Chapel Interns  Foster Relationships in the Iona Project

A young man stands in a lake and holds out a hand, helping wet children out of their cardboard boats. That’s love in action.

Young people sit around a table with lists of children’s names in front of them, ready to pray for each child by name. That’s also love in action, and both kinds of actions are part of life as a chapel intern at Boys Ranch.

Chapel interns are part of a program called “The Iona Project,” a yearlong spiritual immersion for recent college graduates. They meet for daily prayer and weekly communion.

A young man holds a child's hand to help him out of the water.
Chapel interns like Will serve as lifeguards, basketball partners and spiritual leaders through the Iona Project.

Iona Project Members Commit to a Year

Iona interns commit to a full year of prayer and service on our Boys Ranch campus,” said Mike Wilhelm, senior chaplain. “When they’re not out and about with kids, they’re behind the scenes engaged with scripture and prayer. A carefully kept schedule of spiritual discipline is the foundation of the program.”

The project asks the interns to prepare for a year of growth and connection with others, said Chaplain Ray Martinez, the associate chaplain who leads the group.

“I told the Ionans this year, ‘We step into silence and prayer so that we are better settled to step into our day,’” Martinez said. “There is a rhythm that is in place as they are here for one year.”

A trumpet, clarinet and drum are played in a pep band.
Each chapel intern brings a special gift to Boys Ranch. Daniel, left, started a pep band.

Five Men Commit to Serve

For the 2022-23 school year, five men joined The Iona Project.

They’ll cheer at ball games, lead prayer rides for teens, grill burgers and lead Wednesday devotionals in homes at Boys Ranch as they become part of the children’s lives.

“The Iona Project is in its ninth year, and each year has its own unique flavor,” Wilhelm said. “All the Iona groups complement the Christ-centered community on our campus, blessing our existing staff while at the same time, being blessed by them. The gift flows both ways.”

A Year of Service

For the 2022-23 school year, Will, Isaac, Sol, Daniel and Kyle will serve the students.

They will serve alongside the Boys Ranch residents in activities from games to rodeo or sports, Martinez said. They’ll focus on forging genuine relationships.

“The Ionans are able to make connections with so many kiddos during their time here,” Martinez said. “I believe most important is having young adults whose hearts beat for the Lord and who show up ready to live life with those that they come in contact with.”

Committed to Prayer

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