Dan’s father has dealt with physical disabilities for the better part of a century. Now nearly 90, he spent 12 years in bed as a young man. Doctors have never been able to determine the cause of his limitations. But when he visited his son, a Christar worker serving in the Middle East, Dan got a glimpse of why God may have allowed his dad, then in his 70s, to endure this struggle.
Dan watched as his local friends observed his father’s gnarled hands and awkward gate. Immediately, they would ask, “Dan, who sinned: him or his dad?’”
Just like the disciples, who saw a man without sight and asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” the people in Dan’s community assumed that a handicap was a direct result of misdeeds. But God has used his father’s disability in a glorious way.
“What an opportunity!” shares Dan. “I told my dad, ‘One of the reasons you have what you have is so we can share the gospel. Everyone who sees you asks, ‘What sin was involved?’” This question opened a wealth of opportunities. “Each time, I could direct the conversation to the biblical perspective of sin, how each person will be held responsible before God and how salvation was sent by way of the prophet Jesus Christ,” Dan recalls. “Many today carry the gospel story in their hearts because my father carried a blemish of the fall in his physical body.”
Now, through a new equine ministry, Dan hopes to be able to introduce many more to the good news of redemption found in Christ. In 2010, Dan and his wife, Hannah, founded Cleft of the Rock, a retreat center in the forested mountains of the Middle East that helps workers facing ongoing stress receive the rest and care they need to remain healthy on the field. This center is a place of restoration and equipping for both cross-cultural workers and local believers who serve in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The restful setting of Cleft of the Rock is an ideal location for a therapeutic horseback riding ministry. Dan and his teammates are developing an outreach that will help those living with disabilities better manage physical and mental challenges as they learn to interact with and ride horses.
This equine outreach will not only address the mental, emotional and physical aspects of disabilities, but will meet deep spiritual needs as well. By God’s grace, many will discover that they were made in His image and created to know and worship Him.
By serving those who are often seen as an embarrassment or burden in the Middle East, Dan and his teammates also seek to impact the surrounding community as they communicate the inherent worth and dignity of every person. In a place where those who are differently abled are often viewed with fear or disgust, therapeutic options are few and far between. As Cleft of the Rock reaches out to families impacted by disabilities, it will speak volumes about their worth in the sight of God.
Having horses onsite will also enable Cleft of the Rock to offer additional services that will help workers continue to serve in least-reached communities. Dan and his teammates look forward to providing therapeutic riding and outfitting (backpacking on horseback) to those who visit the retreat center.
These two complementary ministries will work hand in hand to give more people access to the good news of Christ. As this new equine outreach communicates the value of each person in God’s eyes and ministers to workers who serve in communities where few have heard the gospel, it will ultimately help more least-reached people embrace the redemption and hope Jesus offers to all.
- Pray for wisdom for workers as they begin this new outreach.
- Ask God to provide the funds needed to fully establish this ministry.
- Ask that through this outreach, many will discover that they are made in God’s image and created to know and worship Him.
- Pray that those in the surrounding community will come to know the redemption found in Christ alone.