He is abnormally sensitive in his girth area, and if the cinch is not flawless, some sort of pain or claustrophobic sensation is triggered that causes him to absolutely explode- running and bucking in full hysteria trying to ward off an invisible attacker.

Gaining understanding of these physical ailments that caused major reactions to the point of very dangerous behavior allowed us to be able to help him move forward. Cody slowly overcame his anxiety, through the understanding of his owner who got help for him instead of writing him off as “bad” or dangerous.” Through the equine dentist who helped us to diagnose his enormous tongue.  Through my time spent with him trying to understand him and gently pushing him forward, instead of allowing him to stay where he was, scared, confused, and sure the whole world was out to get him.

I had him in training for two consecutive summers and found out he loves trail riding, which is how I spend most of my riding time these days. So when his owner had some life changes, she told me she needed to find him a home, but was concerned that no one would understand his “quirks” as we call them.  If someone didn’t understand how important it was to manage his physical issues, he could react in a way that would get him labelled as “dangerous” “bad” “not worth anyone’s time.”  Do you see how these same issues apply to people who are misunderstood or who need help? Instead of backing away from the mess, the explosion, the ugly- Cody needed someone who would stand quietly with him in those moments and guide him back to a safe place.

We both felt it wasn’t a good idea to just offer him for sale, and by then he had a special place in my heart, so he ended up with me.
But Cody was still a risk factor.  At times he would panic when tied up, especially if saddled and tied.  I loved riding him and he was really blossoming into a much more secure horse.  I was enjoying him as my personal horse, but it never occurred to me he would be safe enough or be needed in ministry.

So imagine my surprise when choosing a couple extra horses to take to the retreat last year, I felt God telling me Cody needed to go.  I hate to admit, I thought I was hearing wrong.  Safety is a priority for any horse program and we make all efforts to keep things as safe as possible.  I didn’t include Cody on that safe horse list.  I even tried to pass the buck off on my staff members.  “I feel led to bring Cody to the retreat, but I am very aware of his issues, and if you don’t feel comfortable with me bringing him, I won’t.” I said.  And although there were some raised eyebrows, they all agreed if I felt led to bring him, I needed to bring him.

As the retreat approached, it became clear that Cody was there for one definitive reason, to connect with a specific person.  One of our survivors had had surgery a couple months prior and hadn’t been attending horse sessions.  She loved horses and was bummed to be on a horse retreat where she couldn’t ride, so she was a tad grumpy about the horse sessions, saying she didn’t want to participate.  We managed to get her over to meet Cody, and told her even though she couldn’t ride, she could hang with him, because he could use a friend to help show him the world was a safe place to be.  I told her about his physical ailments, about his insecurities, about his panic attacks, and about how he had learned to overcome these issues in his day to day life and now he was learning to broaden his circle of comfort.  She was immediately drawn to him, being in a small but growing circle of comfort herself.  She began walking with him, around and around and around, talking to him, encouraging him and telling him her story.

After that first day, she shared with me some of her extreme insecurities, to the point of panic attacks in public.  She said, “If Cody can overcome his anxiety, I can too!”  And she repeated that about every five minutes for the rest of the weekend.  She proclaimed to everyone who was near, “I love this horse!  This horse has changed my life!  I love Cody!”

The last day, she and Cody walked past a small house and Cody had a moment of fear, he spooked and dropped away from the house.  And I couldn’t have been prouder of our girl, when instead of jumping away from him as he was acting “scary” she calmly straightened, laid her hand on him, and said, “Come on, it’s ok.  I’m with you and you can do this.  We will do it together.”  Cody immediately calmed, and they walked off together without a care in the world. Together they OVERCAME fear.

Little did I know that Cody’s work in the ministry was just beginning!

Recently, we met a new survivor – an unbeliever, young, and scared out of her wits.  She didn’t have much to say to any of us, except that she was very scared of horses and didn’t want to go near them.  She had been bitten as a child and had seen someone kicked by a horse, and wanted no part of all that. We did our teaching lesson and afterwards our team encouraged her to step into the arena, just to pet Cody. Just for a minute.  She tentatively reached out to pet him, from about as far away as she possibly could be.  Then came her smile, “he’s so soft.” she said quietly.  We started to tell his story- huge tongue- panic attacks- anxiety- and how he OVERCAME it.  Within minutes, she ended up petting him, grooming him, getting closer and closer… until she was hugging his head and completely trusting him.

Cody has an amazing way of interacting with these scared girls.  He is gentle, he places his head on them or against them, without nibbling or being pushy… he makes it clear that he WANTS to be with them.  He LOVES on them, he ACCEPTS them just as they are, and by doing so he shows them that they are VALUABLE to him.  God has made these horses so special, to represent himself!
By the second session she was dying to get in there and be with Cody.  She spoke of her anxieties, how she never trusts anyone to stand behind her and how she’s always waiting to get jumped (beaten up).  Then she saw the hope through our angel in horsehair…and said… “Maybe if he can overcome all he has overcome, then maybe I can too… IT IS SO HOPEFUL…”

At our last session, we taught on boundaries and we encouraged the ladies to paint a positive word or words onto their horse that had to do with boundaries. I was amazed when our survivor, who two weeks prior said she wanted no part of horses and could only focus on fear, wrote these two words on Cody – our once scared, reactive, anxious-to-the-point-of-dangerous horse.

God is so good.  I didn’t know these words were even in her vocabulary or anything she was reaching towards yet.  Not that long ago, these words weren’t in Cody’s vocabulary.  But they are in God’s vocabulary.  And HE is transforming explosive misunderstood horses in order to help scared, hurting survivors overcome their horrors and to feel secure and content.  Jesus uses these horses to unlock hearts so fast it makes my head spin.  I have seen many times a survivor come into the program not wanting anything to do with horses or with us, wrapping fear around themselves, only to have it thrown off within MINUTES!
The no’s are being exchanged for yes’s, the hopeless exchanged for hope, the broken exchanged for healed, the ashamed exchanged for restored…
Jesus is overcoming!

~Jennifer Teigrob~

Heidi’s Story

Psalm 23:1-3 says:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.
Jesus has called us to show love and acceptance to hurting young women. Jesus wants to restore their souls and make them whole again.  Because of the way he created horses God has been able to use these animals to unlock hearts that have been walled up and hardened.
Last year “Heidi” arrived at the barn and made it clear to us that she was not a believer. In fact, she told us so repeatedly. She also told us she would not continue in Phase II of the Engedi Refuge program because “it got too religious”.
During a session last fall one of the staff shared the true story of Hero, a horse that had been shot in the head twice and left to die in the Oregon wilderness. Hero’s story of near death, rescue, and restoration so resonated with Heidi that she had silent yet uncontrollable tears running down her face.
As we moved into the horse-handling portion of our session, Heidi went and stood beside a pen holding my horse Bubba. Now, we haven’t been able to use Bubba in sessions because he thinks this is so exciting when the ladies come, he can’t quite behave himself and he gets this mischievous twinkle in his eye and it’s anybody’s guess what he might do.
Bubba approached and quickly picked up on Heidi’s emotions. He quietly stood beside her while she cried. As she cried she gently stroked Bubba’s face. And he just stood there. No nibbling lips, no reaching through the bars for something to grab. Just stood still and shared her pain.
Months later Heidi couldn’t stand it anymore. She could not deny the overwhelming love and acceptance that kept coming at her from all directions. She gave her life to Christ.
Jesus is restoring her soul.

~Mary Beth Teigrob~

**Participant names have been changed to protect their anonymity.

Looking Back to Look Ahead

As we look ahead to 2016, I am filled with excitement for all the Lord is doing.  2015 was a huge year for Promise 23, and the Lord’s plan so clearly showed through.  Our focus for 2015 was love and acceptance.  We prayed mightily for our participants to feel complete acceptance, for them to feel unconditionally loved, for our team to be Jesus’ hands and feet, and to help them feel His enormous love for them.  We prayed specifically for relationships between these women and our staff, as we are called to love one another.

And throughout the year, time and time again, God answered these prayers, moving in and among our team, our courageous victims of sexual exploitation, our horses, and even the drivers who brought our ladies out!  If I had to name the biggest fruit that came out of 2015, I would say it was the relationships!  We had some very special bonds take place between some of our volunteers and participants.  God pulled them together, exactly as He planned even before we were born, to help heal and connect two souls.  It blows my mind sometimes that He knows our every step before we take it, that He knew exactly who would be in each session and set the journey in motion for these ladies to connect.  The best part is, our Great God wastes nothing. It is not just our team coming alongside our participants, but I have firsthand accounts of members of our team being able to connect deeply with our ladies, confronting and healing hurts of their own in a safe place of understanding.  It is a beautiful thing!

In 2015, we have had the honor of seeing Engedi ladies graduate through the Engedi Phases:1, 2 and 3 (completion!).  Ladies are now attending school, gaining employment, in their own housing and praising God for their success.  My heart is so full at all they have attained.  It is no small feat to flee addiction, abuse, exploitation and severe manipulation.  We as a team are humbly honored to walk beside these ladies and witness their journey.  To see them give glory to God and rely on Him fills my eyes with tears and my heart to overflowing!  They possess a courage that I admire deeply.  While it is often so painful to hear their stories and try to imagine the pain they suffered in the past, there is so much healing in the testimony and in bringing light to the darkness. Seeing what has been overcome is an inspiration, and God’s hope shines through and spills over.  There is always hope and life in choosing Jesus.

Our 2015 retreat was a time I will never forget.  Our team, our prayer covering team, and Engedi’s staff all felt warned for some very real spiritual warfare.  Any time God is to be magnified, there is a very real enemy doing his best to tear it down.  We prayed mightily over this event, before, during, and after, and we gave all the glory and control to God.  As the weekend progressed, there were small and large breakthroughs that we would never have imagined to be possible!  We had the wonderful addition of some very musically talented women to our team this year and we decided to worship by the fire—it was a mountain retreat after all!  Fires had been a major threat to the area all summer long, and a burn ban had been in place for months.  That last night, God made a way and the ban was lifted!  Guitars were brought out, as well as some smart phones to find lyrics.  Little did we know how those gals could sing!!!  Not only did they sing, but from their hearts came forth songs from their past—lovely God honoring gospel and worship songs.  It was a stunningly beautiful and holy time, hearing all those voices lifted to heaven, praising the God who made them, rescued them from despair, and gave them safety, freedom, life.  The God who loves them more than they could ever imagine.

Now, Promise 23 did not realize this was the first time that Engedi as a whole had ever worshipped together., and we did not grasp the significance.  However, it became clear later that night when a lovely young lady, who had spilled her heart earlier that day in confession and had recommitted her life to God, choosing to trust in Him again, had a medical emergency and was airlifted to the nearest hospital.  For a while she could not speak, but when she could, she immediately gave glory to God, and asked that others not worry about her but also trust in God.  During the emergency, these gals, some of whom only recently had come out of “the life” banded together, stayed calm, prayed for their friend and handled themselves so well!  This scenario had the potential of disintegrating into fear, anxiety and chaos, but these gals chose to overcome that, remembering that God is in control, just as their lips had sung two hours prior.  What the enemy intended for evil worked out for the glory of God!   As I look ahead to 2016, I am full of joy and anticipation for what the Lord will do!

~Jennifer

Exciting Growth in 2015

Promise 23 continues to grow each year, but this year has been huge! And we are just getting started! When we started out, we had 2 session leaders, 2 horses we were using, a bookkeeper and a Great Big God who had plans for our little ministry!We are very excited to now have 6 trained session leaders (and one more waiting for the next training session), an amazing bookkeeper/financial guru, a 5 member Prayer Covering Team, an IT/Tech genius, and many, many other people who have shown their support through prayers, financial support, asking about the program regularly, and getting involved at work parties, etc. We are SO thankful for every single person who supports Promise 23 however they can.

Last fall, we moved to a new home base for ministry times. We now have the use of a lovely covered arena, which is such a blessing here in the Pacific Northwest! A huge thank you to Ed and Mary Beth Teigrob for generously allowing us to use their facility!

This spring, we will also begin once a month sessions for Engedi mothers who have been reunited with their children and also for Engedi ladies who have graduated Phase 1 and aren’t able to make our regularly scheduled sessions. We are really excited to work with some children and share the horses with them.

Our prayers for a website designer have been answered!!! We are thrilled to have Vanessa Smith join our team as our IT/tech person. She has worked tirelessly to not only get our website up and running, but also to get a newsletter formatted! Vanessa works at the Light of the World Prayer Center as worship director, and has also agreed to be our point person for the Promise 23 Prayer Covering Team. We are thanking God for meeting so many needs with this sweet girl!

Sweet Provision

I am often asked what my favorite part of our ministry is, and I’m always quick to reply, “The smiles!”  New participants can arrive at the ranch nervous, guarded, skeptical, angry, scared or unwilling.  Typically within minutes, (or seconds!) of seeing the horses, defenses are dropped and those radiant smiles show up!Last summer we had a new participant come to the ranch with no experience with horses.  After introducing myself, I asked if she liked horses.  “No!” She said reactively, then, ” I don’t know.”  I assured her there would be no pressure from me, but asked if she would like to enter the arena or stay on the outside and watch the other ladies for a bit.  She said she would prefer to stay out, but when I had to go into the arena, she asked if she could come with me.  Upon entering the arena, she looked over the group of horses tied to the rail, and her eyes locked on a small grey mare named Maya, or more specifically, the long beautiful mane that was Maya’s.  “Can I braid her hair?”  She asked tentatively.  “Of course!”  I responded, and brought her a brush, detangler and little rubber bands.  Within minutes, she had a beautiful braid, had gotten used to Maya’s movements and size.  Half an hour later, she was riding, with the most beautiful smile you have ever seen, and telling everyone in sight, “I love horses!”

Our horses are the key that unlocks hearts and allows us to show Christ’s love to those beautiful, determined ladies.  Happiness begins to pour from them and it is not at all unusual for the session to end with a new participant joyfully hugging all our session leaders while exclaiming, ” I usually don’t hug people, but I’ll hug you!”

As founder of Promise 23 Ranch Ministries, I am so thankful that God has led us to such a fun part of healing.  While the courageous Engedi ladies are digging deep in therapy, uncovering wounds and hurts and putting in hours, days, weeks, and months of transforming their lives, we get to share our horses with them and bring joy.

1 Timothy verse 6 says, “… but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment…”  I love how our Great God has not only provided these ladies with a safe home, medical care, food, addiction and trafficking treatment and more, but He also longs for their happiness, as any true, loving Daddy would.

Friends, it is pure blessing to be walking in God’s will and sharing our horses with those who need them most.  The Lord made them special, and He has richly provided us with horses for our enjoyment.

~Jennifer Teigrob, Founder, Promise 23 Ranch Ministries