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Navajo Leaders Share Gospel on Horseback

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The gospel is spreading on horseback across the Navajo Nation’s high desert in New Mexico and Arizona.

Leaders in the region’s Christian Reformed churches have organized an annual trail ride to meet people where they live and reach out to fellow horse enthusiasts.

Saddling up his horse at the start of this year’s two-day outing, rider Tom Chee explains that in ranch country a pastor with spurs beats one in a necktie.

“This is partly Christian fellowship,” Chee says, “but it’s also an effort to introduce Christ to people other than by saying, ‘Come to our church.’”

As if on cue, a local man walks up to CRC Home Missions Regional Team Leader Rev. Stanley Jim to ask what’s happening. They speak briefly in the Navajo language, and after hearing the explanation the man seems to approve.

Jim says, “I told him we do this because we enjoy God’s creation. We enjoy each other’s company. We pray for the land, and we pray for our communities.”

This year’s ride went from Beklabito to Sanostee, N.M., a distance of about 60 miles (96 km). Christian Reformed congregations in Red Valley, Ariz., and in Sanostee and Tohatchi, N.M., provided meals and sleeping space along the trail. Along the way, this year’s riders stopped for lunch at a sheep camp, where they prayed for the people and their animals. Many of the 30 or so riders were Christian Reformed believers or other Christians, but others had no church background.

Stanley Charley of Bis Dootl’izh Deez’áhí Fellowship CRC in Newcomb, N.M., said he likes the mix of believers and unbelievers. He organized the first ride 7 years ago, with the goal of reaching people who wouldn’t ordinarily visit a church.

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