ADA — Bulls, bucking broncos and the Bible were brought together at a rodeo arena that has come to life again in the Union Valley near Ada. Young cowpokes learned how to rope — and wrestle with matters of the soul — at the Bible Rodeo Camp held Memorial Day through Saturday at the refurbished Three Crosses/Ken Lance Rodeo Arena. Cowboy preacher, the Rev. Dan Megehee, and a group of rodeo champions like Jett McCoy, Matt Austin and Marty Byrd led daily devotionals with campers, then schooled them on bull riding, roping and other rodeo feats. Megehee, pastor at Three Crosses, said the rodeo cowboy’s image once was "the rough and tough outlaw with a bottle in his back pocket.” Today, many of these cowboys are professionals bent on keeping their minds and bodies strong and healthy, he said. And some of them are nurturing their spirit too. "More and more, they are putting that above their ride,” Megehee said. Bowde Sawyer, 10, of Ada, was the youngest of the cowboy campers out to learn more about his favorite pastime of bull riding. His mother, Amber Sawyer, is pianist at First Baptist Church of Ada. She said the camp combination of Bible and rodeo was an attractive draw. "It think it’s great,” Amber Sawyer said. "It teaches the kids not just about rodeo but how to be respectful of the arena and the animals. "It teaches them to be thankful if you rode the way you wanted, and if you didn’t, to be thankful anyway.” Matt Austin, 26, a rodeo champ from Sulphur Springs, Texas, wore a "Got Jesus?” T-shirt as he worked with the campers. Austin said he has had a successful rodeo career that was sidelined for a couple of months due to injuries. He said he’ll return to rodeo in a few months, but he first wanted to share the Gospel and some rodeo techniques with his new friends at the camp. "I’m out here to teach these guys to ride bulls, but to also share my testimony and to honor God,” Austin said. Austin encouraged one young bull-rider who didn’t stay on the bull as long as he wanted to consider himself blessed if he did his best on the ride. Megehee said the rodeo arena was refurbished through the efforts of the nonprofit Three Crosses Ministries and by many supporters who wanted just such a camp. He said the old concert pavilion that once hosted the likes of country greats Reba McEntire, Conway Twitty and George Jones has been renovated. The arena also sports a new concession stand and dorms have been created on the site. The arena, built by the late Ada rodeo cowboy Ken Lance, once hosted many rodeo events and hopefully will emerge again as a place for people to come together, Megehee said. He said he leads a cowboy church there Thursday nights and a men’s retreat is planned there June 19-20. As for the campers, the preacher said he was thrilled to see them grow closer to the Lord while learning more about rodeo. "It’s great to see them have the Lord in their life and depend on Him,” Megehee said. "It’s great to see them when they get out the gate because when the gate opens, God is the only one who has control.”
• What: "Rekindling the Flame’s Christian Men’s Retreat.
• When: June 19-20.
• Where: Three Crosses/Ken Lance Rodeo Arena southeast of Ada.
• Information: The Rev. Dan Megehee, (405) 203-5783, or online at www.thegospelstation.com.