Why Rodeo Ministry?

I was sitting at a table reading over a message at Rodeo Bible Camp when I was asked by the worship leader, Jeff, a simple question: “Why?” After 4 weeks on the road, 3 rodeos and 4 Rodeo Bible camps, he wanted to know “why” rodeo ministry was where I landed. I wasn’t raised on a horse, didn’t own cattle, and my grandma’s still think I ride bulls, so it was a pretty fair question.

I answered him, but felt it necessary to inform you. It may shock you but I am not chained to rodeo. Rodeo allows me to do what I love to do with the people I love to do it with, but Rodeo is not end-all-be-all for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love every aspect of it, but there is a different drive that I can only explain through history.

Truman Long, 1955
Truman Long, 1955

My grandfather, my dad’s dad, Truman, passed away when my father was 20 and in the army. They were not the closest. My father was the oldest of three, and from what I can tell, my grandfather and my uncle had more in common than dad and him did. Truman worked a lot, providing for his family, but when it came down to connecting with Dad, I don’t get the impression that they were really close. Grandpa Truman passed away from a blood clot entering his heart when my father was away in the army. My dad and I have never been able to connect like other father’s and sons, probably because my dad didn’t get the chance to connect well with his.

When it came down to it, my Dad loves sports. He tried to get me to love golf, but I stunk. He coached me in basketball and t-ball, both of which I liked but never excelled at. I was good at bowling, but it was something he tried but never got into. We hunted together and spent every opening weekend from 12-18 out in western Kansas chasing pheasants. In 8th grade he took me hog hunting in south Texas and I shot a massive boar and that is how we connected. When I went to college, hunting took a backseat. Time never seemed to be in my favor. But we did always have time to go to the buckouts down at Domer Arena, or to watch the PBR on TV. We had no idea what it would lead to, but we enjoyed it.

When I was born, my Dad was 22 years old. I was 9 by the time he was the age I am now. Whatever perceived mistakes he made, I know I could not have done any better. I guess it is shocking that my dog is still alive. He was a young man when I was born…I cant hold anything against him.

So back to my question: “why?” If you were to approach me today with a hunting ministry, dirt bike ministry, chess club ministry, or a tattoo ministry, that would put father’s and son’s, men and kids, boy’s and adult’s into a mentoring relationships, I would sell my bullfighting pads and follow you to wherever to make it happen.

Rodeo is the BEST…I will say it again, the BEST, way for me to help strengthen the father/son; boy/adult bond that I have found. In T-ball, Dad helps with practice and sets in the dugout during games; but in Rodeo, I see father/son team roping duo’s. In basketball, they shoot on the hoop outside at night; but in Rodeo, Dad is pulling his rope and pulling gates.

I rodeo because I like to think that my Dad and his Dad would have done it together. I rodeo because Dad and I (though we donated to the pot last year) will bring home a pay check in the dummy ropin’ this year. I rodeo because that is something we both connected by watching and learning when I was a kid.

  • I rodeo because I watch Brandt helping Stratton down on his pony and roping the dummy with Gentry.
  • I rodeo because I see Doug teaching Bronc about positioning and timing and working with his horse.
  • I rodeo because I see Tyler Dees helping his 3 year old on a sheep.
  • I rodeo because Mr. Lewis is pulling Justin’s rope, Dusty is telling Brandon to “go to the nose” or Chad is accepting a challenge fro Cade or Cauy.
  • I rodeo because Mr. Dame is pulling gates while his boys are helping others set their ropes.
  • I rodeo because bull riding means just as much for Ethan to ride than it does for Tim to watch.
  • I rodeo because, though Zane might not love Rodeo, Chad who does, still invests in his own kids the way he does others.
  • I rodeo because men like Scott and Ed raised their kids in rodeo and they are closer for it.
  • I rodeo because Bret taught life lessons to his 3 sons who have learned more about life because they grew up on the road
  • I rodeo because some don’t have Dad’s there and I cant help that…but hope to make it like they did.
  • I rodeo because men like George Steinberger was a father to more than just his kids through rodeo
  • I rodeo because of the many other examples who I left out, who live life alongside their kids on the road 30 weekends a year learning more than Spongebob on TV could ever impart.
  • I rodeo because every moment I have spent with Brian, Jason, Chad, Brandt, Doug, and the others has made me a little bit better.
  • I rodeo because someday maybe Daniel, Vincent, Thomas, Bandy, and I can be those dad’s.
  • I rodeo because I would have like to think that great grandpa would have if he had the chance…I think Dad would have.

If you told me that there was a better way for me to learn to be a dad, to help strengthen the family’s relationships to each other and to God, or to help people grow closer to Christ, I am all ears…if you could just wait a few years that would be even better!

So thanks Dad for taking me to the Expo, for buying the tickets and the nachos.  Thanks for explaining what “the Star-Spangled Banner” was and what it meant.  Thanks for being there to watch me fight bulls and I hope you will be there to help me get your grandkids on bulls.  Thanks Dad, you weren’t perfect, but you were always there to try!

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