"And he said, son what do you feel God really wants you to do? And I said God really wants me to start a boys ranch."
It was twenty five years ago when Bill Partridge's father asked that question. Bill still remembers the answer.
"He said, how do you do it? I said I know how to, but I don't have the money. He said let me worry about the money and you worry about the how to...so that night he went home and made a phone call to a Christian banker and the next morning we had a meeting with that banker and 30 minutes later we walked out with funds for the grounds, the facility and three months operation," remembers Bill Partridge.
That operation is known today at Azleway Boys Ranch. What started as a small foster home south of Tyler has grown into a ministry that serves 450 children at campuses from Tyler to Dallas and many spots inbetween. Boys, mostly who come from abusive homes, find a refuge and place to begin again at Azleway.
Prayer has always played a role in founder Bill Partridge's life but at Azleway prayer starts and ends each day. It's the answers to those prayers that makes it all worth while.
"What is faith all about? It's about life changes and God comes in...our greatest high is when a child...we get to introduce them to a living Lord," says Partridge. "And there are so many of these children that make life changes and really know that someone is walking with them through the valley of the shadow of doubt."
The walk through the valley is made easier for teens who come here. Cabins now dot the Smith County campus. There is even a store where the kids can buy new clothes at pennies on the dollar and a general store where they learn how and what to buy. There is now a school on campus that helps the kids brought here continue their education while the crisis in their lives plays out. Partridge says he could never imagine this calling 25 years ago would become so big. A new chapel, that was recently finished in just another example of how prayer has always been a part of Azleway's operation. A lesson that limitations should never be put on prayer. A lesson Partridge is reminded of every day concerning the future of Azleway and the future of the boys who come here.
"God what do you want me to do next," Partridge says he asks often. "And that is special too. Because God has something in store. Like I said there are alot of doors that are open and a lot of doors that get shut. And you just pray each day as a door gets shut or a door opens God let this be your will, not someone else's...not mine, but yours."