To Supporters of Jacob's House at Thunder Ranch
When I read the passage in James 1:27: Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress . . . one admirable woman always come to mind. Penny Robichaux-Koontz Penny doesn't just visit orphans. She brings troubled, abused, or neglected children into her home and into her heart. She has rescued and nurtured thousands of youngsters who had little hope of a decent future until they landed at Jacob's House at Thunder Ranch, non-government-supported private placement home in Chestnutridge, Missouri.
As a many-times visitor to Thunder Ranch, I have observed Penny's wisdom in dealing with rebellious or emotionally traumatized youth. She is nothing less than gifted. I say this as high school teacher who is well acquainted with behavior challenges. Penny steers children from wrong to right by her undaunted dare-to-love and also to-discipline approach . These youngsters first begin to feel secure from the threat of abuse or lack. They begin learning to trust again and more importantly, they earn the privilege of being trusted.
Educating and providing health care is immense, but not Penny's only goal. Her kids learn their responsibility to earn and more importantly to give.I have watched Penny as she dealt with a young girl from another country, who complained that the "wealthy people" (those who drove cars) never stopped to help the children living in the squalor of poverty in her orphanage. Penny empowered that child by providing her the opportunity to earn money and then asking her, "Are you going to be one who stops?"
Planting seeds of hope and teaching children also to give hope to others is beyond the core values of most ordinary youth facilities.
I have watched Penny nurturing a youngster's musical talents and even providing her/him with opportunities to appear in a Branson musical show. She is about instilling big dreams.
Her own dreams didn't die when it would have been easier to let them go. World War II left her fatherless at age three. Then stricken by polio, she endured the torment of living for months in a body-cast, of learning to walk with braces, and the betrayal of being molested by a family member. She developed youthful beauty and experienced the joys of career success, marriage, motherhood and also the bitter sorrow of widowhood.
With a background such as that, no child can say to her, "You don't understand." She has a never-give-up strength, deeply-rooted faith and a contagious joy in the Lord.
Knowing the nature of children from a both a mother's and a teacher's perspectives, I have never seen one who didn't blossom under Penny's care during the years I have known her.
Stonecroft ministries inspirational speaker, faith writer, and board member of the Kingdom
Xperience ministry in Branson, Missouri
John Ford, Vice President of marketing and sales for Mylan pharmaceuticals (retired)