The following story is from Jacquelyn Grant, Founder of Cross Rails Ministry in Charleston, SC, recipient of a MALIM organizational grant:
Our first Cross Rails mobile outreach was this past Saturday, March 14th. It has taken me a few days to process what God did in our first outing. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, I knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be. We were divinely appointed to be there and more importantly, so were our horses! The first memory I have is ringing that doorbell. The door was opened by one of the staff members, but my gaze was drawn upward. There, crowded together, at the top of the stairs, were six excited faces. They were so eager to get a glance of the four legged friends we had brought with us! As we were welcomed into the house, the place was a buzz with excitement and there was a palpable feeling of hope in the air. Something good was going to happen today!
We started our session with two groups of girls. I was with the younger girls and some of the other volunteers were with the older girls. We played games, had a lesson about how horses can teach us humility, learned grooming, learned how to mount and dismount from a horse, worked on balance, and had lots of laughs. The girls were so engaged and had a ton of questions! On the surface, it looked like a perfect day of fun and horses. And it was! But, if you looked deeper, there was also so much more going on. God was definitely at work on this day. We shared our rescued horses’ stories and the girls really connected with them. They chose their horse and they really did begin to form bonds with them. It was so amazing to watch them go from shy and unsure to confident and happy that they had a made a new friend. In the beginning, the girls were hesitant to touch the horse and stated numerous times that they didn’t know the horse so they didn’t trust them. By the end, they were loving and hugging all over the horses. They felt they had bonded with the horse and started saying the horse was their friend, calm, friendly, and gentle.
I watched these beautiful, brave girls face their fears and get on the horse they had chosen. I watched them turn from hesitant and shy to loving and excited about getting to know their new friend. I watched them hug and kiss and love on these horses and I visibly saw walls being torn down. I watched these horses stand patiently and lovingly, letting these girls love all over them. I looked into their eyes and I knew they knew the important work they were doing. I watched God show me that He is always at work healing, restoring, and redeeming. He is the God of ALL hope and He is using his creation to let hope arise. It was a beautiful day and God moved deep in all of our hearts. I am so thankful for the healing, for the hope, for the laughter, and for the relationships that were built that day. And, I am now filled with an urgency for CRM to get their own trailer so that we can visit these girls on a more consistent basis and build these relationships between those who are hurting and rescued horses! I am confident the work we are doing is important and needed and am praying for more volunteers to come alongside us in this important work. To God be the glory for all He has done, is doing, and will do!