AT THE AGE OF 13

The Lord gave me a vision to open a Children's Ranch

The vision was actually birthed in the early 70’s and manifested itself in 1979 when I was in the Old Escambia Farms School Gymnasium. My family lived in the building, and I could walk out of the dining room door into the gym. I wondered why we couldn’t make a place for others to see the glory of the Lord in His provisions, and I dreamed of a boys' home where others could know and see the Refuge, Rest, and Renewal that God can and will give to those who seek him. The school building burned to the ground in 2003, but the dream remained. It was given new birth when Lillian Van Houten came to me and gave the dream a foundation in giving the property she had in Topsail State Park. This property was donated by deed to the newly birthed ministry of Triple R Ministries on April 26, 2013. Five years later, we sold it to David Schofield on March 14, 2018. On April 12, 2018, we purchased the Ranch property from Larry Looney! Five years to the month later. I point this out as God impressed on me that His plan included a five year wait when Miss Lillian donated the property.

Since the purchase of the Ranch, God has effectuated the following: a church in Crestview was donated, a partnership with SWAN Aviation was coordinated, and another donation provided the funding to buy the first home on the Ranch, the Hawkins' House, located adjacent to the South boundary of the 230 acres. Interestingly enough, this home was originally the teacherage at Escambia Farms School property where the vision was birthed. The Ranch also connects to the original property. We have been clearing property, planning with an engineer, envisioning the homes, and seeking wise counsel.

Since the purchase of the Ranch, God has effectuated the following: a church in Crestview was donated, a partnership with SWAN Aviation was coordinated, and another donation provided the funding to buy the first home on the Ranch, the Hawkins' House, located adjacent to the South boundary of the 230 acres. Interestingly enough, this home was originally the teacherage at Escambia Farms School property where the vision was birthed. The Ranch also connects to the original property. We have been clearing property, planning with an engineer, envisioning the homes, and seeking wise counsel.

We are currently talking with a potential first family about moving onto the ranch in the fall of 2020 into the Hawkins’ House.

Having never done this before, we have sought godly counsel, and the Lord led us to Big Oak Ranch near Birmingham. We have met with Big Oak’s Executive Director, Brodie Croyle, and Planting Oaks Director, Erin Woods. They have taken us under wing to facilitate the Ranch's opening. This is an amazing journey we feel privileged to be a part of, and it is only the beginning.

To our established friends, we appreciate your encouragement and wisdom concerning this vision over the past few years. To our new friends, we are so looking forward to the new relationships, encouragement, participation, and support in our future.


Thank you,

Mark Welton