Renewal Ranch

This photo is taken from the online chapel service Renewal Ranch created to keep participants’ family members and program supports engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapel service recordings are posted to the group’s Facebook page at 10 a.m. on Saturdays.

Men seeking recovery through Renewal Ranch remain focused in fighting their addictions through the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the facility has lost major revenue streams during this pandemic.

Then men can no longer see their families in person during Saturday chapel services, local pastors who taught the men several courses are unable to do so during the pandemic and traveling to other churches to host Sunday services is off the table.

Following the guidelines and protocols handed down by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has kept those at Renewal Ranch healthy, but it has also cost the facility thousands of dollars in funding.

Renewal Ranch Programs Director Chase Moser said the facility has also canceled its annual Kyle Allison Golf Classic amid growing coronavirus concerns and the need to practice social distancing.

The golf tournament was expected to bring in $25,000.

Renewal Ranch usually hosts chapel services at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. During these services, family member of those in recovery as well as other Renewal Ranch supporters are welcomed to the facility – located at 75 Lake Drive in Houston – to spend time with the men and participate in worship services. The last in-person chapel service was held on March 14. Once Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced all schools would close their doors by March 17, the facility also followed suit.

“This also has stopped a major stream of income for us, because on Saturdays during chapel, we take up an offering that day,” Moser said. “We’re missing that chapel offering on Saturday and on Sundays, we [would] go to a different church each week and present the entire service. During those services, the churches [would] take up a love offering for us, which is a major source of income for us and those have been cut off.”

Bryce McGhee, the center’s marketing director, said that going without chapel services and hosting services at other churches on Saturdays and Sundays respectively for eight weeks would mean losing about $50,000 in funding.

Though local pastors cannot stop by to teach regular courses, five of the center’s staff have stepped up to fill this void. And though the men have been isolated from their families more so than usual, Moser said the Renewal Ranch participants remain focused on the road to recovery and are understanding of the imposed restrictions.

“It’s been really tough on the guys just because family support is a big part of recovery and not being able to see your family for an extended period of time can be tough,” he told the Log Cabin Democrat. “They’ve responded really well, though. I’m trying to encourage them to come out on the other side of this thing better than they were going into it. We’re hoping that God uses this and that when their family gets to see them in one month or two months or however long that they’re different men.”

More than 60 men currently are seeking recovery through Renewal Ranch. Thirty-five of them are either in Phase I or the transitional phase and are living on campus, while the other men in Phase II live in the facility’s transitional apartment housing.

Five men were scheduled to graduate on March 21. The graduation ceremony for these men is postponed.

Renewal Ranch, located just west of Conway on a 102-acre ranch, has worked to restore lives that have been broken as a result of drug and alcohol addiction since 2011. The program is a 12-month, two-phase residential program where participants receive counseling, intensive Bible study and opportunities to serve others through community work projects.

Caleb Stephens, 24, of Little Rock has participated in the program over the last seven months. He is in the transitional phase and will move into the program’s apartments next month.

While not being able to see his family during this global COVID-19 pandemic is upsetting, Stephens said he is grateful to have quality time with the other men at Renewal Ranch and for the opportunity to record chapel services for family members and program supporters to watch on Saturdays.

Because the facility cannot welcome visitors onto its grounds during the coronavirus outbreak, Moser told the Log Cabin that the men at Renewal Ranch have begun recording chapel services and later post the recordings to their Facebook page.

“They enjoy just knowing that their family can still see them [through the recorded services],” Moser said. “We give the men the opportunity to share something on the microphone with what God is doing in their life, so that’s a good thing for the families to hear as well.”

Despite the chaos the COVID-19 outbreak has created, Stephens said he remains “super focused” on his recovery.

“Just coming into this place with an open mind and open heart has been all the difference,” he said. “I’ve seen huge transformations just in my thought process and level of self discipline.”

Being able to showcase his talents and perform as a pianist during Renewal Ranch services is also rewarding, he said.

Stephens said he has bonded with Jon-Austen Linch during his time in the program and that the two are both in the transitional phase and will become roommates next month.

“We know each other’s goals,” Stephens said. “We know a lot about each other and keep each other accountable. You need to be able to share with somebody, keeping it all in is dangerous.”

On Monday night, Renewal Ranch participants recorded a video to send off to the Three Trees Cowboy Church in Wynne.

Prior to COVID-19 cancelations, the men planned to host the Sunday morning service at the Three Trees Cowboy Church. The church has since agreed to broadcast the service to its members Sunday morning.

Moser said the program is seeking donations during this crisis so that it can continue serving men battling addiction. “Even in the middle of this, addiction is still real and people still need help,” he said. “There’s still men’s lives at stake here, and we need people’s help to make this [program] possible.”

To donate, visit www.therenewalranch.org. Donors can also call Moser at 501-513-7843 to provide food and cleaning supplies to the recovery center.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.

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