When Chris’ dad became a Christian, it had a big impact on him. Chris now displays the same characteristics in his Christian life as he does as a pro – athlete, champion rodeo rider … bravery, standing firm and strength.
1. Runner-up NRA Rookie Champion (1992)
2. Runner-up Pro Tour Champion (1998)
3. Victorian Saddle Bronc Riding Champion (1999)
4. Runner-up Victorian Saddle Bronc Riding Champion (2000)
My dad had a big impact on me
We grew up living for our horses, competing in agricultural shows all over Victoria and South Australia with great success. Then, when I was nine, my folks become Christians. I saw such a change in them, especially in my Dad, that I committed my life to following Jesus at a youth rally a few months later.
Faithfulness in the isolation
Shortly after this, our family went to be missionaries in Nepal. I went to boarding school there and, amidst the isolation, I found Jesus to be real and faithful. The experience was a foundation for me in later years: I always knew I could trust in God’s faithfulness.
Chasing the circuit
I started to compete in rodeos in 1984. I travelled with two other Christian cowboys and, as we chased the circuit, we spoke in schools telling kids about Jesus. I was overwhelmed at the impact we, as professional athletes, were having on their lives. After two years of competing in rodeos, I felt that God wanted me to prepare for future Christian work, so I went and studied for two years at the Bible College of Victoria.
One of the greatest challenges a Christian pro athlete is to face is to put one hundred per cent into your sport without it taking over your life. This became really clear to me in 1996 when I decided I was going to win the title that work and ministry had hampered me from achieving before. So I chased my dream, leaving my wife Georgi at home with our young son Joshua. I returned very disappointed and disillusioned – nothing had gone right.
A dream to wake me up!
Shortly after that, I had a dream that my young son had crawled off a balcony and was killed. After waking and being overjoyed that Josh was alive I felt God speak through John 3:16. He said, “Chris, I didn’t lose my Son for you – I gave my Son so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” It was then that I realised, not only how much God loves, but also how he aches at those who die without knowing him.
Success in the saddle
That year I felt the Lord wanted me to quit rodeo and go back to college to finish my last year at Bible College. It was a difficult decision, but I was obedient and God was faithful. After I completed college, we went back on the circuit and God blessed my riding. I finished the year as number two on the pro tour and the next year I won the Victorian State title.
Chris in action!
Travelling and speaking
The Lord also blessed our Christian work. We became full time staff with Athletes in Action and since then we have travelled around the nation, sharing the message about Jesus with cowboys, and speaking in schools, churches and on camps. In 200, the Australia professional Rodeo Association appointed me as Rodeo Chaplain.
Being strong in love
A passage that means a lot to me as a Christian is 1 Corinthians 16:13 – 14:
“Keep alert. Be firm in your faith. Stay brave and strong. Show love in everything we do.”
It sums up how I try to compete and live – with courage and strength, and being loving to horses, judges, other competitors, and people generally.
Remember, God sent His Son (Jesus) for you that you could have eternal life – trust God – He is faithful!
This story and the above photos were taken from “The Prize”, a New Testament published by the The Bible Society in Australia Inc.
Article written by Ian Streeter. © 2002. Used with permission.
Visit a great web site from the Bible Society at godspeak.org.au
Outback Christians is a website to encourage those who live in the outback.
The Reason (music video)