Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18).
Our writer this month, Terry Putthoff, likens herself in her faithful following of her husband Dave, to Jonathan's armor-bearer. As Jonathan had the inspiration and faith to attack the enemy against overwhelming odds, his lil' old armor-bearer had to agree to go along, believing his shaking limbs would be able to charge up that hill. So too, Terry made a decision by faith to allow Dave to "do all that was in his heart" knowing she and the kids were right behind! Not only has the result (through many trials) been the gospel's spread, but Terry and her children have also been blessed by seeing answered prayers and desires fulfilled. Not to say it hasn't been a "wild horse ride" at times!
I pray we all can imitate her example, and then see the Lord show Himself to us as strong and able to provide--for us and our whole family!
Blessings, Sandy Hopler
By Terry Putthoff (Lee's Summit Community Church, Lee's Summit, MO)
Several years ago, Dave and I were reading a book together entitled, Hope Rising by Kim Meeder. It is a testimonial book of how wounded horses have helped wounded people experience God's love and forgiveness in a very unique way. I believe we were prompted to read this book as God had prepared our hearts through the prayers of our daughters. Many nights their prayers would consist of: "Dear Lord, I want to be a missionary for You, and could we have horses too?" Understanding the innocence of their prayers, I would wink at God, as if to remind Him that they were just children. Their desire to be missionaries at such a young age made me proud. But the "horse thing?" It was only a wishful dream.
I reflected on some of my childhood dreams - to be a mommy, a missionary in India, and also own a ranch with horses. How far fetched is that? As a single, I did go to India on a mission trip and 10 years later I met Dave. Interestingly, going to India was far easier than fulfilling the dream of becoming a mommy. We struggled with infertility for many years, but the Lord was gracious to us and granted us three delightful children.
One night after the usual prayers, I thought it was about time that I soften the blow for my girls by informing them that we would probably never have horses and we would never live on land that would support them. I didn't want them to be disappointed with God. After all, we live as a one-income family and that income was that of a pastor. Looking back, I shudder to think now how small I made God seem in trying to save His reputation--as if He needed it. I directed them to give thanks to God for our good friend, Carolyn. She had horses that we could ride practically anytime we wanted. I thought that's how God was fulfilling their prayers.
God continually steered people into our lives that had something to do with horses. Not only did he bring Carolyn into our lives, but he also prompted other friends. They raised Paint Horses and were downsizing their herd. Out of the blue, they called me to say that they had a mare that we should consider buying. She was with foal at the time. In February of 2004 we bought our first riding horse and in March "imprinted" our first filly upon birth. Dave's folks had some acreage at their place and let us bring our horses there. Just for the record, Dave and I were not what you would call "horsey people" at that time. Dave rode horses in his younger years and I had a Shetland pinto growing up. So what were we doing?
Again, we heard the broadcast of Kim Meeder on Focus on the Family. Our hearts were captured by the testimonies of God's unique way of using these incredible animals to touch hearts. Something inside kept pressing us to check out this ministry. So, we booked our flights to Bend, Oregon, taking along with us our oldest daughter, our trail riding friend, and Dave's parents. Little did we know that it would only be the beginning of some incredible experiences.
Dave's sister and her family became very interested in this potential ministry. They had just purchased 40 acres and would consider using it for the ministry. There was another 10 acre track adjacent to theirs that had a house on it. That spring, we put an offer on that acreage and house before we had even put our house on the market.
I wish I could say that the excitement was growing in me, but that would be far from the truth. It was fear. Our house sold in a weekend and the loan went through miraculously for the land and the house. It was all moving too fast for me. Had we pre-empted God? Was He really calling us out of our comfort zone? It felt as though I had saddled my horse and barely got one foot in the stirrup, and it took off--not at a walk, but at a full run...blazing a new trail.
Dave shared an awesome passage with me that has continued to give me faith and courage in this endeavor. You all know the story in I Samuel 14 about Jonathan and his armor-bearer. The situation is desperate. A bloody battle is imminent. Only Saul and Jonathan out of the whole company of soldiers have swords with which to fight. Jonathan slips away with his armor-bearer. He says to him, "Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; PERHAPS, the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few." Now I don't know about you, but if Jonathan said that to me, I would be saying, "PERHAPS? Are you crazy? You want to risk our lives on 'PERHAPS'? I want you to KNOW that you know that God is in this." (That was my thought about buying this land and house.) I wonder if the armor-bearer had a "check" in his spirit? As I pondered this passage, the Lord spoke to my spirit, "Is My arm too short that it cannot save? Am I restrained by many or few?"
"No, Lord. You are more than able." And so as the armor-bearer said to Jonathan, my response to my God under the direction of my husband had to be, "Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself and here I am with you according to your desire." Amazingly, in one acre of land THEY slew the enemy; even the armor-bearer slew a few.
Several years ago, we started this journey. What we thought this ministry would look like has taken on different appearances. We thought we would be working with emotionally handicapped children under the name of HorsePower. But then Dave started sharing a deeper desire of his to reach out to men in the rural setting. We saw God bring together a team of people with similar passions and talents that wanted to "saddle up" with us. Two years ago "Open Range" began as a monthly outreach. And now since November 2008 it has turned into a weekly "cowboy church" and many are coming to know the Lord.
Although I still don't know exactly where this trail will lead us, I am comforted that I am in good company with other ordinary people of faith. "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance, and he went out, not knowing where he was going" (Hebrews 11:8).
In closing, the very thing I told my daughters that we would never have, such as horses and land, we have. We have seven horses and one rescued donkey named Elvis who has ministered to many children. God truly is the Dream-Giver and the Dream-Fulfiller. I am humbled, but find it necessary to proclaim that we serve a much bigger God than we realize. And if we will continually release our fears of failure or disbelief, He will do miraculous wonders. I can picture in my mind, God smiling at me and winking back. "Is anything too difficult for Me? I, Myself, will accomplish all that concerns you" (Jeremiah 32:27; Psalm 138:8).
(Terry continues as administrative assistant to husband Dave, and now also serves as office staff for Open Range Fellowship in Lone Jack, MO.)