Wears Valley Ranch (October 19-21)

October 21, 2018

Saturday dawned with steady rain, causing us to wonder whether the planned projects would be delayed. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast prepared by the kitchen team heard testimonies from the JFBC team.  By the time we were ready to begin the projects the rain had not stopped, but since some of the painting and staining was in the covered outdoor gym and in a cabin we went ahead with those projects.

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The rain ended before lunch and so we were able to complete the other fencing, landscaping, and tree removal projects, in spite of the rain delay!  

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Hearing the testimonies of some of the children at the Ranch was certainly a highlight of the trip. Many of the children and staff joined us for meals, giving us a chance to hear various testimonies and often to share ours as well. At one dinner table, two 11 year old boys shared how they had come to Christ recently here at the Ranch. Sunday morning another young man shared with the whole group how he had come to the Ranch from a troubled home and had also come to Christ here.  It is a joy to hear how the Lord has used the Ranch to bring children to faith in Him and to help them handle some of the difficulties from their backgrounds.

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The kitchen team ministered to both the JFBC team and the ranch with their ‘ministry of meals’—drawing the staff and children to share wonderful food and fellowship with us.  Not only did all of us enjoy eating the food, but the project load seemed lighter with such great meals to look forward to!

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We shared a great time of worship and observance of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday with the congregation that meets there in the new chapel. The Ranch does not take on debt to build, but rather does the work as the funds become available, so we have watched the chapel take shape over the past couple of years. It was great to worship in it for the first time on this trip! After a fellowship meal with the church we headed home, blessed by being part of this ministry to children.  


Sevierville, TN: Wears Valley Ranch, Day 3

The morning began with another wonderful breakfast prepared by our kitchen crew.  We heard testimonies from two young ranch students and also from two JFBC participants.   Our trip leader also did a devotional on the success of sharing the Gospel with a student in Albania and also a local friend.  The critical message he shared is that we should never delay or procrastinate in sharing the Good News as we never know when we may run out of time.

After cleaning the cabins, we returned for the 10:30 am service at Covenant Community Church.  The message was delivered by Brian McDonnell, COO of Wears Valley Ranch and Associate Pastor of Covenant Community Church.   The message featured Ephesians 6:10-23 - Wearing the Armor of God.  

Afterwards we shared a good old fashioned potluck lunch in the dining hall with the congregation and listened to Travis and Laura Sawyer, two missionaries serving in Kenya. They gave a presentation on their children's school and children's home.

Also during the weekend many of us toured the new chapel.  We were so pleased to see the progress that has been made and looking forward to its completion in Spring of 2018.  (See pictures below)

We look forward to returning next year to serve again at Wears Valley Ranch!

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Sevierville, TN: Wears Valley Ranch, Day 2

Twenty Six volunteers from JFBC made the trip despite some obstacles and some nerve-wracking moments at the last minute for the trip leader’s family. These kinds of hindrances seem to be fairly common for many mission trips! Everyone made it nonetheless for what proved to be a beautiful Saturday that was perfect for us to help the ranch with many jobs! It was rainy last night so the terrific weather was an answered prayer!

The day began with a very hearty breakfast from the kitchen volunteers, who not only treated us to fabulous food but also added seasonal decorations for the buffet tables! Two of the ranch children shared their testimonies with us as also did one of our JFBC team. We had heard from both of the ranch children in prior years and it was both a blessing and an encouragement to see how they have continued to grow in the faith since we last heard from them! And since the JFBC team comes from a variety of different Bible study classes and different worship hours, learning about the faith story of our team is equally a treat!

We were joined at lunch by more of the ranch residents, both staff and students. Being able to renew their fellowship from year to year is one of the joys of this particular JFBC trip! Our kitchen volunteers outdid themselves for lunch with a ham and turkey spread that would be suitable for Thanksgiving!

After lunch the pressure was on to see which person would achieve the coveted Mennonite award! If you are not familiar with this particular recognition event see Rick Beasley! Not until Sunday morning will we find out!

The jobs included replacing sections of split rail fence, indoor painting, installing shelves and wall hooks for storing the equipment for the ropes course,  installing landscape timbers, and clean-up of brush. We are here to serve and encourage the staff and students and we pray that these efforts help to make some of the rough places smooth. There was one twisted knee among the JFBC team; pray that it does not develop complications.

The kitchen team treated us and many of the ranch staff and students to an evening cookout with burgers and hot dogs, followed by a rousing game of ‘battle ball’ (dodge ball) and a bonfire. Of course it would not be a real bonfire without toasted marshmallows and s’mores! Both the meal and the fun provided more chances to visit and share with the staff and students.

As we head into Sunday morning, pray for opportunities to be both an encouragement to the residents and a positive example and witness for the children! We also look forward to a time of worship and fellowship with the church that meets here on the ranch.


Sevierville, TN: 30th Trip Arrival Night - Welcome Back!

Our JFBC team is excited to arrive Friday tonight at the beautiful Wears Valley Ranch in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. This is our 30th trip from our church and we are so happy to be back once again.  The weather upon arrival is partly sunny with a few scattered showers.  The weather forecast is expected to remain mostly sunny and pleasant throughout the weekend.  

We have the following PRAYER REQUESTS:  Please pray for the driving safety of all  our JFBC team members.  Also we ask for a restful night sleep as we begin our day promptly at 7:00 am in the Dining Hall.  We will begin with testimonies from the Wears Valley Students and JFBC participants.  We will break into our assigned groups and immediately begin working on our many team projects.  We ask for safety as well during on our group projects throughout the day.  We also pray for good weather for much of our oudoor work.  We also pray that all team members remain flexible and patient as work projects can change throughout the day.  But most importantly we are excited to fellowship with the Wears Valley students and staff and find out what God has in store for us this wonderful weekend here at the Ranch.  

Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him; and He will act.

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Sevierville, TN: Chinese Youth Mission Trip

Thanks to our prayer warriors for your being part of our mission trip with your prayers!

Sunday was Covenant Community Church worship day. We listened to a very inspirational message from Pastor Jim Wood. After the service, we had a buffet style meal with church members who brought homemade side dishes. We had pot roast and we supplied cookies! By the way, the cookies have been a big hit with Wears Valley Ranch students and with us! Again, we are thankful to all who brought cookies.

Today is the last day. We meet the day with excitement and sadness.

Yesterday afternoon, we went tubing with students, house parents, staff, and mentors from Wears Valley Ranch. The fellowship was awesome!  More bonding happened with tubing both with each other and Wears Valley folks. We are no longer 3 teams; WE are the team.

Sevierville, TN: Chinese Youth Mission Trip

Day two: the real work begins! 

Three teams working at the following projects: staining a deck (team to be known as "the stainers"); spreading mulch and wood chips around playgrounds, ropes course, and other areas (team to be known as the "wood chippers"); and cleaning debris out of and cleaning up the creek (team known as the "river rats").  Not only do we tackle these projects around Wears Valley Ranch, we take turns at kitchen duty to prepare our meals. We are balancing our chores and eating very well. We are really working as 3 teams with one spirit. It is an amazing combination of friendship, hard work, and dedication to our projects.


The best was yet to come, after our work, we had a hamburger / hot dog grill out picnic party with students and families from Wears Valley Ranch. We enjoyed eating, talking, and fellowshipping with Wears Valley Ranch students, staff, and mentors during and after the picnic. The house parents and girls invited our girls to watch the movie: "National Treasure" over at their cabins. This was a special treat as it does not happen often that working teams "hang out" with their students at their invitation. While the girls were talking and sharing their hearts, our guys were building relationships with their guys by playing basketball. Later the guys from WVR invited our guys over for a movie, "Around the World in 80 Days".  Our students discovered many ways to pray for their new friends. We are physically exhausted, but spiritually renewed.

Sevierville, TN: Chinese Youth Mission Trip

Friday night, after we arrived, we met at the dining hall to pray for our time here, to learn of our responsibilities at Wears Valley, to organize ourselves / food / tools, and to set up our temporary home here. We are excited about our time here.

The pictures below are of our view here as we arrived at Wears Valley Ranch: picture 1 is the road entrance; picture 2 is of our companions the cows (also here, but not pictured are sheep, a ram, rooster, hens, and horses); the dining hall is picture 3 with picture 4 being the view from the dining hall; and the last is our cabins.

Genesis 1:1-2:1 shares that In the beginning, God created...and it was good. We think that looking at these pictures of God's creation, you will agree with God, "and it was good".

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1)

Please continue to pray as we face our first day, June 10th in working hard at our jobs. Day one is a beginning where we are all working together and all excited about what the Lord has us to do and to learn.