Back of Beyond Equine Centre

A Journey To Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch

A personal experience written by Cathy Foyston

The Journey Begins

My trip to Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, in Bend Oregon, began on an average, cold winter morning while I was listening to a Focus on the Family radio show. I don’t usually listen, because I am busy at that time of day, but for some reason this day was different and I heard the full radio show and the second part again the next day.

I was absolutely captivated as I heard Kim Meeder speak about how she and her husband Troy provided, at Crystal Peaks, a safe and positive experience for children and families to learn about the saving hope of Jesus Christ, with their horses. I thought, WOW, maybe this is something that could happen here at Back of Beyond!

I saw, on the Crystal Peaks website, they had a 4 day Similar Ministries Training opportunity coming up in May. As a participant, I would learn how they started their ministry and be given the nuts and bolts information that would assist us here at Back of Beyond to run a similar ministry – a ministry that would provide an opportunity for individuals to connect with horses as a means to experience who God really is, to experience healing hope in Jesus and to develop a greater understanding of Scriptural truths about the Lord as written in the Bible.

I thought for a few days about going to Oregon to take part in their Similar Ministries Training, but after checking google maps and realizing how far it was, I put the matter completely out of my mind. It was several weeks after that the Holy Spirit clearly said “You are to go to Crystal Peaks”. I argued a little bit, I am ashamed to say – it is so far, I don’t like to fly, I am sure I will not learn anything new. The Holy Spirit was insistent. Then I remembered Abraham and how he left everything to follow God’s directive. I booked a flight for myself and a friend.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

It looked like a done deal. A 9 hour flight with one stop, a few days sightseeing, a few days at Crystal Peaks and home; quite easy, quite doable, fun and informative. However, God had other plans.

For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the LORD,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Six weeks before we were to go, I came down with a very bad case of the flu, followed by severe vertigo – my doctor said flying was out of the question. The trip to Oregon was off.

Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you. (Psalm 102:1 NIV)

However, as I prayed about it and resigned myself to not going, the Lord made a way, just as He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites.

…all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through on the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (Exodus14:21-22 NIV)

Incredibly, my dear friend offered to drive our truck across the country – just over 4,000 km one way! As the departure date approached, I felt a bit healthier and the trip was back on.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

We started our trip in high spirits, however, as the trip progressed we realized what a long way 4,000 kilometres really is. I began to be sicker and sicker with each passing kilometre. However, each time we thought about turning back the Lord said:

‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’ (Isaiah41:10 AMP)

So, we persevered and kept on going. It got harder and harder as I got sicker and sicker, but the Lord strengthened us each time we despaired of ever getting there. We held on to the words of Jesus:

This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. (John 11:4 NKJV)

I learned to trust the Lord, lean only on Him and remember His promise that

Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. (PSALM 30:5 AMP)

Unbelievably, 6 and a half days later, only through the grace of God, we reached Crystal Peaks 15 minutes before the start of the training (Back of Beyond to Crystal peaks straight on travelling). I still don’t understand how that happened – Google maps must be mistaken as we were sure we would not make it in time but we did. Praise God.

And so we finally made it to Crystal Peaks – not in a blaze of glory as I had imagined but weak and wholly dependent on the Lord’s strength.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)

Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch is a very God honouring special place, where the power, grace and faithfulness of the Lord are on full display.

(As written on the Crystal Peaks website)

“In 1993, Kim and her husband Troy purchased the only piece of property in Central Oregon that they could afford: a nine-acre, abandoned cinder mine. The land was so completely ruined that no one else wanted it. Together, they began the rehabilitation process by collecting organic waste materials from neighboring ranches. 

For two years, the Meeders spread moldy hay, using stall shavings, and manure over the rocky floor of the mine to help create a nutritive base that would once again support life. Troy brought home broken and discarded trees, and in 1995, Kim brought home the first two broken and discarded horses. One had been starved to the point of near death, while the other had been beaten so badly that a vet was needed to suture her beautiful face. 

Shortly after the horse’s rescue, children began to find their way to Troy and Kim’s home. The kids came not for what they could get, but for what they could give. In their efforts to help the horses recover, something miraculous took place in the heart of each child. As they cared for the horses in need, healing began. Lives were being transformed by love. 

In 2013 Crystal Peaks was gifted 51 additional acres for the West Ranch and in 2015 another 40 acres for the North Ranch. 

Founded on hope, the ranch is a place where broken children, horses and families can find wholeness, belonging and trust. This richness is expressed through the healing embrace of God’s unconditional love”.

The sessions were great, with lots of practical and relevant information for programs at Back of Beyond. Information regarding natural horsemanship, volunteer programs, structuring individual sessions, herd management and accepting donations.

However, the most important take away was that my life is not about me. That God is calling me to something bigger than myself and I actually can’t do anything without the Lord. God calls me to maintain the balance between the vision/passion for Back of Beyond and my other responsibilities and to wait on Him patiently and to reorder my life based on His priorities.

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild (Proverbs 29:18 NLT)

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope. (Psalm 130:5 ESV)


My Personal Journey

During the training at Crystal Peaks, I continued to be mostly very sick. I prayed often. I gave my problem of how to get home, in the condition I was in, to Jesus and depended on Him to make a way. I was only barely walking with the help of a walker (very humbling) and not really eating much.

But God had a plan.

On the last day, I received a miraculous healing gift through Jesus.

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. (Acts 3:16 NIV)

But Jesus, hearing this, answered him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe and trust [in Me and have faith in My ability to do this], and she will be made well.” (LUKE 8:50 AMP)

All the lies and fears that I have lived in my whole life were blown up in that moment in an encounter with the living God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs3:5 NIV)

I began to learn to lean on and trust in the Lord as the rock of my salvation and leave the rest of the details up to Him.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24 NIV)

I came to recognize the fear and anxiety, that has been a part of my life for so long, has affected my wellbeing, health and relationships in detrimental ways.

But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! (Psalm 66:19-20 NIV)

I realized fear is “false evidence appearing real” and that the lies and deception are not from God. As a beloved, adopted daughter of God through belief in Jesus, I have been set free.

So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free. (John 8:36 AMP)

I stepped out of my walker and left it behind, climbed the steps to the cross, knelt down and worshipped the God that has shown me the love of Christ in the Gospel.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans5:8 ESV)

I walked down the hill and all the other 60 participants and staff witnessed the transformation and what the Lord had done.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11 ESV)

I left the walker at Crystal Peaks, I did not take any more medication. It was hard to stay in the truth at first but I knew;

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Christ) came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)

A Journey Home

So, we left Crystal Peaks for the long road home, playing loud worship music and singing praises to the Lord.

“Return home and tell [about] all the great things God has done for you.” So the man went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. (LUKE 8:39 AMP)

Day after day, kilometre after kilometre we slowly came back towards home. The journey seemed very long and often I had to fix my gaze again on Jesus and remember;

Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. (1 John 4:4 AMP)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

After five days, we finally made it to Winnipeg where God again provided for me. We thought we would have at least another 5 days driving across Ontario. However, my friend’s son and daughter in law offered to drive the truck to Hamilton for us so we could fly the rest of the way home. So we did.

I still don’t like flying but the blood of Christ covers even that.

 So, our great adventure was over but what a testimony to the Lord’s greatness, mercy, provision and faithfulness. What an experience in learning that God’s leading is sometimes hard and costly but is always worth it.

I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. (Psalm 146:2 NIV)

I realized there really is no place like home. This is the mission field the Lord has placed me in to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the hurting and lost through the horses.

My prayer is that I will always remain in creaturely servitude to the Lord, lay down my pride and unbelief and let Him be God until He calls me home. I pray that I will continue to follow the Spirit’s leading even when it seems hard and trust in the promises of God. I am sure His transforming work is not done in me yet and I will stumble and fall again but;

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Mathew 14:29 -31 NIV)

Jesus saves. He is the great Physician. He will not abandon or forsake me, of that I am certain.

Praise God that He has opened my eyes to see and my ears to understand the truth in the Bible.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:10 ESV)

Praise God for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross by dying for me. That His death and resurrection has closed the gap that my sin has formed between myself and God. Praise God that;

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

And that this is not dependent upon me but upon my loving God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your doing it is a gift of God, 9 not as a result of works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8 – 9 ESV)

My healing was miraculous and I am so grateful and overwhelmed by Jesus’s awesome gift.

But I know the even greater gift is in the Gospel. My salvation through belief in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. This gift of salvation is available to all who believe, ask for forgiveness of their sins, accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and decide to follow Him!!

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. (Psalm 29:1-2 NIV)

I am very grateful to be home, and I will always remember Crystal Peaks, what I discovered and what God did for me there. I learned so much on the journey and saw His provision and sheltering hand every step of the way.

I have a greater compassion for others and a new awareness of the value of community (I could not have gone without my dear friend). The most important thing I learned was to follow God wherever He leads, trusting in His promises and to remember that Back of Beyond and my life belong to Him.

What will happen in our Missions program at Back of Beyond this summer? That is up to God; however, I am excited to see what He will do, who He will bring to the horses and how He will show up.

For no word from God will ever fail. (Luke 1:37 NIV)

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 ESV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)