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Ranch has been building Christian leaders

Public now can take leadership classes

Managing editor

Morning Star Ranch near Florence has been training young, Christian men for nearly 30 years.

And now, ranch leaders want to share their successful Christian leadership program with the public.

On Aug. 25, Marion County pastors and other leaders from the area came to the ranch to hear about a new program.

The Rev. Val Newton, site coordinator for the ranch’s urban ministry institute, wants ministers to encourage people in their congregations to enroll in the program and continue the mission of the ranch in spreading the gospel.

Unlike other seminary-type programs, this training is designed for anyone — regardless of educational background or financial means to pay for advanced training.

The Rev. Ron Davis, vice president of leadership development at World Impact, an inner-city mission organization, said the program is designed for the mentor to be only a step ahead of the student.

“If you love the people in your congregation, you need to find a way to train locally,” he said.

The program will be available to students via satellite, making it affordable and accessible.

As an added incentive, Tabor College has collaborated with Morning Star Ranch. The classes taught at the ranch are accredited at the college so students now can earn an associate of arts degree.

About the ranch

The ranch began in the late 1970s when Al Ewert, director of World Impact’s Wichita ministry, had a vision of a place where young men from inner cities could go for Christian discipleship training and where youth and families could retreat for short respite from urban life.

In 1981, World Impact acquired 560 acres in the Flint Hills southeast of Florence, and developed Morning Star Ranch.

When the property was purchased, it had a farmhouse, barn, and corral fences. Director Joe Graham and his staff, with volunteers and donated materials, built five homes with wood obtained from an army barracks at Marion County Lake.

Hardwood floor material came from a gymnasium floor. Other donations followed including a bridge over the Cottonwood River.

Staff members taught the first class of discipleship students with the first student graduating from the ministry in 1983.

The mission has been to teach young men — ages 18 through 25 who live in urban areas — lifelong skills of discipleship and Christian values while they work on the ranch in the Flint Hills.

After completion of the two-year leadership program, the men return to the inner cities and become Christian leaders in their communities.

Students follow a Christian leadership-training program, which delves into Biblical studies, theology and ethics, Christian ministry, and urban mission. The program is strenuous but designed for any adult, regardless of Christian knowledge and education.

Requirements

Unlike other intense Christian training, this course does not require prerequisite classes. The only requirement is a reference by the applicant’s pastor.

Being involved with a church is an important part of being a Christian, Davis said. So those accepted in the program must have a strong affiliation with a church.

“If the church ain’t your Mama, God ain’t your Daddy,” he told the pastors.

The leadership program is available through satellite technology around the world, to broaden people’s knowledge of scripture.

Typically, the ranch only takes four or five men at one time for the two-year program, giving them one-on-one training in preparation for spreading Christianity to their neighborhoods when they return to the cities.

“With this program, we are able to reach many more,” Davis said.

Since the class is being taught by satellite, those 150 men who have already completed the program on the ranch, can continue to learn and live in the urban areas.

“Morning Star wants pastors to tell it on the mountain,” Newton said, about the program.

Registration for the first class is due by Sept. 15.

For more information about the program, contact Newton at (620) 274-4200 or at vnewton@worldimpact.org.

Last modified Sept. 2, 2010

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