September 2010 – “My husband was killed in 1990,” said Shea Lowery, director of Quinn’s Ranch in Red Bay, Alabama. “I was a stay-at-home mom with two children. After he died, God began to call me into full-time ministry. While I went to Blue Mountain College in preparation, a family member went though an abusive situation. I was getting ready to go to seminary but God was opening a mission field in my own back yard. I began to ask God to allow me to open a safe place for battered women and abused kids.”
Lowery’s vision soon began to focus on boys who needed a safe place to call home. Ann Vinson, a fellow church member, heard about Lowery’s dream and decided to donate her home and the 10 acres it sat on.
After Vinson moved out, Lowery began giving tours of the empty house, trying to communicate her passion and showing people where the boys’ home would be. On one such tour, a lady who worked in a furniture factory was present. She went back to work, shared Lowery’s needs, and the factory furnished three rooms free of charge.
Thus Quinn’s Ranch was off and running. Lowery will never forget the first call to come pick up a boy in need. “This boy – I can still see his face,” she said. “He was real skinny and had been through so much. He was not living in a good situation. I remember sitting on the swing with him, and he began to cry. He was 15 years old, and you just don’t see many boys that age cry. He kept saying, ‘I just want a home, I just want a chance.’ I loaded him up and brought him here. He left before we really wanted him to but he stayed here four years and did really well.”
Many individuals and groups have given in surprising and sacrificial ways. For example, Lowery said, “Everyone needs a Walter.” Walter Lewis was a University of Alabama football standout and became a leading proponent of the ranch. He shared God’s Word and His principles with Lowery and taught her about being a leader.
Another story she told was of a younger boy. “We got a call from a judge to pick up a nine-year-old little boy,” she said. “He had been roaming the streets until 11 at night. His parents were incarcerated. We picked him up and had him for two or three weeks before Christmas. One morning he came running into the living room and said, ‘Guess what my brother got for Christmas! He got a warm bed!’ That boy accepted Jesus last year at a youth camp. All we did was try to be a Walter to him.”
One of Lowery’s gifts is to know when a boy is scarred in places too deep for her to minister to. For that boy, another team member is brought in. Lowery said, “We have a social worker who does a great job. Her husband is a pastor in North Alabama and everything is biblical with her.” She makes friends with the boys and talks with them about Scriptures that apply to whatever they’re going through, more like a counselor than a social worker.
“We had a first-grade boy who had been held down in scalding water for punishment,” she said. “He told his teachers how that broke out his skin. He wasn’t telling on his parents, he was just telling what it did to his skin. For cases like this we bring in professional help.”
While the goal of Quinn’s Ranch is to bring these boys to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and experience the healing only He can bring, they also want the boys to have the childhood they deserve. They roam and create adventure on the ranch property, they play sports at school, and they attend church as a family.
“Our long-term goal is to open a girls’ home,” Lowery said. “And I’d love to open a moms’ home too, just to help them get on their feet.”
Since the economy has declined, the ranch has suffered financially.
“We were hit harder than we have ever been hit before,” Lowery admitted. “It’s been a faith test.” But she perseveres and trusts God’s provision for the boys He puts under her care.
Quinn’s Ranch is a 501(c)3, so donations are tax-exempt. Current needs:
• Work teams
• Time spent with boys
For more information:
P.O. Box 148
Red Bay, AL 35582