Riding High Ministries Teams Up with MANNA Worldwide in Guatemala!
The Kingdom is built in the streets by those willing to leave the Palace.
-Story by Tammie Webster
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Matt 28: 18-20Although the men and women from Riding High Ministries who went to Guatemala do not live in a palace, they would all agree that compared to the living conditions they saw in Guatemala, it would seem that they do.
On Sunday morning, February 26th, a group from Riding High Ministries embarked on a journey that would change their lives. The group consisted of Todd Pierce, Kody Lostroh, Mike Lee, Dana Errico, Dustin Elliott, Josh Koschel, Jordan and Philicia Hupp. This group, mainly consisting of professional bull riders, went to help out the organization Manna Worldwide at feeding centers and minister to the families there. However, each one told me that they probably got more out of the trip than what they were able to give.
The entire team was shocked by the poverty levels in Guatemala. While still in the air, Dustin described what he saw. “We’re flying in and you can see these just urban area of houses all over, that were in the United States standards well below par. . . and just flying in, we could look down and see some of those areas. It kind of helped us prepare for that, knowing that this is what we are getting ourselves into. It was just amazing and definitely an eye opener.” When talking to Kody he stated that “The majority of people that live in Guatemala City, they don’t have anything. The buildings and homes and stuff that they live in are what people around here would house their dogs or their cattle or their animals in. It’s just, it’s pretty rough.”
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Todd Goes to BURMA
Shelley man travels to Myanmar to aid displaced population
By Greg Eichelberger
For The Journal
POCATELLO – The Bible reads that “greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for another.” If that is the case, Todd Pierce has a very strong love for his fellow man, indeed. Pierce, 42, a Pastor in the Riding High Ministries serving the professional bull-riding circuit, plans to leave his sound, safe Shelley home for the next three weeks and journey to Myanmar (formerly Burma) to administer to the Burma Free Rangers.
The country is located between India and China, has a population of more than 48 million and was instrumental in aiding the Chinese during the Japanese occupation during World War II.
The Rangers are instrumental in aiding the more than one million displaced citizens fleeing the encroaching army, which has systematically terrorized them through gunfire, landmines, ambushes and other forms of intimidation.
Like any dictatorial government, power lays in the means of controlling the population,” Pierce said. “These particular people will not allow themselves to be controlled. Consequently, they are subject to this mistreatment. My job over the next three weeks is to work with the Rangers and to try to encourage and inspire them to the best of my ability. I want them to know that God is listening to their cries and help them meet the physical as well as spiritual needs of the population.”
Pierce, who hosted the leader of the movement at his home several months ago, was personally asked by him to visit the country and offer what spiritual assistance he could. The Pastor agreed with no hesitation. Recently, President Obama became the first U.S. Chief Executive to visit the nation, causing Pierce to hold out some hope that someday, it will move towards some form of democracy.
Those days may be quite a while away, however, and since supplies cannot be driven or flown into the dense mountain jungle area many of the victims have fled to, everything has to be carried by pack animals or on the backs of the Rangers themselves. From the training camp (where Pierce will spend several days at first) to the jungle is a 50-mile hike. It will not be a pleasure jaunt by any stretch of the imagination.
“I thought I was prepared for such a walk, but recently I sustained an ankle injury,” he said. “It’s going to make this a lot tougher and I may be way over my head, but I’ve already made plans to go and I am not going to cancel anything.”
Pierce, who left for Myanmar on Thanksgiving Day, has served other foreign missions to locales such as Russia, Australia, Bolivia and Brazil, but has not faced the kind of perils he may see over the next 21 days. Being in close contact with these people will subject him to the same dangers, but he says he fears no evil.
“We are all going to die,” he said, “but to truly live we have to take risks in life and we can’t let fear dictate our decisions. No one wants a bullet in the head and I certainly do not want to leave my wife and three sons behind, but these people live with that situation every day. I’m only going to be there for about three weeks, so I’m more concerned with what I can do to help instead of my safety.”
Such sentiments make for stronger stuff than your average person, but friend and pastoral colleague Wiley Peterson claims that Pierce is one of the most giving and sincere men he knows.
“He will definitely be in the danger zone,” said the former professional bull rider, “but he is the kind of person who values the eternal salvation of others more than anything. He is definitely committed and will do almost anything for anybody. He is a fine man and a great friend. We will all be praying for him, though.”
As for his part, Pierce does not believe he is anything special, saying, “I just want people to know that I am a common guy who grew up in Inkom, Idaho. None of what I do is for myself. I do it all for the glory of my Lord. That’s what I hope to impart to the people of Burma and those trying to help them survive these difficult times.”
Pierce’s trip was financed through a combination of funds raised by Riding High Ministries and the Free Burma Rangers. Those who would like to contribute may do so by visiting www.ridinghighministries.org
Read Todd’s blogs to learn more about his mission in Burma:
Todd sitting at LAX, waiting for his flight to Burma. See photos of his adventures once he arrived there by clicking here:
These words are by a prison inmate at the Snake River Correctional Institution for men in Ontario, Oregon where Pastor Todd did three horse-breaking gospel presentations the weekend of July 2-3, 2011. The words accompanied a chalk drawing of Todd and a horse by the same inmate.
When the piece was started, it wasn’t intended to be traced or drawing backward from the original picture. Even though I made this small oversight, God used to teach me a lesson through it. The lesson was that no matter what life deals us, we have to take what is giving us and make the best of it. At first, I was somewhat displeased with the way the picture was turning out and I found my self wanting to start the drawing over again and correct it to its original direction. I couldn’t do that if I wanted to, because I would not have had the time finish it on schedule. There were mockers that said, “Why are you continuing to work on that backward piece?” Nevertheless I kept working on it even when I was frustrated with the circumstance or should I say God kept me from give up on drawing.
>The View Through the Eyes of a Faith Counselor
PBR Faith Night at The Pit
I am one of the many volunteers who supported your ministry here in Albuquerque on March 25, 2011 on Family Night. After your amazing effort to tame a 2-year old gilding and ride him, you gave an opportunity for those in the audience to receive the hope of Christ and the loving forgiveness He offers to us all so freely so we can become all that He has for us. This group that appeared to be family all stood up, down about some ten rows in front of me. I was watching the different people stand all over the stadium. I was watching them come up the stairs and approached them and asked if they indeed had stood to receive Christ. The husband and wife said yes we did. They had two boys with them and I asked if they were a family? The mother, Pam, said yes we are, introducing her husband Archey and the boys, Antonio and Adrian. I asked if they had planned to stand together or talked about it before coming. They looked at each other and all said “no, I just knew I wanted to receive Jesus.” They were from the Las Vegas, NM area. They were there for the rodeo and Archey had a business meeting the next day.
I went through the steps to faith and ask where they were – first-time receivers or rededicating? I shared with them the differences of re-dedication for the parents. The whole family said simultaneously that it was the first time for them to receive. Pam shared that her older daughter attended a church – a Calvary Chapel and they went after the daughter’s husband died a couple of years ago and they all felt there was so much love and clear understanding about the love of God and they had never felt that in any other church. Pam says “We were raised Catholic, but had never attended.” Anthony and Adrian both said they really wanted to know more about Jesus. I reminded them as Todd shared, it is about a relationship with Jesus. I shared the churches available in their area and in Albuquerque when they are visiting. They ask how to get to a church in Albuquerque while they were there. I prayed for them and they were so grateful for the packets and I encouraged them to read the book of John together as a family and begin praying together as they learn together what it means to be a born-again believer.
Anthony began to share about the trouble in Pecos with water shortage and his brother-in-law dying of carbon-monoxide a couple of years ago. He asked for prayer for all this and his sisters and a cousin who was ill with cancer and much more. I have had several e-mails from Antonio and I sent him some scripture and prayers. Today he ask for prayer and let me know his cousin died and the funeral was today. He is full of compassion for others and knows the hurt in this world. God has great plans for this young man who is 15 years old. God was already working in each of their hearts and it was His perfect plan to bring them to this event so they could hear the message of true salvation. I have not talked to the other members of the family.
I was blessed with this opportunity to share in the work God is doing through Riding High Ministries and Todd Pierce. The divine plans God has for each of us is there when we are willing to give of our time and pour out our service to those who do not know Jesus.
Thank you for being obedient to the call Jesus has placed on your heart. I pray for God to multiply the fruit of this ministry as He shows you when and where to speak in His name.
In Christ I pray,
Romans 8: 1-2 Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life “set me free” from the law of sin and death. Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
>Loving People or Winning Souls….
It was a brisk, spring morning with the sun beginning its path across the mountain town I was driving through. The post office was bustling with people inside and out. At the local breakfast spot, people sat in chairs outside chatting. Kids ran in the lawns of the houses along the little two-lane road going through this scenic view.
Then it hit me. I couldn’t remember when I last “saw” people. I felt like I had just been reinserted into a real world. I suddenly saw people greeting each other, laughing with one another, telling stories, stopping to talk along the way about the day’s journey just beginning to unfold. I slowed down until I was barely moving, then gazing, staring in disbelief of these people I had just rediscovered.
I laughed one of those curious what’s-going-on kind of laughs. I even looked into the mirror to see what expression I had on my face. It was a look that said I’d like to stop and be part of this; to have a neighbor to talk with, laugh with, cry with, to tell real stories about real lives. The strangest part was that I even wanted to listen to their stories. I longed to re-enter the real world of real people living real lives.
Later that day I arrived at my destination to meet with a dear and wise friend who was helping me along the journey of discovering agape. I was still overwhelmed with what I had experienced that morning. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” I told him. He responded with a liberating truth. “You’ve broken through. You’ve spent all these years seeing souls, but today you saw people becoming what God intended. You are seeing people, not souls.”
My gift of evangelism was, and still is, amazingly strong. I always wanted to be an evangelist. Thirty years ago I read a book about the life of George Whitefield and it changed my life. He became my hero and I wanted to be like him. So the journey to “win souls” was on.
But over time the gift began to possess me. Everything became about winning souls and not much about the people themselves. Had I met you in those years you might have noticed that I didn’t much care about your story. Didn’t have much time to stay around and listen. I had to go save more souls for heaven. My value and identity became attached with the answer to “How many souls did you win today?” And the answer would have been about a number, not a name or someone’s life story.
Numbers or names?
Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with winning souls. The Book says that he who wins souls is wise. But something’s not right when life becomes about souls to win for heaven, and not about people wanting to be known now on earth; when numbers become more important than names.
Just last week another man showed up unannounced at our Sunday morning “Waffles and Grace” home gathering. I found out later he had been trying to reconnect with Blood n Fire for several years. When he stepped on to the porch and saw me after all those years, his very first words were “Pastor, do you remember me?” It’s the same question I hear every time I meet someone who came through the Warehouse doors when we were housing hundreds of homeless each night in downtown Atlanta.
Before I could even answer, he thanked me and Blood n Fire for giving him back his life. He told how he had quit smoking and drinking, gave up the women and drugs. But then he asked that question again, the real one burning in his heart. “Pastor, do you remember me?”
I used to lie when people asked me that, saying I did but, sorry, I just couldn’t remember the name. Giving great grace, they would never let on to the disappointment of not being remembered. The homeless probably understood better than most that if I didn’t remember their name, I probably didn’t care about or remember their story.
See, I learned early on how to meet and greet and move on. Next, please. Don’t have too much time. Too many souls to win, causes to promote, visions to walk out. Don’t need to learn names. That’s why we have name tags. At least with a name stuck on the front of a shirt we can give the impression that we know one another without actually having to.
This is a letter from a dear friend and I want to let each of you feel the weight of it for yourselves. Enjoy!
Today I think it is easier to confess that I don’t remember their names and explain that it had nothing to do with them. My gift, my calling, my cause drove me so hard that I was too busy to deeply care about anybody apart from how it served me and my seemingly good ministry agenda. But now, this thing of agape, of supernatural love, overrides all and compels me to offer my time–not just my gift–and truly meet them, know them and their story.
I am finding that everyone I meet has time to tell their story, but they have found so few who want to listen. I’m talking about listening without an agenda of winning a soul, or selling a product, or enlisting in a cause. Yet, how can any of us say we know someone if we don’t know his or her story?
It may take time for our neighbors to trust us enough to tell the real story of their journey and see how we will respond to it. Will we treat them as another soul to win for heaven or a number to add to our church growth program?
I believe something different is starting to happen. Something that happens supernaturally. It’s about a love, a caring for a neighbor who is so unlike who we are. It’s about a heart change, a transformation so that we have no purpose or motivation other than wanting to do our neighbor good. And it ends up doing us both good: our neighbor finds voice and we become instruments of His agape love, the only thing, I believe, that still shocks the world.
Without the real story no one will ever know the real God, the One who is always faithful. Always, no matter what! Without telling our failures, the dark nights, the joys of the new morning, how we misused our success, and how we betrayed and were betrayed, we will never know how much God loves. We will miss His heart of compassion and graciousness, His being slow to anger, and His mercy, truth and forgiveness.
I believe for me my days of soul winning are over. They were good years for my ministry and me personally, but I am left with a lot of numbers and few real people living real life. I have spent over sixty years learning about the journey with God. Now I want to learn about journeying with people, my neighbors and experience life with them.
Yeah, it’s hard. The old keeps calling, “David, there’s a soul to be won.” But change is inevitable, and He is changing me from a soul winner to a man who loves his God and loves his neighbor.
>This is a story recently submitted to our ministry. May it bless you as it did us!
Who’s Your Daddy?
A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.
“Where are you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice.
“Oklahoma,” they answered.
“Great to have you here in Tennessee,” the stranger said… “What do you do for a living?”
“I teach at a seminary,” he replied.
“Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, “Great .. just what I need …..another preacher story!”
The man started, “See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, “Hey boy, who’s your daddy?” Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, “Who’s your daddy?”
He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad. When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. The boy would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, “Who’s your daddy?”
But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast that he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, “Son, who’s your daddy?”
The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, “Who’s your daddy?”
This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy. “Wait a minute! I know who you are! I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.”
With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, “Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.”
“With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, “Who’s your Daddy?” he’d just tell them , “I’m a Child of God..”
The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, “Isn’t that a great story?”
The professor responded that it really was a great story!
As the man turned to leave, he said, “You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!” And he walked away..
The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over & asked her, “Do you know who that man was — the one who just left that was sitting at our table?”
The waitress grinned and said, “Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s governor of Tennessee!”
Someone in your life today needs a reminder that they’re one of God’s children!
YOU’RE ONE OF GOD’S CHILDREN!!!
HAVE A GREAT DAY!
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever! – Isaiah 40:8