Introducing Bear Creek Ranch
Bear Creek Ranch (aka BCR Ministries Inc) is the three-fold vision of a Retreat Center, Community Center, and Equipping Center founded by Tim and Katie Mather in 2007.
The Retreat Center exists to provide a place to engage the brokenness of the saints through deliverance and inner healing retreats.
The Community Center exists to connect families, clans, tribes, and nations in order to heal relationships with self, with others, and with God.
The Equipping Center exists to raise up Servant Kings through practical equipping and coaching for healthy Kingdom living.
View the FAQ page for more information...
THE HISTORY OF BEAR CREEK RANCH
by Tim Mather
"So, where is the creek?” The question has been asked hundreds of times. The answer is always the same, “There is no creek.” Then . . . “OK, you got some ‘splaining to do, Lucy.”
In November 2001, my son Lucas and son-in-law Kevin went deer hunting on our property in Montour Falls, NY. About an hour after daybreak, they saw a black bear limping through the woods. Since a bear permit is included with the big game permit in that part of the state, they decided to put her out of her evident misery. As the shot rang out, she fell into a small, unnamed runoff stream.
They rudely woke me up, demanding, “Hey, come see what we got.” And there she was, a three-hundred-pound bear, dressed out, and awaiting my reaction.
After closer inspection, a thought occurred to me, “Is it bear season?” We looked it up in the DEC handbook and discovered that, though Lucas had a bear permit, the season wouldn’t open until forty-eight hours hence.
“What do we do now?” he asked.
I said, “Well, you have a couple of options. You can go out in the woods and bury her; nobody will be the wiser. You can hang her in the barn and tag her when the season opens. Or you can confess to the DEC and see what happens. It depends on what your integrity will allow you to do.”
Lucas called the Game Warden and told him everything.
When the officer came to my house to collect the bear, he couldn’t stop praising Lucas for his integrity. “I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, and I’ve never had anyone tell me the truth like this.” He was genuinely astonished.
He quipped, “Listen, Lucas will live this down pretty quickly. But there is a guy just over the next hill who has been hunting for thirty years. On the first day of deer season he spotted two deer from his tree stand. He shot the first one and the second one just stood there. So, he killed that one, too. He excitedly ran to the place they had fallen and discovered that he had shot his neighbor’s two donkeys.”
He continued over our laughter, “He will never live that down. So, tell Lucas he has nothing to worry about.”
The Game Warden promised to tell the judge the whole story and ask for the smallest fine possible, since it could range from $500 to $4,000.
It turned out to be a $500 bear – we didn’t even get to make it a rug – and the stream into which she fell was dubbed Bear Creek.
Fast and Be Floored
In 1993, I was fasting and praying to hear some direction from the Lord for my personal walk and for our church. What I heard changed my life forever. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “Preaching, in its present form, nauseates me.” I wrote it down, horrified. For years I had said, “I exist six days, twenty-three hours every week just to do the one thing I love: preaching.”
He floored me with His statement.
I went through the process of testing the prophetic word. I knew it wasn’t me; I loved preaching. Why would it be the Enemy? Of course preaching nauseates him: it reaches the lost for Jesus. He wouldn’t say something so obvious.
I knew it was Father. (Read the rest of this story in Escaping Church.)
She Split My Lip
One day, my wife and I were having one of those discussions, you know, much too loud and way too emotional. Suddenly, she leaped at me with both fists flailing. One blow split my lower lip. As she punched, she shouted, "I will never tell you anything again! All you ever do is use it against me!" Somehow, I kept my composure and didn't strike back or even move to protect myself. Seeing I was just standing there, she came at me again, but I was ready to block her little fists. As suddenly as she had attacked, she backed off, and stood there with her arms folded staring angrily at me. I took a breath and became aware that the presence of God had filled the room. I pointed my finger at the bed and commanded, "Sit down!" Miraculously, she sat down and folded her hands in her lap like a little girl. She had never obeyed me so swiftly, so I knew something was happening that was beyond both of us.
I asked her, "What other secrets have you kept from me?" Suddenly, out poured her life, most of which I had never heard: a life filled with sexual abuse and destruction beginning at age three by a non-family member and continuing into her early teenage years. She had never shared this with anyone, not even with me, her husband of eighteen years. As it came gushing out, the compassion of Jesus flowed over me in that moment. We began what would be a five-year long process of healing. (Read the rest of this story in Out of Bondage.)
When we shared this experience and her subsequent deliverance with our church, I made a specific plea to the congregation. I invited only those directly affected by sexual abuse in their own lives to respond. When 75% of the adults came forward for prayer, our lives and ministry were transformed forever. We were thrown headlong into inner healing ministry.
House Church What?
We were planting a new church for the Assemblies of God in Elmira, NY when the two events above occurred. A third was lurking just around the next turn. We had been teaching and training our congregation as “Servants of Righteousness,” meaning, everyone in the Kingdom is a minister, not just the pastors.
What resulted was breaking up the assembly into a couple dozen house groups.
I was tasked with training the house group leaders. I had no idea what I was doing. I was a pastor with no concept of house church/cell groups/simple church/open church or any variation thereof. I prayed desperately every week that Father would tell me what to tell them.
He did, week after week, until a colleague of mine handed me a book and said, “Hey, here’s a guy who is doing the same thing. I guess you’re not the only heretic out there.” I was thrilled! We took the book, Open Church, and used it as a guide for doing house church.
After four months of equipping the laity to lead their own house groups, we released them into the adventure. No more Sunday morning services, just house groups meeting day by day from house to house. Sounds kinda biblical, right? (See Acts 2) (Read the rest of this story in Escaping Church.)
In 1994, we began to hear the Holy Spirit say, “Deliverance and Wholeness Center.” We thought we knew what it meant and He flooded our spirits with the vision of a center where seekers would come and undergo deliverance and receive counsel on living out their newfound liberty.
However, as is the case when serving in the Upside-Down Kingdom, the path led out of the church structure onto a traveling ministry instead of into a Center.
With our life-altering revelations in hand, we embarked upon our new adventure. Katie and I formed Set Free Ministries and traveled full-time doing deliverance and wholeness seminars training deliverance teams in local churches.
We continued to oversee the house groups, solving problems and sharing delights. Soon, we began to be called into other groups escaping the institutional church system around the country. We gladly accepted the task of midwifing them into their new world.
Year after year passed and still there was no Center.
For Christmas 2000, I bought Katie a saddle. When she saw it, she wept; it was a symbol of our vision. Within a few months, we moved into a new property, we knew it was the place: 240 acres of pristine land with a ramshackle house in Montour Falls, NY. Plans were laid for a lodge and cabins, and we negotiated with a national motel chain to build the hub of the new Deliverance and Wholeness Center.
Bear Creek Ranch was crowning; the vision was birthing!
Enter 9/11. The business people backing the project were no longer viable. We were extended beyond our ability to recover. Our ministry finances collapsed, and we were forced into personal bankruptcy.
The vision was in shambles.
Two Ministers Walk Into A Bar . . .
In our travels, we met Lynn and Linda Reddick. We spoke at some conferences together and we taught some classes at their training school in Portal, GA. Our hearts were knit together.
During a conference at a hotel in Ohio, the four of us sat down in the hotel bar/restaurant to eat dinner. The prophetic began to stir and we conspired to develop the training school into a college.
Back home at the Ranch, I wrestled my riding lawnmower over the expansive lawn and the Holy Spirit spoke so loudly I thought it was audible. “I didn’t tell you to buy this house,” He said.
“What? What does that mean?”
We had intended to move forward with our plans for the Center. Apparently, something wasn’t right. I shut the mower off and queried Him, “What do you mean by that?”
Silence. (I often wonder at the cryptic nature of prophetic word, don’t you?)
Strangers In A Foreign Land
One month later, we found ourselves living in Portal, GA in time for the 2004 Fall semester at Covenant Bible Institute. How it happened is a blur; that it happened remains a marvel.
“Ya’ll ain’t from here, er ya?” became the question of the year from the South Georgia natives among whom we now lived – our Yankee speech impediment was obvious. That was often followed by, “How do ya’ll get from New York to Portal?”
We were in a foreign land where strangers actually make eye contact and everyone drives white pickup trucks. So, we bought a pickup, but are still working on looking in the face of the people when they ask, “Howzyermomernem?” (Which being translated means, “How is your mother and them.” And yes, it’s all one word here.)
We put the vision of a deliverance and inner healing center to death and threw ourselves into our new life. As Academic Dean of the new Bible College, I invented the programs and courses for the growing student population. But after three years, we came to a watershed moment where we had to take the next leap toward government accreditation or to go in a different direction. It would cost several millions of dollars for the accreditation, several more for new accredited faculty, and several more millions in the college corpus. Since we only had several tens of dollars to our name, Father made His plan clear to everyone involved.
Born Again All Over Again
On March 1st of 2007, Lynn and Linda introduced us to a man who came to share a vision he had to create a boot camp. He wanted to do it through and with Covenant Bible Institute. As he shared what he had seen, Katie’s right leg shook, and all sorts of bodily fluids leaked from her head. We stared at him in horror: He was precisely describing our Bear Creek vision, you know, the one that never happened, that led us into bankruptcy, that we had put to death and mourned, and had finally put behind us.
The audacity! I was furious.
He didn’t want to do it; he just wanted to help fund it – he was a grant writer – and then move on to something else. He told us that he was in final negotiations to receive a $14,000,000 grant to make it happen.
I still didn’t want to pick it back up. It had cost us too much the first time. My emotions were raw. Katie, typically, was ready to get back to work fulfilling the old vision.
Two weeks later, we were in Hawaii at a conference – you know, suffering for the work of the Lord. In the first session, the first main point the speaker tossed up on the screen said, “Anything and everything will only succeed in the right environment.” He was talking to business entrepreneurs and ministry people. The first sub-point followed, “Anything and everything will only succeed in the right geographical environment.” Then, he said it: “Right vision; wrong location.”
Ever been hit in the forehead with a baseball bat? Imagine the spinning vision, the nausea. Father spoke; I blanched; Bear Creek Ranch rose from the grave.
The grant dissipated. It doesn’t matter why or how; it just plain disappeared. Here we were with empty hands and a vision in reruns. Once again, we pledged to be faithful in the small things and move ahead.
In coming to Georgia, our traveling ministry had dwindled to nothing. But, for some strange reason, more and more people came to us for deliverance. Katie coached them through our wholeness and inner healing follow-up, and by January 2008, a line had formed.
Katie decided – despite my objections – that we should bring them all together for a retreat instead of taking them through one by one as we had been doing for more than twenty-five years.
More people inquired; more retreats were scheduled. Our Deliverance Retreat was born. So, we accidentally backed into our Deliverance and Wholeness Center.
During this time, a whole new team of people began to appear. We trained deliverance teams, and team leaders, and put them to work.
Each time we scheduled a retreat, it filled up. We haven’t marketed it outside those on our existing database, yet new seekers appeared, seemingly out of nowhere.
Apparently, Father is behind this thing.
Portal is a town of less than six hundred people that barely appears on the map. But, people are being drawn here. Father loves the Bethlehems of this world. It’s the foolish things He uses to confound those of us who think we are wise.
Portal is that to me.
There is no creek here either. In fact, Bear Creek Ranch is not even a place yet, just a vision of a ranch providing freedom and liberty to those who find their way to us.
We were able to purchase a property here in Portal, ten acres with a double-wide mobile home on it. Now Katie was the queen of my double-wide (an obscure reference to a country song). The Lord compelled a few of our friends and ministry colleagues to share their blessings with us. So, we are supported like missionaries in a foreign land.
We have never had a pet; not a fish or a dog, although, to be perfectly candid, I did have a pet rock back in the 70’s. One day while driving down the dirt road on which we live, I heard a strange sound. I looked in the rearview mirror and there in the ditch were three puppies someone had abandoned. After living for a couple of weeks with the ADHD triplets, we gave two of them away.
We chose Hoss.
Once the pet-dam was broken, chickens soon appeared, followed closely by a couple of horses. Father has been prepping us for the ranch. Imagine if you will, this city-boy doing daily chores, and actually touching animals without the protection of rubber gloves.
Riding Off Into the Sunset
When we bought the 10-acre property, we did so with the idea that the house next door would one day be ours. The guy who owned it told us that he did the buy-fix-sell thing and he was fixing the old Scarboro house.
Though a variety of circumstances, he lost the house to foreclosure and the bidding war was on. The house and five acres came on the market for $45,000 which was the purest definition of mixed emotions – YAY! We can afford that! Mixed with – so can everyone else.
We quickly borrowed the funds and put in a full price offer, and so did they, so the bank told us to present our highest and best offer, a single bid to end it.
There might have been panic in the air.
We put out the word for help and friends from all over the place responded with gifts from $7 to a thousand or so. It was wonderful! Then, we got a call from some friends in New Zealand and he asked this question, “Would $25,000 help?”
Uh . . . yep!
We shot them our bid – $65,005 cash – and won! We have been rehabbing the house and preparing to finish off the guest house in anticipation of moving the retreats out to the ranch as soon as possible.
The Bunkhouse has been transformed. It now has seven bedrooms and five bathrooms. The neighbors across the road from us have abandoned their property, so we are in the process of buying that house and its six acres. It will provide three more rooms. All told, we have quickly secured thirteen guest rooms – plenty of room to house everyone coming to a retreat.
The last step to move the retreats out to the ranch we must rehab the large room in the Bear Moon Saloon as the teaching room. Our dining room and family room will provide plenty of room to eat and our kitchen is equipped to serve large groups. The two downstairs rooms of the Saloon will provide space for deliverance teams, so we are now making this happen.
We “cowboyed” up the Ranch with the addition of fences and archways. When completed, these will not only be for looks but will provide pasture for two more horses and some cows.
Ray and Teresa Maldonado who came from Chicago at the end of 2012, have taken up the role of Registrar and all-around chief cook and bottle washer.
We are finally able to move the whole retreat out to the Ranch. The Bear Moon Saloon is nearly finished, with just some trim, interior doors, and lights left to install. We were able to move the Wholeness Retreats out here in the last half of 2013 since the magic number of attendees is only twelve. Now, we have room for all fifteen Deliverance Retreat folks.
We have purchased the Ranch House across the road adding another six acres to BCR. It is being rehabbed and will provide three more guest rooms brining our total to fourteen.
With our interns, we are cleaning up the landscaping at the Poplar Springs guest house. We are building fence everywhere both for aesthetics and to provide more grazing land for the horses. The bunkhouse has just received its new air conditioning unit and the new roof is coming soon. After that comes the skirting. Then there’s the new barn …
Now it’s time to look at cabins. We have the design and the space and are waiting on the cash and the crew to build them. We want to add at least four cabins to extend our guest capacity.
Soon, we will be completing the walking trails through the woods behind the Ranch house and Livery.
The Nightmare We Called “2016”
2015 was a very good year. We set some records in the number of deliverances and the Wholeness retreats produced tons of folks who were able to get it and make significant changes in their lives and domains.
We started building Cowboy Town (the cabins) with the help of a few donors and it quickly took shape. The first building had four rooms designed to resemble storefronts in an 1800’s town, with a barbershop, Miss Patty’s Tea room, the Jail, and Haygood’s Dry Goods. Each sported large motel like rooms and bathrooms to serve two guests each. We located it across the road down by the Livery Stable and had plans to build a water tower and a little white church to round out the first phase of construction.
The rest of the Ranch was looking good, housing 15-18 guests every retreat. With the addition of Cowboy Town we planned to expand the retreats to 20-22 guests, which would be the largest groups we would consider at a time. Even with the expansion we committed ourselves to the small group experience so that each person could receive personal attention, and no one would be able to be anonymous among us.
To make this expansion, we needed to change the zoning for the Ranch to provide for the bed and breakfast aspect. The zoning officials told us that it would just be a formality and, after the public meeting, we could finish the construction and move on to the next phase.
Then came the Zoning Commission meeting in May of 2016. Because it was promised to be so easy, Katie took the information and attended the meeting. Heather Trim went along for moral support.
They never saw it coming.
The neighbors showed up in force like villagers with pitchforks and torches ambushing the proverbial Frankenstein’s monster. When Katie finished her presentation the villagers (our neighbors) presented a petition against us and leveled ever increasingly hurtful accusations – none having to do with zoning, all having to do with the fact that, “They do exorcisms over there.” It turned out to be a bunch of folks that are part of a secret religious cabal in that end of the county who had been whipped into a frenzy.
And they became a mob.
Katie was devastated, and the ministry was halted in its tracks. We did one more retreat there, but the county told us that the neighbors had the final say on continuing and they had made themselves quite clear. So, it was time to scramble. We moved the June retreats to a hotel conference room in Statesboro; then we moved out of the county and did the July retreats at The Gathering Place in Metter.
In the midst of all that confusion, we decided to move to north Georgia, closer to the airport and somewhere near civilization. We located a Christian campground that had potential to be our permanent home and we scheduled August through November. But,they decided to sell the camp to their county to become a park so once again we were on the move.
2017 The Year of Harvest
Friends and team members Patrick and Velvet Cramer offered their property in Macon to use temporarily while we got our ducks in a row to find our permanent home.
Flashback: Just after Katie’s lynching in May of 2016 we looked at a retreat center for sale west of Atlanta and fell in love with it. It was already under contract, so we had to wait to see what would happen.
In the meantime, we redeveloped the ministry from the ground up, securing a new corporation and 501/C/3 status with the IRS. We set about developing three new retreats: Family, Marriage, and King’s Retreat. We put the Ranch properties up for sale and by April 2017 they had all sold including our personal homes. We moved to north Georgia and await the purchase of the new manifestation of Bear Creek Ranch.
The prophetic word under which we are functioning contained promises regarding this year beginning a time of harvest. And that is where this story sits – poised to harvest territory, team members, and a whole new wave of Saints in Bondage who desperately need freedom and liberty.
2018 and 2019 Endless Nothingness
After moving to north Georgia, we set about finishing the revamping of the entire ministry. We prayed and talked and talked and prayed and then shifted folks from one seat to another on the proverbial “bus” of the ministry, matching identity with function. Heather Trim was voted to be the Executive Director, she and her husband Kevin developed the Family Retreat. Lucas Mather took over registrations and he and his wife Pam began teaching the Blessing module on Sunday mornings of the deliverance retreat. Many other adjustments were made to facilitate the flow of service to the saints.
We finally settled down in the conference room of the Fairfield hotel near I 75 exit 288 and the floodgates opened up. We were quickly registering folks three of four months in advance (which is TOO long) so we added additional retreats to the schedule. Each time we added one, we would have to add another to handle the referrals from those retreats, until it was not possible to add more dates.
Desperately in need of our own property, we bought 30 acres west of us and set about raising the funds to build and, surprising no one, we were stopped in our tracks by the zoning commission. They had no category for us and restricted us to a maximum of 20 people on the property at one time. WE HAVE 25 IN OUR FAMILY, LET ALONE RETREAT GUESTS PLUS TEAM MEMBERS AND SUPPORT STAFF.
Yeah, it seemed quite familiar.
So, we turned out focus back to the original property we had found before even moving north. The person that bought it lost interest and we poised ourselves for the miracle. This project was one that, on our best day, we couldn’t do. It remained perfect for our ministry, already a retreat center with plenty of guest rooms and housing for our team. And we could do nothing to make it happen.
It’s on You, Lord.
And we wait in silence.
So, the saga continues . . .
We currently offer four types of retreats:
For additional information about deliverance in general and our deliverance ministry in particular, check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.
What is Prophetic Deliverance?
Demonization versus Demon Possession?
Why do Christians need Prophetic Deliverance?
What is Wholeness and Inner Healing?