A man of many talents, Todd Pierce is a champion bareback rider, professional horse trainer, and founder of Riding High Ministries in Idaho. He's also a pastor with a passion for sharing the Gospel in creative ways. Lately, he has been using his skills to bridle, bit, and saddle unbroken young horses at Hope Events on prison yards nationwide.
On April 17, Todd brought his ministry to Florida for a Prison Fellowship Hope Event™. There, he turned a prison yard into an inviting place for people to encounter Christ.
Incarcerated men in shades of blue gathered around the fenced-in ring to watch the event unfold.
TAMING A REBEL
A Prison Fellowship Hope Event brings worship, testimonies, inspirational performances, and uplifting entertainment to prisoners while providing a respite from the challenges of life behind bars.
In a cowboy hat and Prison Fellowship® T-shirt with "HOPE" printed on the front, Todd stood inside the ring, lasso in hand. Across from him inside the enclosure, a horse kept her distance. As Todd calmly circled the ring, the horse followed suit. Meanwhile, Todd shared his testimony with the men: his past struggles with alcoholism, fighting, and damaged relationships. And then how Christ entered his life.
Todd used the analogy of building a relationship with the wild horse to illustrate how Christ wants a relationship with each person. The Lord brings our bent, rebellious spirits in line with His perfect will—much like the way Todd, with patience and grit, saddles young horses.
"She's got all these people staring at her," Todd said to the men. "What's she doing in prison? What'd she ever do wrong?"
He stepped closer to the horse and said to her, "Well maybe, you're here so that you can be free."
'Well maybe, you're here so that you can be free.'
Measured and steady, Todd lassoed the mare. The audience applauded. With gentleness and composure, Todd built trust with the animal, and his message became clear: Being a Christian isn't just about having your will broken. It's about building a relationship with Christ.
Many men were moved by what they saw. And so was Todd, who says every prison visit is a reminder of the importance of discipleship behind bars and out.
"He drew the comparison between people and God, versus him and that horse," says Melvin, an incarcerated attendee. "It showed also how we should deal with one another. The horse bucked on him, and it kind of threw him off. And he came up to the horse and said, 'It's OK. You're doing good.'"
"I've seen myself in that horse," Melvin adds, laughing. "I've seen how I bucked, and God just kept bringing me back."
'I've seen myself in that horse. I've seen how I bucked, and God just kept bringing me back.'
—Melvin, currently incarcerated