Stories

Real-life Testimonies from Hope Ranch

Maria Matthews

My Personal Story

Psalm 91:11, "For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways"

Since I grew up in a Catholic family and knew about Jesus, my faith has always been important to me. Several years ago, I started attending bible studies where I began growing in my knowledge of the bible. During this time is when I also started to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. My friends and I were questioning what study to do next. I contacted my sister for suggestions since she was affiliated with Dance Again Ministries. My sister suggested that we take the course that Michele Pyatt, the founder of Dance Again Ministries published called, Fishers of Men Discipleship Training. Through this curriculum, I learned how to receive Jesus’ love by living a lifestyle of repentance. I learned how to receive Jesus’ love, His power that heals, restores, strengthens and births dreams. Lisa and I both caught this vision and began teaching small groups, this is discipleship.

Dance Again Ministries hosts two annual retreats. The story of Hope Ranch began on my second Body, Soul and Spirit Life Whole and Balanced Retreat in Las Vegas, Nevada in May of 2017. At the beginning of the retreat, one of the ladies in our group delivered a prophetic word to me. She said that the Lord showed her a mare (female horse) and colt (baby horse) and led her to reveal this vision to me. She told me that I would be helping others through a healing gift. This word spoke to me because I had a love for horses.

On another occasion on the same trip, Lisa came over to me and told me that she received a word for me from the Lord. She explained that she had no idea what the word meant but was pretty sure it was from the Lord. The word was "horseshoe". I immediately began to weep because Lisa did not know that the Lord had been speaking to me about starting Hope Ranch. Her word was confirmation that He really was speaking to me about this. I did not know what to do next, so I waited as I began seeking the Lord on His timing.

When I got home from our retreat, I shared what the Lord had spoken to me through His revelation and through prophetic words from others with my daughter. My daughter also has a love for horses. The Lord confirmed the name of the ranch by giving both my daughter and I the same name while we were both seeking Him, “Hope Ranch”.

We own a cabin in Grafton, IL so I decided to invite several friends to a weekend retreat. After our bible time, we went on a bike ride and rode to Pere Marquette State Park for a horseback trail ride. We mounted our horses and were led by a man who worked the ranch, we also had a leader taking up the rear of our group, he was a teenager and was riding and training his horse. Michele asked the lad his horse's name and he replied that he hadn’t named her. Then he told us he was going to sell the horse because he wanted a car. He was training her to sell her. When I found out that she was for sale, I asked him questions for a friend who I thought may be interested in the mare since she teaches kids how to ride. The horse was small and I thought her size would be perfect for my friend. I was not interested in the horse for myself because I was not ready for the expense, the work, nor the time that it takes to care for a horse.

I got home from the cabin and went about my normal Sunday evening routine getting ready for my work week on Monday morning. However, Monday morning was not so routine, I was woken up by the still small voice of the Lord at 3:30 am! The Lord asked me if I remembered the horse that was being trained on the horseback ride. He then revealed that her name was Sierra which meant "move mountains" and she would be the start of Hope Ranch. I had to wait until 7am before calling Michele. She immediately gave me the number of Pere Marquette stables and told me to hang up the phone and call that boy. I was not ready for this purchase, I did not have a barn to keep the horse in nor did I even have a trailer to pick the mare up. I hung up the phone with Michele, called the boy, then called Michele back 15 minutes later and said, “I bought the horse!”

Lisa and I teach discipleship class to small groups. During one of our classes, a friend gave me the phone number of property owner saying he was giving away a Clydesdale and two miniature therapy horses. She encouraged me to call the owner thinking that these animals could be an asset to our program. Lisa, Michele and I took a trip to the property to see the animals, I was only interested in the miniature horses since I was already boarding Sierra and did not want the added expense. When we stepped foot on the property, the feel of the environment was inviting. The animals were well socialized, it felt like home. The owner informed us of his heart for therapeutic program and how even though he had perused this program himself on his property, it hadn’t worked out for him. I asked what his thoughts were about me starting the program at his farm until I found a place. He agreed with my vision and prior to our leaving, we had a second meeting set up.

A couple nights later, my husband and I were sitting downstairs watching a movie when the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I was going to buy that house that was on the farm. I was stunned, I was thinking, the farm was not for sale! The owner had not mentioned that he was wanting to move out of his home. The next day I received a text from the owner saying he was interested in selling the farm. He said that he believed in what we were doing and felt like the Lord was leading him to offer us his property. I’m excited to share with the world, the next chapter of my story. I will be writing about children healing, families thriving, restored relationships and people connecting with horses. I walk in communion with the Holy Spirit, He speaks to me and I’m continually growing keener to His still small voice. When the Lord speaks to me, He confirms what He’s told me through His written Word and through other people. To see Hope Ranch come from heaven to earth, is like living in a world of miracles.

Now, the land is purchased; Hope Ranch is here!

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