Snake River Chapter of Cowboys for Christ chaplain, Pete Blockhan, kneeling at right, prays with young rodeo participants prior to the rodeo’s start. (Photo by Chance Cooney, Free Range Photos)
Since the Cowboys for Christ article was published in Christian Living in August 2017, the Snake River Chapter of Cowboys for Christ has been represented at over 50 perfs (rodeos) from as far north as Grangeville and west to LaGrande, Ore. and lots of places in between. I have the privilege to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever I go.
At most of these shows, I get to offer the opening prayer. If it happens to be a Sunday show, I hold “cowboy church” right in the arena. I also pray with the rough stock riders — bareback, saddle bronc, ranch bronc, and bull riders — before they are up (ride). Let me share how this came about, cuz it’s really neat how the Lord works things out for His glory.
I was at a show last summer and the arena director asked me not to pray. Needless to say, I was a little sorrowful about that, but as I stepped down from the announcer’s booth, I saw two young cowboys struggling with their spur wires (most rough stock riders tie their spurs on pretty tight). So I told them that I had some tie wire and pliers, and I could show them how to tie spurs on right.
So I tied those spur wires for them, and when I got done, they said, “Mr. Pete, would you pray for us?” Well, of course I did. We knelt right there in the dirt and prayed God’s protection, wisdom, and to accept what the judges’ ruled for their ride. When I lifted my head, I saw that there were several more riders kneeling behind me. So I have had the honor of doing that with these “rannies” (experienced cowhands) at every show since.
Now, these young men have the bark on — they are some of the toughest men I know. They often cuss pretty good and most chew or dip snuff, but they show agape-type love to one another, helping each other out with their rigging, pulling bull ropes, spotting one another and giving advice on how a certain animal normally bucks, knowing full well that if their ‘pardner’ outrides them, it can cost them a bunch of prize money. I double guarantee you, you won’t see that in too many other sports.
I have also become involved with Rodeo Bible Camp in Cambridge, Idaho. What a blessing that is. I get assigned about six young men whom I get to know over a week. I had a couple of men that were in their last couple of years of high school. All except one were rough stock riders, and all had a good relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Rodeo Bible Camp takes these young men and women and gives them training in their particular rodeo event. But we have chapel twice daily, plus some one-on-one time with their counselors. Let me tell you, you come out of there bone-tired, but the blessing is beyond belief. It is an absolute honor to work with these fine young folks.
I also fly a flag for Cowboys for Christ at some of these shows, as the powers that be often put it in the grand entry for me. This is a very expensive proposition. I also set up two displays: one for the spectators and another I hang on the fence behind the chutes. These have free Bibles (I have given out over a hundred this year), The Christian Ranchman newspaper, which we publish six times a year, along with tracts that are designed with rodeo contestants in mind.
I have also partnered with Yo Curtis and her husband Rich to “rep” at all the girls’ shows. The Curtises are a big help and super people. Plus, David Browning at Kuna Lumber takes The Christian Ranchman into the prison with his ministry there.
Folks, the field is wide unto harvest. In these last days we need sowers, planters and reapers. “And Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:18-20
I am in Christ’s grip.
Pete Blockhan is chaplain of the Snake River Chapter of Cowboys for Christ. He may be reached by text at 208-391-8984. He also holds a Bible study for beginning Christians at Sanctuary Cowboy Church, 212 E. Main St. in Middleton. Services there begin at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings.