The seed for Spark of Hope was first planted almost 10 years ago when Anna was lent a copy of the book “Hope Rising” written by Kim Meeder. Kim and her husband Troy run a charity in the USA called Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch – a place where abused and neglected horses are nursed back to health by children – some of which themselves have come from places of brokenness and despair. The book had an incredible effect on Anna, who began to imagine a similar ministry here in Australia. However, Anna’s greatest desire is to always remain in step with God. As a result, her simple prayer was “God, is this dream from you…”
Fast forward to 1st January, 2013 – Anna was given a gift from a friend in her local church who had no idea of Anna’s simple prayer. The friend had been praying and felt the words “hope rising” drop into her heart. Not knowing what the words meant but firmly believing that they were from God, she did what so many of us do when we want to find out more – she googled it! Her internet research led her to Crystal Peaks and the book “Hope Rising”. As she read about the ministry and the book, she felt God speak to her again. His words to her were simple and yet oh so poignant – “buy the book for Anna and tell her it is from me…”
The last couple of years have seen lots of planning and preparation (including a trip to the USA to visit Crystal Peaks). The journey has been exciting, and as is the case for so many journeys, it has had its challenges. Time and again, when the doubts rise, Anna has returned to those simple words from God “It is from me…” to both sustain and encourage.
A gifted teacher and communicator she has started to document the journey in her blog “Running With Horses”. When she is not designing logos, setting up websites, exploring funding opportunities, organizing board meetings and receiving insurance quotes, she enjoys nothing more than spending quiet time with Barry and their horsey friends, Spark, Flynn, Charlie and Smokey.
For many years, Barry was happy to stay on the sidelines and cheer Anna on. Fully supportive of all that she was doing, he really couldn’t see how a someone with almost no horse experience could possibly help in this venture. All that changed during their visit to Crystal Peaks – on a mild northern hemisphere summer’s morning, God captured Barry’s attention and showed him what his role was to be. Suddenly, Spark of Hope was no longer “Anna’s ministry” – it was now “our ministry.”
A quiet, compassionate person, with a keen ear to hear the voice of God and speak that word to those around him, Barry is driven by a desire to help others know God as their friend. He has incredible empathy for those who are hurting and very much “weeps with those who weep”. He has also come to appreciate the lessons that horses can teach so many of us. A keen student he has set out to learn as much as he can about horses and would say that his best teacher and mentor is Sparky, the Australian Stock horse owned by Anna and Barry.