As you read this, Cesar and I are probably in the jungle in Guatemala and will be out of contact for a few days. I wrote this a few days ago to feature the guys on the recent Guatemala Rodeo team. But as you read this, consider the different skills and personalities that we need for our teams and pray that more guys like these step up to the challenge. In April we need two more teams. More on that later.
Sam Anderson: the Anchor
Every team needs an anchor. At least one guy needs to step up to be the primary recruiter for that project. For this team it was Sam. A few weeks ago I shared with you about Sam's contribution in the rodeo the night that we didn't have a horse for Lew Sterrett to break. Let me add to Sam's story. When Lew and Clint weren't with us for the last two days of the week of activities, Sam stepped up to be our horse whisperer. One day he did it with a group of horse trainers in Jutiapa, and another day he did it with a cattlemen's association in Jalpatagua.
One of the genius moves that Sam made was when, in Jalpatagua, they had brought four horses to be trained, but there was no adequate round pen at the location to use to work a horse. Praying for guidance, Sam remembered a talk Lew had done with our team about how God works with us in four arenas that perfectly match up to the four arenas a horse trainer uses as he develops his horses. That day, Sam noticed that all four of the horses perfectly illustrated the arenas that God works us through. So he presented each horse and made comments. Cesar added salsa to the message and led folks in a prayer to turn their lives over to Jesus. Over 60 gave us the tear-off portions of the testimonies to indicate their decision to follow Christ.
Dr. Marty Langhofer: Vet on a Mission
Marty is one of the most talented and brilliant guys I have ever met. He can sing, play the harmonica, rope anything in sight, and tell stories right and left! Besides being a world renowned expert on anything related to the mouth of an animal, he is passionate about using his veterinary talents to reach people for Christ. Marty has been involved in mission projects with the Christian Veterinary Missions group and has been to Romania over 20 times. Because he is really a cowboy at heart, he jumped at the opportunity to come on this trip. We think that God is about to do something special in using his vet skills and his veterinarian network to reach cowboys and ranchers in Central America. If you are a vet, we could sure use you on future trips. And some will be focused on veterinarian projects. Stay tuned!
Michael Macias: the Servant/Personal Evangelist
On every team, we need people who are quick to share their testimony or make a friend. Michael did that really well this trip. As an added bonus, he helped me and the group by covering part of the responsibility in translating for the group. In addition, Michael is such a positive guy to have around, and at several points he encouraged me by his words and acts of service. One of the crazy connections of this team is the fact that one of Michael's daughters is married to Marty's brother's son. And Michael and Marty didn't know about each other until shortly before this trip!
Denny Ledgerwood: the Validator
One of the team factors that always helps is having someone personify the results of a church or ministry that focuses on cowboys or ranchers. Denny's personal story of getting involved at Open Range Fellowship spoke to the regular guys and gals who respond to God through Cowboy Churches and what we would call Christian Rancher groups. In addition, his story about helping out as a volunteer with an equine therapy program, called Horse Power, served as a validation for several of the people we met in Guatemala who want to start an equine therapy program for special needs children. One of the days that people asked me about those people who do equine therapy, I called Denny over, and he happened to be wearing the Horse Power t-shirt! Believe it or not, your story is validation to someone like you that following Jesus is worth our full devotion.
Clint Bailey: the Bull Rider
In a previous update, I highlighted Clint's story with the bull riders and how they responded to his testimony. I also mentioned that he and Lew had to rough it without their luggage. On top of that, Clint had a lot going on back home. As the father of 4 younger children, Clint's wife probably deserves a medal dealing with a frozen water pipe break while looking after the kids while he was gone. On almost any trip, bull riders help us capture the heart of what we want to do. Part of this comes in the way we talk about how, after every Bible story, everyone needs to "ride a bull." That is, we all need to name that one thing we are going to do about what we just learned that day and commit to one another that before we get back together, “I'm going to ride my bull.”
Lew Sterrett: the Horse Whisperer
Horse trainers take notice. Horses bring some of the most powerful messages and illustrations to cowboys. A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted some of Lew's contributions. For those who know Lew, his effectiveness that week was par for the course. He does incredible things with horses all the time. And for many years his ministry, Sermon on the Mount, has touched many. We would highly recommend him to anyone. But please note. For us, horse trainers don't necessarily have to be able to speak to a crowd while they work. Cesar and I can work with the trainer to share the message as he works the horses. The basic message is always the same. The way the trainer is working with this horse is the way God works with us.
Ray Gurney: the Pastor
Even though we don't often look for preachers for our trips, we do need pastors. That is, we need someone to shepherd the team. And Ray Gurney is one of the best at doing this. By the way, this was Ray's 21st trip to Guatemala! In the 10 years that he has been coming, that averages out to be about 2 a year. In Ray's case, he has done cowboy trips, jungle trips, motorcycle trips, water projects: you name it, Ray has probably been on one of our various kinds of trips. What I like about Ray is that he always becomes the true pastor of the group. He is good at looking after folks, and he always has a great way of helping us see the spiritual battles facing us in a way that draws us to pray and trust God. When we started realizing the high stakes involved in doing this project, I asked Ray to come because I knew that we would be facing spiritual opposition. And true to form, Ray helped us at several key points.
Dave Herriman: the Photographer
Because we are trying to better document what we are doing for training and recruiting, we need tech, video, and photography gifts in the mix. And this is not just for the trips, but for working with us back home. When Sam spoke to the Open Range group about needing a photographer, Dave stepped up. He is a former AP reporter and has taught computer classes at Longview Community College. He is also passionate about photography and he took hundreds of pictures and videos on this trip. In addition, Dave will be helping us with a new website www.cowboymissions.com. Realizing the growing need to use the technologies at our disposal in a more strategic way, we believe guys like Dave can help us recruit and mobilize others with these skills to help us get the tools people need to start new groups and organize mission teams.
You: Our Friends and Prayer Team
Last but not least, I must mention you. I know that many of you were praying fervently for us on this trip. For me, I felt that support at several points. The most tangible day I felt your prayers was in the arena when I had to translate Lew and dialogue with Cesar and a rodeo announcer. Since that was a first for me to do in front of a crowd that large, I would have thought I would be nervous. But that whole time, I felt relaxed and more mentally “on” than I think I was the whole week. In a sense, I felt carried by your prayers. I know the other guys felt the same. So on behalf of our team, thanks!
When I get back to civilization, Nola will be joining me for a week of working with women. And ladies be forewarned. We need you too! As much as this cowboy thing has been dominated by men, the women are carrying the torch in increasing ways. Maybe I will share more on that next time.
Thanks for your continued prayers.
Please Join Us.
PLAY. STORY. EAT Retreat in Kansas City on March 17-19.
Location: Hyatt Place Kansas City Airport
Times: Friday, March 17 - begin at 6 p.m.
Saturday - 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with an afternoon break
Sunday - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Retreat Cost: $59 per person, including all meals and snacks for the time we are together (Note: Dinner on Friday is on your own before we begin.)
PS...Here are the dates for two Rodeo teams needed soon. Both are in Honduras. If you are interested, let us know.
April 14 to 20: Rodeo team needed in Comayagua Honduras
April 21 to 28: Rodeo team needed in Catacamas Honduras