The lives of more than 600 children would have been very different were it not for one man’s dream 40 years ago.

The lives of more than 600 children would have been very different were it not for one man’s dream 40 years ago.

That dream was to create a safe space and a new start for children. From that dream, the Shiloh Christian Children’s Ranch developed. The ranch, located in rural Shelby County, provides a productive way for children to connect with loving home parents.

Many children may have continued living in abusive homes, if they’d not been accepted into Shiloh homes. Because the children were able to live in Shiloh homes, they enjoyed loving parents, a quality education, and an open path to college and careers.

Thanks to Shiloh, the voices of 600 children speak out and share stories of hope, love and belonging.

“Shiloh…this place means so much to me,” a Shiloh child shared. “To me Shiloh means a new start, because that is exactly what I received when I showed up.”

The children in this story were not identified because many come from dangerous situations.

“Shiloh isn’t just a place for children to go to get away from certain situations,” a former Shiloh child said. “It’s a place to call home and to find acceptance. Shiloh saved my life. I truly believe I wouldn’t be alive had I not gone to Shiloh. I found the love that I needed to fill a void in my life in the people there.”

And that is cause for celebration for Shiloh Christian Children’s Ranch in its 40th anniversary year.

“Shiloh began to provide a caring home for neglected or abused children when they need it most,” Shiloh’s Jay Craig said. “What a joy to know how many lives have changed because of the work of a group of loving people.”

Today, as many as 50 children ranging in age from birth to 18 years are cared for by loving home parents in six Shiloh homes. The spacious ranch sites are in rural Clarence and Kahoka, Mo. The sites include livestock, gardens and ponds which provide opportunities for children to learn, grow, overcome their past and have fun.

The homes are where the healing starts, but it takes a community and education for any child to thrive, which is where Shiloh shines.

Shiloh’s youth attend public schools, area Christian academies, are home-schooled, or attend Shiloh’s own Christian School and receive tutoring and counseling on an as-needed basis. Shiloh averages two to three high school graduates each school year, who attend Bible College, secular college, vocational school, armed forces or go directly to work.

During Shiloh’s 40 years of existence, families, children, supporters and surrounding communities will celebrate the organization’s impact.

For more information about the ranch and its mission, visit www.shilohranch.org .