Borderland Cowboy Church’s Horsemanship Bible School

 A student rides a horse during Borderland Cowboy Church’s Horsemanship Bible School in Mesilla.

MESILLA (BNM) - Borderland Cowboy Church, Mesilla, hosted its second Horsemanship Bible School, June 20-22. The congregation hosts the event each year instead of a traditional Vacation Bible School. The church’s pastor, Hank Willemsma, explained that, “coming from a ranching background and the cowboy lifestyle, this was just a natural progression.”

In a phone interview, Willemsma described the three-day school’s curriculum. “We exposed the kids to horses [and] gave them opportunities to ride. We also shared with them a few of the things that you do on a ranch,” he said. “In conjunction with that, we told them that horses are part of God’s creation and are one of the most unique animals. When you look in a horse’s eye, you see a reflection of yourself. The type of relationship you have with a horse reflects in their eyes and how they respond to you.”

Many of the children come from broken homes. Others come from foster homes or homes where grandparents are raising them. “It was fascinating to see the transformation in these kids’ attitudes and mindsets,” he remarked.

Borderland has hosted a similar event on the Mescalero Apache Reservation each of the past two years. In July, the church partnered with central Texas cowboy churches to run a four-day program that included horseback riding, roping, crafts and Bible study. According to Willemsma, about 40 children participated. During the event, each child received a Bible.

“It was a different way of doing Bible school - incorporating horses into it,” he said. “It was a unique way to reach kids that have never been around horses.” Through future schools, Borderland hopes to involve children and their parents in church regularly.

Daniel Porter is a staff writer with the Baptist New Mexican news journal and, news and information outlets for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

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