#103. Missionaries in the Mountains: Surrender and Abundance

 

Photo by Amy Wallen Photography

My wife and I had both worked at a stable in Mississippi, and then God led me to attend seminary. I attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina and I can remember some of the faculty asking me what I wanted to do after I graduated. I told them I wanted to use horses to share God’s love with kids! This was met with some raised eyebrows and “not sure about that” expressions on their faces. I have to admit this was a non-conventional path for a seminary graduate. In fact, I had no idea of how this might come to fruition. It was September, with graduation approaching in December, and I didn’t even know where to begin looking for this kind of ministry opportunity.

Shortly after this I was able to attend the Equestrian Ministries International conference where I met the man that led this ministry. His insights were very helpful to me. This was followed by my attending a conference at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, where I learned of an equine ministry in the mountains of Kentucky that was looking for a director. My wife and I spent a week in the mountains meeting the founders of this ministry. It was wonderful and I felt drawn to take the job. 

But after I returned home I began to doubt…it was 2008 in the middle of the financial crisis and this job did not offer any pay. I had a wife and a child to take care of. I sent the founder of the ministry a very long email about my concerns, but essentially my question to him was, “How can I take this job with no pay?” He emailed me back with only one sentence:

“If this is where God wants you, then God will take care of the rest.” 

A simple but profound answer that spoke powerfully to me. My wife and I agreed to pray separately that night about what the Lord would have us to do. At this point, I was ready to lay it all down and give up my idea of ministry through horses. I wanted what God wanted, and I prayed earnestly for God to reveal His will to me. It was then, through my complete surrender to God, that I received clarity and direction. By midnight, I knew the mountains of Kentucky was where we were to go.

My wife felt the same direction from her prayers that night. I accepted the position of director and we moved to the mountains of Kentucky.

God has continued to bless our family and the ministry since we moved here eight years ago. We now have four children and God has provided in every way, including financially. He has provided a beautiful place for the ministry with 25 acres, 3 stables, 24 stalls, an arena, trails, and a classroom. God has given us the opportunity to share the love of Jesus while on horseback. At our Lil Buckaroo Boot Camp, kids learn how to care for and ride horses while also singing songs and participating in scripture reading. We also work with a local elementary school to love, encourage, and teach children who have autism about riding and caring for horses. 

I was on a journey to find out God’s will for my life. I had to step outside of my comfort zone to do so. His ways were much different than mine. I received the call and was a bit resistant initially. As a man, I was looking for security, as I had a family to provide for. But God was looking for me to surrender to Him and all He had for me. When I did, He showed up and has provided for us abundantly.

I appeal to you therefore, brother by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#70. Angel In The Pasture

 Photo by Laura Wilkerson Photography

I am a mother, wife, and dental hygienist in Alabama. My husband Mark and I and our two children Hannah (18) and Landon (12) live in rural North Alabama on Mark’s family’s farm. He has always owned cattle, and loves the hobby.  

In 2006, I worked for a dentist who used to be a veterinarian. He had several horses and we seemed to have a connection immediately. I told him I always wanted a horse but my husband was against it because he thought it would “chase his cows.” I came to work one day and Doc pulled me aside and said, “Debbie, this has been on my mind for a few days now. I know you said your husband said no horses, but I feel like I have the horse for you. So you and Mark come over and look at her; if she doesn’t work out with your cows, you can bring her back.” I said, “Great! I’ll talk to him.” Doc had a nickname for me—he always called me “Sweet Angel.” I went home and Mark agreed to look at the horse. Doc mainly had Haflinger horses and a few quarter horses and then the horse he had in mind for me. My husband agreed that we would take the horse! I asked Doc her name and he was not sure. So he went to ask his wife who wrote it on a Post-it. When he got back in the truck with us he said, “Guess what her name is?” He handed me the Post-it, with the name Angel!! He said, “See, I told you she was meant for you!” 

In April of 2007, I went to the pasture where I met up with Mark, Hannah, and Landon. When I got to them, my husband asked me to check on #34 (a heifer) who had calved that morning. I took Landon with me on the four-wheeler, and went down to the pine thicket, where the cow and calf were. When I was about a half-acre away from the cow, I turned off the four-wheeler and walked a step or two to see if the calf was nursing on the heifer. All was well! I turned to look at my son—and felt the ground shake! I turned around and mama cow was running full speed, head down, and I had nowhere to go! If I moved, she would jump on my son, so I was “quickened” to let her hit me in the back! She threw me around seven to eight times, as I desperately prayed for God’s help. “God, I need you! Please keep my kids safe; let someone hear me!” 

Finally, my husband got to me, and said, “Debbie, please get up, she coming back!” I couldn’t feel anything below my head, and had already accepted that I was going to die. But I didn’t want another woman raising my children! Then Mark said, “The cow has Landon!” I immediately got up and ran over to a tree, and Mark was at a tree about six feet to my right. Our daughter Hannah was told to stay in the barn lot and pray. 

In front of us we saw Landon’s motionless body lying on the ground, and the cow was jumping over him like she was on a trampoline! With every jump, I just knew she was going to stomp him. We were praying for a miracle. Mark ran in and got him out from under her 1,100-pound body and we saw he was alive! But, it wasn’t over, as now the cow was after them! I prayed even harder! 

Just then, out of nowhere, my horse jumped the fence and ran like she was coming out of the heavens, and turned around and bucked that cow in the head several times as it chased her! We were able to get to the other four-wheeler and get to the hospital for help Landon had stitches on his ear and bruising. I had several broken ribs and about eight vertebrae fractures and a football-sized hematoma. It took about two years for me to get better. There are many more details to this story, but one thing I DON’T want to forget—my horse’s name is Angel. And she truly is! I saw God in her that day.

I have always “known” who God was. In fact, I don’t remember ever doubting that He was real. As I grew to an adult, I started diving into His word more and more, to learn who He really was and what my relationship with Him was. I prayed my family would always keep Him number one in everything and strengthen our faith. This miracle that happened to us was a great blessing! It taught our family that God is never late, His timing is perfect, and that we can always trust Him because His ways are not our ways. If we seek Him, He will carry us through. 

I’ve always heard all my life how stubborn I am; I thank God He made me with passion and drive. I could have chosen to let this destroy me and my family by becoming bitter from three years of surgeries, severe pain, and depression. But I didn’t! I was determined to get better. He held me, and I cannot let Him go! It will be 10 years in April, and my faith is stronger than ever. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m sure not where I used to be!

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.