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‘Cowboy preacher:’ Pastor meets folks on horseback

POCAHONTAS, Mo. (BP)–Known as the “cowboy preacher,” Mike Harrison rides his horse, “Red,” about 150 miles a month (in good weather) in rural southeast Missouri, visiting with people along the way.
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve liked horses and cowboy things,” said Harrison, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, Pocahontas. “I was told by my boys once that I was born 100 years too late.”
Horses have been a lifetime hobby for Harrison, but a few years ago, he said God revealed to him something from his Word. “God asked Moses, ‘What’s that in your hand?’ And I realized that we’re to use what God gives us to bring honor and glory to him. I had always prayed that my desire for horses and to be a cowboy would bring honor and glory to God.
“So, I just started doing visitation on horseback.”
He has done his horseback ministry in other communities before moving to the area, but this is where he has concentrated on it the most.
“I found out that when I was out riding for relaxation people would readily come up to me and want to touch my horse. … They trusted me, and people received me. It took away the intimidation of being a pastor. I guess they didn’t think pastors rode horses.”
Harrison rides his horse up to people in their yard and they start talking, or he’ll be riding down a road and people will stop their cars to visit. “I always try to say something about the Lord or invite them to church.”
Sometimes, he said, he rides with church members or other people from the community — simply to answer questions or even to have a counseling session. “Riding seems to relax them more.”
The biggest feature about his horseback ministry, he said, is that it’s just different. But it’s popular. “You’d be surprised at the number of church people and other people that want me to come visit on horseback now.”
Harrison was quick to point out that this ministry is something special God has given to him. “My hope is that people can see they can use any hobby they have or any desires they have to use for kingdom work. ‘What’s in your hand?’ What’s God given you that you can use?”

    About the Author

  • Stacey Hamby