Horses head to Sunday school

West Mecca church holds service for all

MECCA — Just as people train and educate horses, God educates and teaches his people in different ways.

That message and others were shared by Jeff Rice, a Sunday school teacher at West Mecca Bible Methodist Church, 1215 state Route 88, who took three horses to church to illustrate his lesson.

Members of the church congregation gathered outside on the church lawn, where a small corral was set up to hold Rice’s three horses.

The congregation — many dressed as cowboys and cowgirls — learned about horses and how God works through the realms of nature.

Rice said by studying nature and animals, people can often understand more about the Bible.

“The Lord wants to show his sovereignty and his greatness. He desires us to praise him and give thanks to him. The Lord has genuine love for each of you, just as he has love for all his creatures,” Rice said as he had the three horses run in different directions around the corral.

He said if one of the horses gets out of balance, it can be disastrous. That’s why the cowboy — or with people, the Lord — is there to help. Rice said he helps that horse — just as the Lord helps each individual who may be lost or wounded.

“We are certain of the Almighty. He loves everyone equally. Everyone is equal in God’s eyes,” Rice said.

Each of the three horses has the same opportunity, but one horse may prove better at one kind of service than at another, something another horse may excel at doing.

Pastor Mike Shiery said Rice is the church’s youth Sunday school teacher and has done an entire series of programs on Biblical principles and following God.

“We had discussed an outdoor summer Sunday school with him, and he decided to bring his horses,” Shiery said.

Shiery said Rice, who is part of Cowboys for Christ, has worked with animals for decades. Rice demonstrates and illustrates Bible messages through the trained horses and what they can do.

“He told us how he trains his horses and how people have the same relationship as they learn and become educated through God’s message,” Shiery said.

Rice, of Champion, said while he knows the horses provide interest and draw attention, he hoped his message of God’s importance in their lives was understood.

“I use analogies through animals to get the message across,” he said.

The animals he brought included one horse new to his family and another he’s had for several years.

Cowboys for Christ holds programs at schools, rodeos, farms and other events, often vacation Bible school.

Church member Terry Stumpner of Colebrook said the service was not only different for being outside but because horses were at church.

“It was a good lesson, and the horses added to the message. It was nice to have this outside in the summer,” Stumpner said.