by Will Graham
Let me tell you about a friend of mine named Todd Pierce. Todd is a former rodeo rider, and an incredibly tough guy. He lived a wild life when he rode the circuit, but eventually found the hope that can only come through a relationship with Jesus Christ. His eyes were opened to the reality of grace.
Todd went on to found Riding High Ministries, and has an incredibly unique way of reaching people with the gospel message. You see, if there’s one thing that Todd knows, it is horses. He rode them for a living, and understands what makes them tick. God has blessed him with this gift, and he’s using it to proclaim Christ.
In Todd’s ministry, he brings a wild, untamed horse to a location—sometimes onto prison grounds—and uses that horse as an illustration of our lives before finding Christ. Right there in front of the audience, he tames the wild horse and shows what can happen when a life is given to the Lord. God has used this ministry in incredible ways to lead many into a saving knowledge of Him.
I could go on about Todd’s ministry, but I’d like to tell a personal story about Todd.
A couple years ago we were together in the community of Terrell, Texas, just east of Dallas, for an evangelistic Celebration. Todd came down from Idaho to share his testimony from the stage of what Christ has done in his life.
On Saturday, the second of the three days of the event, Todd was preparing to come over to the Performing Arts Center where the Celebration was being held. As he pulled up to a stop light, he saw a man by the side of the road asking for spare change. God moved in Todd’s heart, and Todd pulled his car off to the shoulder of the road and waved the man over.
Todd invited him to the Celebration, and after hearing what the man had to say about “those Christians,” convinced him to come along. The man quickly went off to find his brothers, and the three of them returned and climbed into the back of Todd’s car.
I had no idea that any of this was taking place while I was backstage preparing to preach during youth night. That evening, when I offered the invitation for the young people in the crowd to make a commitment to Jesus, I quickly noticed the full head of gray hair making its way down to the front.
One of the three men who Todd had picked up, nicknamed “Freebird” after the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, heard the gospel and, there in the Terrell ISD Performing Arts Center, prayed to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Afterwards, he told Todd, “They call me ‘Freebird,’ but I’ve never felt free in my life until tonight.” He couldn’t believe that people loved him and hugged him even though he was wearing dirty clothes and hadn’t showered.
The next morning, as our team met for devotions at the local Holiday Inn, we rejoiced at the work that God had done in Freebird’s life. We were grateful that Todd responded when he felt God calling him to pull the car to the side of the road.
As we closed our time together, we received word that Freebird was on his way to the hotel. He had decided that, having made a commitment to follow Christ, he wanted to be baptized as well! That morning, along with Todd and our emcee Mark Christian, I had the amazing blessing of helping to baptize Freebird in the Holiday Inn swimming pool.
When we asked Freebird (whose real name we learned was Fred) if he was going to come to Sunday afternoon’s final Celebration service, he declined.
“No, I’m leaving right now to head home to Alabama,” he said. “I called my wife and told her we’re kicking this alcohol thing, and we’re getting our marriage right.”
My friends, people need the Lord! Do you have an urgency in your spirit to share Him with others? Do you want to see people find true freedom in Christ?
When the Holy Spirit nudged Todd to stop alongside the road, he could have easily said, “I’m going to share my faith with thousands of people this weekend. I’m doing my part. I don’t need to do this too!” And when the man by the side of the road started bad-mouthing Christians, Todd could have driven away. But, of course, he didn’t do either of those things. Because of that, Freebird’s eternity—as well as his marriage and his life here on earth—has forever changed.
I love this story because Todd has not only come up with a unique way of sharing the gospel to large groups in a way that they will understand, but he also has a soft heart to hear the call of the Holy Spirit, and the boldness to reach out to a man on the side of the road.
Lord, let us all have this level of creativity, boldness, and sensitivity. Eternity is at stake.
Will Graham (William Franklin Graham IV) (@tellagraham), grandson of Billy Graham, is an associate evangelist and vice president with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has proclaimed the gospel across six continents since beginning his evangelistic ministry in 2006. He is also executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.