The story of the Lord’s Land begins with the story of Sabine Ball, a beautiful young woman from Germany who survived the fire-bombing of Dresden during the Second World War. At 24 she came to the United States to begin a new life. Eventually she married a wealthy man and began to raise a family.
In 1963 she found herself divorced and living in Santa Barbara, California. She was settled, comfortable, and affluent, but her life seemed empty and meaningless. She even thought that without some direction or purpose it might not be worth continuing to live.
Around this time she began to hear about something new happening among the young people in San Francisco. The “flower children” and “hippies” had appeared in Haight Ashbury during the Summer of Love. Sabine was attracted to these idealistic young people and their vision of a better, simpler world. But she was also deeply concerned about their dangerous and self-destructive use of drugs. Someone ought to do something about this, she thought.
Maybe with help these young people could actually realize some of their dreams, and avoid the more destructive tendencies of the counter-culture. With this in mind, she travelled to Haight Ashbury and spend several days there. She then began to travel up to the coast of Northern California in search of the right property for the dream taking shape in her heart.
In 1968, Sabine found a beautiful piece of land (then 150 acres, of which 28 remain) near the town of Albion on the spectacular Mendocino Coast. It seemed perfect for her new project. It was an old fruit orchard whose meadows were dotted with aging apple and plum trees. Surrounding the central fields were forests of fires and redwoods. Impressive old-growth redwood stumps were scattered around the property — many covered with secondary shrubs, vines, or even trees growing out of them. Sabine sold her Santa Barbara home, her jewelry, and most other possessions and used the proceeds to purchase the Albion property.
Soon young travelers were finding their way to Sabine’s land. “The Land” became a safe haven where young people pursuing alternative lifestyles could express themselves freely and creatively. Simple shelters began to appear — teepees, domes, rustic cabins. Recycled items were put to new and creative uses.
Some of the builders deliberately rebelled against standard architectural conventions. For example, the cocked (diagonal) windows in Raccoon cabin and elsewhere were an expression of this desire to throw out received traditions and try to do everything in a new way. Some of these cabins were truly works of creative craftsmanship. The original “Woodbutchers” cabin was made entirely from a single salvaged old-growth log, using no power tools, no nails, and no hinges. It has been featured in several books on handmade homes.
Soon a commune of over 50 hippies was thriving on Sabine’s Land. Artisans practiced pottery and other crafts, and those living there grew much of their own food. Clothes were optional, and drugs were prevalent.
Eastern mysticism and other alternative spiritual practices were also part of the communal life. Those who came to the Land were often spiritual seekers in serious pursuit of deeper spiritual experience and meaning.
In 1970, a young couple who were followers of Jesus found their way to the Land and began to share their faith with those living there. The initial response was mixed, but some received the new message of Jesus and experienced radical conversions. As this movement gained momentum, one of the those most alarmed was Sabine herself. “If there is a God, he’s not the narrow, exclusive God of the Christians,” she objected. But eventually she too (one of the last hold-outs) was kneeling in the kitchen of the Woodbutcher cabin, where she lived, to surrender her life to Jesus Christ.
The transformation of the community living on the Land was dramatic. Those who lived here recall it as a time when an atmosphere of live was pervasive, almost tangible, and everyone was possessed by a ravenous hunger for the Word of God. As in the book of Acts, it was literally the case that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Drugs were discarded, couples began to marry, but in most ways these simple followers of Jesus continued to live their communal, counter-culture lifestyle.
Over the following months and years, hundreds of young travelers came to faith in Jesus at “the Lord’s Land,” as it was now called. Teams were sent to other cities and other countries to spread the Good News. Many of these young people who found Jesus through the Lord’s Land continue to serve God today, some as pastors and missionaries.
Christians seeking renewal began to make regular visits to the Lord’s Land. The beautiful natural setting, and the unique cabins with their Biblical inscriptions seemed to create an atmosphere that promoted meditation and prayer. Many found that they were able to connect with God in a special way at the Lord’s Land. In 1990, The Lord’s Land Ministries was incorporated.
In April of 2006, the Board of Directors began discussions about giving the Lord’s Land to Youth With A Mission (YWAM). After meeting together, discussing how the Lord’s Land might function as a YWAM Ministry, and following much prayer on both sides, the board members decided to allow the Lord’s Land to begin a new chapter as a ministry of YWAM, beginning in September 2006.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is an international fellowship of Christians from many nations and denominations committed to communicate the Good News personally and creatively to this generation.
Initially guests would join in the work of the community and make whatever financial contribution they wanted. In 2000, in an effort to meet actual costs, each cabin was assigned a per night rate. Prayer Cabin, a rustic hermitage ideally suited for prayer and fasting, is the one cabin that continues to be available on a donation basis. Over the years, board members, overseers and the staff of the Lord’s Land have worked to make needed upgrades to the property, while preserving its unique features, so that it might continue to be available to the Body of Christ.
Sabine Ball continues to be part of the Lord’s Land. In 1991, at 67 years of age, she returned to the newly-reunited Germany to begin a ministry to the pinks, skinheads, drug addicts, and other at-risk young people on the streets of Dresden. Beginning with no resources, she worked with volunteers from local churches to reach out in simple and practical ways. This work has now grown into a successful, respected work in Germany, where Sabine is widely known as, “The Mother Theresa of Dresden.”
Sabine tries to visit the Lord’s Land for two months each summer. She is convinced that God has called her to inner-city Dresden, but she admits, “My flesh really likes California!” The story continues… To see more about Sabine Ball’s ministry in Dresden, visit http://www.stoffwechsel.com
Our dear Sabine went home to be with the Lord on July 7th, 2009 in Dresden, Germany. She died in her home of a heart attack and was buried in her hometown of Dresden. She is dearly loved and will be severely missed. Feel free to post a memory below on this page. We want to capture all the stories we can.