Under the bright lights of the rodeo arena, fast, athletic horses lope in choreographed patterns, their hooves pounding to the beat of music. Skilled rider Adison Wright holds Brandy’s reins in one hand and a giant flag in the other. Elly Rainey on her mount named Cactus follows behind, in step. Ridin’ on Faith is an equestrian drill team that uses horses to share the gospel.
Lisa Searcy has learned a lot since founding Ridin’ on Faith Ministries in 2011. She has learned to depend on God when He asks you to do what seems impossible. “I can’t put into words what the team means to me,” she says. “It’s God’s purpose for me.” Over the past 10 years, Searcy says God has “opened the arena gate” by bringing leadership, riders, volunteers, and exciting event opportunities to the team.
“Even if she didn’t ride a horse, Elly would want to be on the team,” says mom Lacey Rainey. Three years ago, Elly was crushed by bullying. That’s when she saw the Ridin’ on Faith team perform at a rodeo and decided to join the team. “I said, ‘Mom, that’s what I want to do,’” remembers Elly. Since her audition, Elly’s parents have watched their daughter become happy and confident. She no longer struggles for acceptance. Teammates remind Elly of her value and purpose as a child of God, gently reminding her how Jesus loves her. Elly’s parents say, “Ridin’ on Faith has changed our lives.” The program helps bring redemption to brokenness.
When Anita Pace lost her first husband in 2012, their daughter Lauren Thomas—who loved horses just like her daddy—felt she had lost a piece of herself. Ashley Oliver was Lauren’s dad’s nurse before he died. She loves Jesus, horses, and the family. Oliver invited Lauren to join the Ridin’ on Faith team, with the hope that God would use it to rescue the teen. That is exactly what He did! God took Lauren’s love for horses and surrounded her with a team that would help her heart heal. “God truly transformed our family, through Ridin’ on Faith,” says Pace.
God continues to use the team to bless its riders and their families, as well as audiences across the southeast United States. “It doesn’t matter if there are 10 people or 1,000,” says Searcy. “We reach people that may not ever go to church. We have a simple message. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”