By Gregg Sneller, Partnership Advocate
My friends at Rainbow Acres with developmental disabilities have so much to offer the world.
I have seen this firsthand as a pastor bringing a group to volunteer at the Ranch, as a volunteer serving on the Ranch for a capital campaign effort, and now as an employee. One reality remains constant. In your life are there constants that you can always count upon? Well, you can count on Ranchers at Rainbow Acres to consistently show you through their words and actions how much they have to offer.
At the entrance to the Ranch, you drive through the front gate. By the time you arrive at the parking lot, unless it’s after hours, you will be spotted by at least one of the Ranchers. Within moments after exiting your car, a greeting of welcome and curiosity will come from someone close by.
Sometimes that greeting comes from Keith, who takes care of locking the gates and checking security around the Ranch. That’s his job and he is proud to serve at his home in this manner. Sometimes it’s a shout out from the back of the kitchen by Jeff who has lived at Rainbow Acres for 46 years or whoever is there bringing out recyclables. Sometimes it comes from the meal delivery team who are setting up for deliveries to the Rancher homes. Sometimes it’s a Rancher heading up to the administration building where the staff so lovingly takes care of matters for the Ranchers. If you show up early in the morning, it could be one of the staff who greets you warmly as they are starting up the vans to run Ranchers to their jobs off campus. Sometimes it’s the garden crew who has worked so hard on beautification near the entrance by moving rocks and preparing soil for plants to grow with beautiful flowers.
In those moments, a sincere greeting is offered. That is the ever-present spirit on the ranch, that each person is valued, greeted and acknowledged, just like God wants to do with us each day. Sometimes, even if it’s been years since you have been there, your name will be called out by a Rancher in the first few minutes. This has occurred sometimes with visitors who haven’t been back to the Ranch in years.
As you wander around, names will be called out between the Ranchers and staff. People are recognized and valued. Greetings of care are shared between individuals. Greetings for greetings’ sake, but because of a culture in which each person is one of worth who can make all the difference in the world.
It was in 1972 when I first heard the words, “God makes no junk.” They were said in the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Fullerton by Rev. Ralph Showers, the founder of Rainbow Acres. Those words stuck with me throughout my years of pastoral ministry and helped to create a desire to value all persons. As I witness Gary Wagner, our President/CEO, interact with Ranchers and employees, and the staff interact with Ranchers and each other, all persons on the Ranch are valued and of intrinsic worth.
As the circle of life continues, those words come back to me every time I pass through those Ranch gates. Upon arrival, even after a seven-hour drive, I may feel like junk. Yet, I soon learn that I am treasured, loved, appreciated and cared for by greetings that make all the difference in the world.
As the Ranchers exhibit the love of God for me and for others, they are living reminders of the mysterious life-changing love of God for each one of us in this world. Will you partner with the Ranchers in living out a life that reminds others of God’s love for them, even when they do not yet realize that gift in their own life stories?