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by Mike Avitt
I spent a week at a horse ranch/resort in rural Madison County and I felt compelled to share with you what I’ve learned and experienced.
Wildwood Hills Ranch of Iowa was started in 2001 and is located four miles west of St. Charles, Iowa. It is a 470 acre, faith-based facility designed to help “at risk” youths and veterans. The ranch served more than 1,000 clients last year. The grounds consist of cabins, meeting halls, bunk houses, storage buildings, offices, a dining hall, a work shop, and an indoor equine arena. The arena is very large with stables on the west end and a lobby on the east end complete with offices and a game room. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is conducted at this arena and Wildwood Hills Ranch has a drill team that performs in parades and fairs.
Swimming, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and an obstacle course are a few more activities at the ranch. Wildwood is open all year so there are winter activities, too.
But, Wildwood Hills is about much more than what I’ve described so far. Wildwood Hills is about transforming lives by instilling spiritual, leadership, and job skills in youth over a ten year period. Programs centered on life skills, financial literacy, and team building are conducted. Youth begin some of these programs as early as eight years old.
Executive Director Matt Moeckl spoke to our group August 22nd and shared the history of the ranch as well as future plans. Mr. Moeckl has a deep desire to build an orphanage in the future. This may, at first, seem out of reach, but I would not be surprised to see it a reality and soon. Wildwood Hills Ranch is a non-profit with many corporate and individual sponsors and donors. Director Moeckl’s faith is another reason to believe he will see this dream come true. I invite the Record-News readers to learn more about Wildwood Hills Ranch or visit the ranch in person.
The facility is beautiful and spacious. The buildings were built to be attractive and multi-functional. I was very impressed with what I saw, heard, and learned.
The reason I was there was because MOVE (Men Of Vision Evangelize) Ministries had its first state-side mission trip here from August 15 to August 22 (August 23 and 24 were spent as a Christian Retreat). We painted, wired, plumbed, landscaped, built, sheet-rocked,and performed other assorted duties.
MOVE is missions organization partnered with Open Bible Churches Global Missions. This is the group I went to Trinidad and Tobago with in February 2018. This is not the first time MOVE has volunteered at Wildwood Hills Ranch, but this time we were more organized (MOVE is never 100% organized so don’t read too much into that statement).
We had MOVE members here from many places in Iowa, but also Illinois, Idaho, and California. MOVE members are not afraid to travel. Many of these men were on the Trinidad trip. We are planning to go to Costa Rica in January 2020.
We worked, ate, and ate well, prayed, sang songs of praise, and played together in the name of Jesus. It was an uplifting week to say the least. I even went to Des Moines and visited with Mike and Pam Lumbard, who are the permanent missionaries in Trinidad, and it was there that I first met them.
There are many church groups and other organizations who come to Wildwood Hills Ranch to work and volunteer and the MOVE Ministry team is grateful to be one of them. Our adopted Bible verse is Matthew 5:16 which says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”