As churches across the country ready for summer Bible classes for youth, one Missouri church is offering children and teenagers horsemanship to go with their Scriptures.
Risen Ranch Cowboy Church of Joplin will have a Bible camp dubbed the "Horsemanship and Bible Camp" in June. Steve Stafford, pastor of Risen Ranch, told The Christian Post that this was the fourth year that the church had put together this unique Bible camp.
"We wanted to do Vacation Bible School, but we didn't want to do traditional VBS because we're not a traditional city church," said Stafford.
"Our ultimate goal is … to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not just for the kids that come, but with the family as well."
Registration for the summer camp began last week. Participants will be expected to leave cell phones and other electronic devices behind, while taking sleeping bags, buckets for feed and hay, as well as a pooper scooper.
The age range for youth registration is from 8 to 17 years old. According to Stafford, the experience level for those participating varies.
The event has grown with time, as its first year had 17 registrants, in 2009 it had 33, and in 2010, 68 registered. An estimated 100 youth had been registered for the 2011 Rodeo Bible Camp but the EF-5 tornado that hit the Joplin area that year led the church to cancel the event.
"We're expecting about a hundred kids this year," said Stafford, who felt there were certain parallels between the Christian and the cowboy life.
"And that is one of the easy things to teach these kids … we teach them to become one with their horse," said Stafford, who observed that Jesus Christ spoke about being one with God and believers being of one mind.
"I've got to learn the mind of the animal and the heart of the animal. I want the animal to know my mind, my thinking, my heart as well. Same thing with Jesus. I want His heart to be my heart. I want His desires to be my desires."
The "Horsemanship and Bible Camp" will be taking place from Wednesday, June 13, until Saturday, June 16. The deadline for registration is Sunday, June 10.