Christian cowboy uses roping, riding to spread good news

Published: July 16, 2008 | 7210th good news item since 2003

For Steve Friskup, roping, riding and religion go together like prayer and praise, horses and sweat, families and fun.

Friskup remembers exactly when he met the Lord.

“It was December 3, 1995, one o’clock in the morning, on the first exit on I-40 at Elk City, Oklahoma, driving my pickup. I pulled over and said, Lord, I need some help,’ and he did.”

Friskup, who now works as a livestock auctioneer when he is not spreading God’s word at the Muleshoe Cowboy Fellowship, was then a cowboy and auctioneer who was adrift with no fulfillment. Even though he was a husband and father, he felt a desperate need to fill his otherwise empty existence with something that mattered. He knew there had to be more to life than always buying the first round at happy hour.

The first two years after Friskup asked for God’s help were the hardest time in his life.

“It’s hard to put old wine in new skin,” he says.

In 2002 Friskup and his wife, Robin, were in Canyon spreading the Gospel when he received a call from Gary Morris asking him to come to Muleshoe to help with a roping clinic and come every Thursday and give a message. Friskup felt drawn to move to Muleshoe and make it permanent. When he told Robin that the Lord wanted them in Muleshoe, she hesitated a minute and said, “Well, go ask him again.”

But move they did, and now neither one of them can envision living anywhere else. In those six years, Steve has seen the Muleshoe Cowboy Fellowship congregation grow to around 250 members. But his other labor of love is the Christian Roping Camp and Horsemanship Clinic that he helped with before moving to Muleshoe. The Cowboy Fellowship has held the clinic now for the past seven years at the Good Times Roping Arena north of Muleshoe.

“This camp could change your life!” declared the headline on the newspaper ad for last year’s clinic, which encouraged families and individuals alike to attend. Each day’s activities began in the Tabernacle, an open pavilion near the roping arena, with a round of prayer and singing to start the day in a positive way. The day always ended on a positive note as well, with supper followed by fellowship in the tabernacle.

Just like last year, families and individuals are welcome, prayer, praise, and meals will begin and end the day, and the roping clinic is still open to all ages and levels of ability and is geared toward team roping. Everyone helps with the ground work and helpful hints on becoming a better roper. Friskup’s two daughters, Kaci Morris and Kelsi Friskup, teach the horsemanship, which is usually geared to the younger riders.

This year the clinic is calling itself by a new name, the Cowboy Camp Meeting, and will focus on daily Bible study interspersed with lots of roping and riding sessions. Gary and Sheryl Morris’ Good Times Arena and the Friskup’s nearby family arena will be in full swing every day.

Friskup sees the roping clinic as the Cowboy Fellowship version of vacation Bible school. They ask $100 per family, but as the ad says, “If you don’t have $100, come anyway.” Friskup says experience has shown him that people tend to get more involved when investment is a factor, so that works in the camp’s favor, but no one has ever been turned away. The money helps with the cost of food and expenses, but making money is not the objective of the camp. The trick, Friskup jokes, is to get people to come for the roping and then introduce them to the word of God.

Last year about 35 families learned about roping and riding, enjoyed meals together, and shared testimonies at evening fellowship. The final service at last year’s clinic witnessed the baptism of a young roper who wanted to commit his life to Christ. An oval aluminum horse trough served as a handy baptismal pool at the arena.

Published in Faith
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