So I really enjoyed getting to know my seatmate on a recent airlines flight. As is my habit when flying solo, I often ask the person next to me, “Going home, or visiting?” This time my neighbor said she was going to visit her son in a city not far from where I live. She started to tell me about her equine therapy center and I asked about the location of her home. Then I discovered that her center was located within 10 miles of where I had grown up and had just visited.
My New Friend
My new friend seemed eager to share stories about her work with equine therapy. Her deeply tanned face and cross jewelry also spoke of her life. It was soon evident that she places her faith in God to lead her work and also her selection of horses for the center. She is very busy with providing riding lessons, summer day-camp activities, and horse rescuing. She redeems dirty, skinny, ornery horses and turns them into sleek, trusting assistants! Plus, she uses several miniature horses to visit nursing homes and community groups. She is devoted to using scripture and Bible stories in conjunction with the riding lessons. The center attracts disabled, behaviorally-challenged kids and those who just want to ride or volunteer to help.
We learned that our ages are only a year apart, and she has been praying for God to soon provide a new leader for the equine center. When we readied to land and go our separate ways, she shared her name and phone number and I promised to pray for her ministry. We agreed to meet on Facebook. She invited me to come and ride the next time I am in the area.
I was already a believer in the amazing power of healing relationships between humans and animals. I was inspired by this woman’s dedication to young people and horses. And I appreciated her faith-building stories about God’s direction to save specific horses from kill yards, and for matching them with specific youth. Her patience in working with difficult and neglected horses and kids is admirable. The advances seen in kids’ ability to accept rules and follow directions for care is hopeful. They are also opening hearts and learning about Jesus in new ways.
The Work of Redemption
My new friend is busy in the work of redemption. When she mentioned horses in the kill yards, I saw how we are all stuck in a “kill yard” of life until we are rescued by Jesus Christ. As we learn to trust him and accept his leadership and training, we can become useful ministers of his love to others. We serve a God who cares about scrawny, dirty, throwaway horses and troublesome kids.
True to my form, I immediately thought about a young cousin who wants to train horses and teach riding and lives in that area. I also remembered a troubled young teen who another cousin has been trying to encourage and support. My small part is now to pass along this resource and continue to pray for their work—wishing I was young enough and still in that location to be a part of their ministry. Yet I am now a part of their ministry! And I await whom else I will meet on the next flight.
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
- Have you ever experienced a special connection with an animal that aided you in some healing or learning?
- Think about “throwaway horses and kids” and read John 3:16-17. Write your response.
Karen Spruill writes from Florida.
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