With the long-anticipated groundbreaking at The Sanctuary behind us, Andrew and Charis Bible College look forward to a bright future for the new campus in Woodland Park, Colorado. For two years, this blog has shared Andrew's heart and vision for the property and covered the process by which the ministry has undertaken this project. Previous owners of the property also had hopes and dreams for the land on which CBC's new buildings will sit, and as God would have it, the desired outcome is very much the same—that it would be a place dedicated to the glory of God.
Red Hawk Ranch
Red Hawk Ranch, as it was known before AWM purchased it, and Andrew and Jamie renamed it The Sanctuary, was owned by Gilbert S. Jackson and his family. Gilbert, who acquired the land in 1990, had always thought of himself as a Christian, but it wasn't until two weeks before he passed away that he truly received Jesus as his Savior.
After the celebration of Gilbert's 74th birthday, he lay in bed hurting and frustrated as he struggled with the pain and symptoms of cancer. As his nighttime nurse's aide, Merline, comforted him, she commented to him that as far as she knew Gilbert was only missing one thing in his life. Anxious to hear what she thought, he asked her to tell him what he lacked. Merline shared Christ with Gilbert, and in the moments that followed he was born again.
Gilbert said he, "saw Jesus," and the experience was so tangible to him that it noticeably changed him. In the days that followed Gilbert could hardly contain his happiness. Although he was bedridden, he sought to share his experience with everyone he knew including his daughter, Debbie Jackson Littlestar. When Debbie arrived at his house, Gilbert wanted to tell her all about his salvation experience. "I had never seen such deep joy on my dad's face and in his eyes—such amazement and love," shared Debbie.
After being born again, Gilbert told Debbie and her husband, Mark Littlestar, that he wanted all of his properties to go to Christian endeavors. As Debbie recalled conversations with her father, she shared that he was a visionary. She said Gilbert would sit and brainstorm for hours about the future of Woodland Park, and he encouraged his family to do the same. On one such occasion, Gilbert shared his heart for education and learning and how he dreamed of having a school on the 157 acre property. Gilbert had even imagined having a school with glass walls so that the students could feel like they were outside while learning.
After Gilbert passed, Debbie handled her father's affairs and managed his assets both in Colorado and in Texas. In 1996 Debbie and Mark decided to build a home on the ranch, the house Andrew calls the Lodge, with the intent of living there forever, raising their two daughters, Sarah and Krissy, and sharing it with people from all over the world. "We were involved in international missions with various organizations and hoped to share this blessing with our friends and family as they traveled through Colorado," said Debbie.
As the Littlestars began the process of building their home, a couple of missionary friends visited and offered to pray over the property and the project. "The four of us stood back-to-back, facing in all four directions, and we prayed out loud for the property to be used by God to glorify Himself and further His Kingdom," Debbie shared.
Their prayer time, which included blessing the future builders, took place on the spot that would eventually accommodate their house. Ironically this was the same site that had served as the dump for the ranch for the previous 50 years. "It's a great metaphor for restoration and redemption, isn't it?" suggested Debbie.
Over the course of the building project many hands worked on the home and the accompanying outbuildings. Their efforts created a special place for all to feel welcome and open to feel God's presence. Among those who contributed to the home's beauty was 80-year-old master craftsman, Bob Flett. He was hired to place the log beams inside the home. Debbie recalled with fondness, Bob's gentle spirit and soft godly manner. The Littlestars also shared that Bob had prayed over each beam as he worked with them.
Although the Littlestars' plans changed and they sold the property in the latter half of 1999, their prayers and desire for the ranch live on through Andrew's vision for the property. Looking back on her father's creative thinking, Debbie said, "This is the answer to our prayers and our desire for Dad’s dying wishes to be fulfilled."
With construction underway at The Sanctuary, Gilbert's dreams for Red Hawk Ranch and Andrew's vision for CBC's new campus are becoming a reality. Continue to check back as we bring you updates on the construction progress at this place dedicated to the glory of God.