Here is the second installment to our rodeo experience in Agua Blanca, Guatemala.
When I left you hanging in the last update, we were anticipating Lew getting to do his horse presentation on Saturday (1/7/17) evening. Lew is one of the foremost horse trainers in the world and has written several books, including Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer. He has worked with thousands of horses through the years in his ministry, Sermon on the Mount. He works with an unbroken horse in front of a live audience, and, using the interaction with the horse, he shares a Christian message. Since every horse can be a little different, each message can have a slightly different flavor. To see Lew in action you can go to www.SermonontheMount.org.
Hurry Up So We Can Dance!
When we got to the arena on Saturday evening, the stands were already about half full. The promoters immediately asked, ¨Would it be possible to do your presentation in exactly an hour? We have a dance after the rodeo, and we need them to have a couple of hours before midnight.¨
So without a whole lot of introduction, we hurriedly got Lew and his stallion out in the arena. Since Lew didn't have his headset, we had to improvise the delivery of the message. Cesar and I each had a handheld microphone, and we stood behind the arena entry gate. As Lew would yell out to us what he was doing, I would translate what he said. Periodically, Cesar and the rodeo announcer would make comments and add some interaction to the dialogue. We tried to make it feel like a sporting event where you have a play-by-play announcer and then one or two others to add color commentary.
With the stands nearly full, Lew approached the horse and began. ¨We are like this horse. We begin life, and we are wild.¨ As we watched we could see that Lew had a big challenge. This horse was scared. It was running around desperately looking for a way out. By now the stands were full, and the horse seemed spooked by the crowd surrounding him.
Words from the Owner
The rodeo announcer noticed the horse´s owner standing nearby. When Lew got to the place where he was stroking the back of the horse, the announcer asked the owner, ¨What do you think about this so far?¨
¨That horse has gone nuts on us when we have tried to touch his back,¨ he said. ¨This is unbelievable.¨
Little by little Lew made the case that God works with us much the same way that he was working with the horse. God wants us to trust Him, and once we do, He can use us to do things we never dreamed were possible.
When we got to the 50-minute mark, I told Lew over the PA, ¨Lew, we have 10 minutes.¨ Lew nodded.
Will He Ride It?
At that point I didn't think Lew was going to have the time to safely get the saddle on the horse and ride it like he often does. But Lew narrowed his focus and asked Clint for the saddle blanket. Once the horse was comfortable with that, Lew asked for the saddle. At the one hour mark, Lew was testing the reaction of the horse with his body leaned over the saddle. Then in one quick motion, he mounted the horse. Clint got out in the ring to help guide the stallion in a galloping circle with Lew riding majestically in the saddle.
Lew stopped the horse. With the stallion standing perfectly still, Lew got on his knees in the saddle. He took his hat off and, looking heavenward, pointed to the sky. None of us will ever forget that image stamped on our memories of Lew pointing us all to God while kneeling on that wild horse.
When Lew got done, the promoters brought our whole team out into the arena, and Lew shared a few more words. By now the arena was packed beyond full. There was no room in any of the aisles. ¨Would you like these Christian Ranchers from the United States to come back next year?¨ the announcer asked the crowd.
¨Si!!!¨ they yelled in response.
Testimony of the Bull Riders
We walked out of the ring. The bull riders were loosening up and stretching to get ready for their entrance. You might recall from my last update, at lunch that very day, everyone had responded to Clint´s testimony inviting them to follow Jesus. Because of that interaction, it felt almost like the reuniting of long lost brothers. We shared high fives, hugs and encouragement. As we watched our friends competing in the bull riding event, I pulled Clint over and asked, ¨How do you feel knowing that every one of these guys are now believers?¨
¨Words can´t describe it.¨
For the rest of the night, when one of the riders had a good ride, the announcer would pull him aside to interview him. Every one of them that I heard thanked God first. When they interviewed one of the Brazilians, in a unique Portuguese accent, he mentioned how much he appreciated being with the North American team and how we all wanted to point people to God.
I am loading up the truck with Cesar in a few minutes to head to Honduras. I still have more to share about this past week. Stay tuned!
PS... As of this writing, the guys were having more airplane complications and had to stay overnight in Dallas. Hopefully they will be home when you read this!