The Greatest Adventures Hold the Greatest Surprises

By Mike Wilhelm, Senior Chaplain

I can’t imagine a greater adventure than leaving home. Dozens of kids do it every year to come to Boys Ranch. Leaving home for new opportunities is often exciting, but it can also be frightening. Home, no matter how challenging it might have been, is just that—home. It is familiar. You might recall that Abram was called to leave his familiar country and kindred for a new place God would show him (Gen. 12:1). His great adventure in the face of fear lays the groundwork for our Christian faith.

This summer has brought 27 new kids to Boys Ranch. Like Abram, these courageous young pilgrims have left “their familiar country and kindred” to put down some roots in another land. 

I have met most of them, and they are truly amazing. I started thinking about these new friends and how overwhelming their transitions must be. So, we planned a recent Sunday chapel service around an encouraging time of open mic with these instructions:

“James 1:7 says, ‘All good things come from above…’ With that in mind, when, perhaps, have you noticed beauty, kindness, or courage over the past few weeks?”

Those who had witnessed such things were invited to come to the microphone to briefly share their experiences. (In chapel, we refer to these short extemporaneous reports as “popcorn testimonies.”) I figured the unscripted time of heartfelt sharing by our community would be comforting to our new friends.

The response was heart-stirring. Several kids and staff came forward to share wonderful things. Boys and girls expressed deep gratitude for the kindness of their houseparents and coaches. Others mentioned beauty, and many mentioned the courage they’d seen in their peers. One young man expressed his gratitude for the kindness that two of the upperclassmen student leaders had shown him at strength and conditioning workouts in the mornings. Our head boys’ basketball coach recognized the courage he witnesses every day in the youth on our campus. Houseparents shared similar affirmations, sometimes with telltale tears. 

I’m sure this was reassuring for our new pilgrims, but none of this surprised me. What surprised me is this—several of the 

student testimonies came from our new pilgrims! I was astonished. With no pressure, just an open, unassuming invitation, many of our new friends felt compelled to come down in front of the entire Boys Ranch chapel congregation to share! I never expected this to happen. And each one of these new kids—without exception—came down to testify to the kindness they have experienced at Boys Ranch. 

God surprised me that Sunday morning with a majestic picture of our community through a fresh set of eyes. I am grateful for everyone who is part of this great adventure at Cal Farley’s. I’m grateful for the kids, their families, alumni, staff and their families, donors, prayer partners, and the rest of our friends far and wide. 

Life hasn’t always been easy for everyone, yet God works through all of us to become one big, shared adventure. It’s a hope-filled adventure that is producing a bounty of God’s best gifts, things like beauty, kindness, and courage. We’re told that God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). 

At Boys Ranch I’m continually reminded that God’s adventure is full of the best surprises. 

The Greatest Adventures Hold the Greatest Surprises

Scroll to Top