God Leads The Chosen Ranch Team
A discussion between Maureen Castern-French and Frank Dimercurio about his new book "Hitman for Christ" and how God provides what we need.
Summary: God leads The Chosen Ranch team. It is not like any other non-profit I know. The organizational structure, the finances and the long-term strategy are all determined by God day-by-day. God is the head, not Frank or any of the others who have devoted years to this group. What will happen next? Where will the funding come from for accepting a new young person into the ranch? God knows, literally!
I was impressed and inspired by the honesty of Frank Dimercurio’s book “Hitman for Christ”. Having prior experience with non-profit organizations, I wanted more detailed information on The Chosen Ranch. Frank sat down with me and answered the following questions:
1. Your book closes with the first open house at the Ranch. How many young people you have helped since then?
We have had about 10 boys at the Ranch over the past years. They come from our county, Alcona, but also from other places in Michigan. We make to each the following promises: We will love you. We will never lie to you. We will give you clear boundaries, don’t cross them. We will stick with you to the end. You will always have a home. So far, with the help of God, we have been able to keep these promises to each boy. Just like your own children some take different amounts of time to “leave the nest”.
Many hundreds of children who do not live with us have participated in Chosen Ranch events that help support kids, and bring them closer to God. We have had many youth groups from around Michigan come out to the ranch for summer mission trips. Other church groups come for work bees and we have annual gatherings that we call Fellowships at the ranch which are like giant open houses. We have barbeques, tours, apple pressings, fireside chats, bible studies, holiday parties, graduation celebrations, equine therapy, snowmobiling, sledding parties, youth outreaches, praise and worship services, gardening parties and others. If you include adults, who are also children of God, the number would be in the thousands.
2. How did you structure your organization in order to purchase the ranch and begin helping boys?
There were lots of wrong turns in my life until God sent me to the local court. I would sit in the back and pray for the kids. I asked the judge to give the kids to me so I could prevent them entering the ‘system” where they would just receive an associate’s degree in crime. At first I just met with kids to hang out and get to know them. Eventually I met people willing to help. Our organization looks like the back of a needlepoint project: just a mass of loose strings that makes little sense. Then when you turn the project over, you can see the lovely pattern that God made of our work!
3. How have you funded the ranch and community center?
Everything I have ever had is the Lord’s. Jinny and I do not believe in a 10% tithing limit. We invested our own funds to upgrade the ranch and have our names on the mortgage. Jinny and I sold our business and used these funds and our personal credit in order to do this. We have no funding strategy but believe in being personally generous and trusting in God. We take care of our families first, but also take care of the mission of The Chosen Ranch.
4. What keeps you going? How do you refresh when exhausted?
I don’t refresh. I am often up at night praying. That’s my time to talk to God. I never really run dry, but I am encouraged to continue by thinking of our “victories” – the times when we have taken a kid out of the muck and mire of his home life and helped to turn his life around to give him a positive future.
5. How do you manage volunteers?
Experience has taught me to not put people on pedestals. People will always disappoint you eventually. Only God goes on a pedestal and the volunteers serve God, not me.
6. What does God give you to help you do what you do?
I walk with the Lord and I have found that you can never out-give God. Checks show up when needed, mechanics show up when equipment breaks down, doctors appear when a kid is sick. I call Him a “just in time God”. He helps settle me down when I am angry and just want to take out a bad guy who has hurt kids. God made me want to be a better man. I am doing better with this, but still struggle with those in the judicial system who are supposed to be helping, but who oppose our work. I identify with Peter as I am impulsive, and I identify with Barnabas as I am an encourager.
7. How do you hear from God?
Practice! Stay in the Word of God. I read the Bible each morning and through the day I ask “How does that line up with God”? When I am discouraged, I think of the cross and what Christ went through for me. That gives me motivation and energy – a purpose.
8. How do you get the courage you need to turn your whole life up to the will of God?
I do it afraid. I know that someday I will be standing in front of God and answering to Him. Whenever I am thinking, “People will laugh, call me a Jesus freak, destroy my image to my friends, God answers, “And this matters how?" I only need the approval of the One! I am not perfect – far from it. I am but a sinner saved by His grace. I continually ask for His forgiveness and I am not afraid to ask for the forgiveness of those who feel that I have offended them.
9. What special gifts were you born with that help your work?
· I am a good speaker and writer.
· I am able to look at fear and still go forward.
· I feel God’s presence. I remember His name.
· I am loyal to God and to people. I first, defend someone from attack but ask them about their contribution to the conflict afterwards, when they are safer.
· I can keep going in the face of “no’s”, due to my trust in the Lord.
· I am sensitive to people’s feelings and needs which allows me to help them. This is a gift, but also a burden, as I feel their rejection deeply as well.
10. What does Jinny contribute?
I could not have accomplished what I have without her. The Lord sent out his disciples 2 by 2. Eve was a “workmate” to Adam. We work as a team. When we started our day spa/salon early in our relationship that was a training program for us. We made plenty of mistakes then. There is no such thing as a free education. We have to pay for our mistakes and our education.
11. What is your long-range vision?
It is simple – the future lies in trusting God to lead us. When I first began this work I began developing my replacement. Also, I always say “Don’t marry brick and mortar”. Our vision is to help all of God’s children, no matter how young or old they are.
12. Do you have any partnering organizations?
There are churches and people who regularly support our work, but our #1 Partner is the Lord.
13. What advice do you have for those who are inspired to turn their lives over to God as fully as you and Jinny have done?
Call out to God each morning and show up to the “God appointments” that He makes for you along the way. Talk to our Lord at all times of the day and night. He wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives. For those who have read my book, take “Frank” out and put your name in and write your story. Make sure it leads readers to the salvation story at its end. Your particular purpose will show up and He will use you. If you can make the difference in just one person, if you can be used to lead just one more soul to Christ, you will have a life worth living and full of purpose.