That connection launched a small grassroots movement that began with a couple of volunteers, 2 horses, and a few children who needed a safe place to find connection and community. Over the last 11 years, Refuge has grown into a vibrant organization serving over 50 children each season in our Bits of Hope mentoring program and a dozen or so more through our Freedom Reins special needs riding program. Additionally the Ranch serves many like-hearted community organizations such as Grounds of Grace - Overcoming Human Trafficking, Big Brother/Big Sister of central Illinois, Compass for Kids, local foster care agencies and many more. 

Welcome to the home of Refuge Ranch, a beautiful horse ranch located in central Illinois, just southeast of the state capitol, Springfield. At Refuge, our prayer is that hurting people will find hope, safety, and healing through the unconditional love of Jesus. Children need a place to run, play, make noise, and simply be kids. Adults are longing for a place of rest and reprieve from busy schedules and chaotic lives. The truth is, we are all looking for Refuge!

Refuge was founded in 2008 by Stephen and Chris Daniels for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with at-risk youth. Having served for several years on the south side of inner-city Chicago, Chris and Steve had seen the power that human/animal interaction had to break down walls with kids who had a difficult time trusting and connecting. When they returned to central Illinois and purchased a small horse farm, they began to ask the Lord how the property could be used to help others find hope and healing. A friend shared with them about a ministry in central Oregon who had been doing just that  for the last fifteen years. Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch ( had not only built an effective ministry by pairing at-risk youth with the Ranch’s rescued horses, but had begun to train and equip ranches all over the country to do the same. 

About Refuge Ranch

We have moved from our original property, a small 4 acre farm in Pawnee, IL, to a beautiful 17 acre campus just outside of Lake Sangchris State Park in Rochester, IL. The new property offers a 2 acre pond for fishing and canoeing, a large indoor riding arena, and ample space for our horses, chickens and gardens!     

Each season, the Ranch encounters people who have walked through horrific trauma and pain. It has been an incredible privilege to join them in their journey as they find hope and healing that can only come through Jesus. At Refuge, He uses the beauty of His creation, the redemptive power of service, the connection of mentoring and the gift of community to heal, restore and redeem the stories of the courageous children and women we have the joy to walk alongside.   

We are so glad you found us! Please browse our site to learn more about our programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can partner with us. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you!

1. We believe that the Bible, God’s authoritative, written word, is the ultimate guide for our values, attitudes, and behaviors.
2. We seek spiritual maturity by maintaining a personal devotional life, participating in worship and prayer with others, and being involved in the life and ministry of a local church and other Christian community.
3. We seek to be involved in ministering to social and spiritual needs both within and beyond our communities.

4. We seek to respect the uniqueness of all people, including our differences in race, sex, ethnicity, and talents, for each bears God’s image.
5. We encourage cultivation of the attitudes and behaviors of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
6. We renounce unbiblical attitudes, including greed; jealousy; false pride; lust; covetousness; an unforgiving spirit; and unjust prejudice such as that based on race, sex, ethnicity, appearance, disability, or socio-economic status.
7. We renounce unbiblical behaviors, including deception, malicious speech, drunkenness, drug abuse, stealing, cheating, and other immoral conduct such as using pornography and engaging in sexual relations other than within a marriage between one man and one woman.
8. We acknowledge that every person has engaged in attitudes and behaviors that fall short of God’s standards, and we rejoice in God’s forgiveness to all repentant believers. 
9. We acknowledge the Biblical mandate to treat all persons with love and respect, even if we disagree over these values, attitudes, and behaviors.
10. We intend to follow, when conflict arises or shortfalls in attitudes or behaviors occur, a Biblical process for correction, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration.
Core Values:
Service: We believe that service is not only a necessary Christian discipline, but that in actively pouring our lives out for the sake of others we experience the fullness of hope and healing that comes through Christ’s redemption of our own lives.

Relationships: We believe that the quality of our relationships with others is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. How we love and respond to those around us is the most core expression of our faith in action.

Diversity: We believe and celebrate that the Body of Christ is diverse and beautiful – consisting of every tribe, tongue and nation and that unity supersedes denominational and theological differences among those who profess to follow Jesus Christ.

Empowerment: We believe that every individual is created in the image of God and as such has intrinsic value and worth. We are committed to empowering individuals to find and use their unique gifts and abilities in constructive ways that impact the world and people around them.

Discipleship: We believe that Discipleship is a core component of the Christian faith. We are committed to intentionally walking alongside of individuals as they grow in their faith, in knowledge, and in grace toward becoming wholly devoted followers of Christ.

Statement of Faith