Sky Ranch entered its third year at the new location with a fully functional operation: ministry, staff, and facility. But there was a long way to go! It is impossible to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to empty beds. With the new cabins, there were empty beds in summer camp and on school year retreat weekends, and there was essentially no week-day usage. The previous year at this time, Sky Ranch was truly broke! No more money, no more credit. As Sky went into 1977 current bills were being paid, but just barely.
When Bob Kerstetter walked into the Dallas ranch office in January, essentially all I wanted to was to get him out of the office as quickly as possible. In a recent conversation, Bob described how he must have looked 30 years before, when we met. “I would have had shaggy hair, wire rim glasses which were decidedly not stylish, and a lazy eye – which wandered all over the place. Let’s not talk about my clothes!”
Strange duck though he looked to be, in a few minutes Bob was giving me his brief sales pitch: He wanted Sky Ranch to pay him $50 for each time he was able to get an article into a regular publication of any kind. There would be no cost to Sky other than to pay him the $50 placement fee. He assured me his work would provide good exposure to the general public. In our recent conversation Bob said I actually told him he just did not fit the Sky Ranch image we were working hard to create. I probably did! Bob persisted until I agreed to his proposition – just to get him out of the office!
The next week Bob returned to the office to show me an excellent article he had written for the Dallas Morning News summer camp insert. $50 please! In the next few months Bob brought in 21 articles he had gotten published in a variety of locations. Here is one example of how he worked. Bob used the fact that Sky Ranch ran a soccer camp during its first week of the summer as his means of getting an interview with the announcer of the Dallas Tornado soccer team, an interview which was heard by several thousand soccer fans. Great response!
About a month after Bob had gotten me to agree to his proposition, Bob walked into my office with a huge smile. I knew he had something special to tell me. “I have hit gold this time!” Bob had talked with Joe Camp the co-writer and the director of For the Love of Benji, produced by Mulberry Square Productions of Dallas, Texas. Sky Ranch was the charity selected by Mulberry to benefit from the Premier screening of the movie in Dallas on June 10th. In almost every article or interview on the movie Joe Camp told why Sky Ranch was the charity chosen to financially benefit. What Mulberry did was give Sky Ranch a large block of tickets to use for fund raising purposes. When it was announced that Lassie and a large number of other Hollywood personalities would be coming for opening night, the tickets became very highly sought after. Talk about great publicity – and money! Suddenly every camper bed for the summer was booked.
Beginning in the fall, Sky Ranch was the chosen location for the Dallas Independent School District’s outdoor education program. They rented the facility for almost every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the school year. Sky Ranch was operating at capacity!
I had tried to send away the person God had chosen to be His means of providing for Sky Ranch, just because of his looks. I did not recognize him as person who lived In Partnership With God.
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7