Saturday, July 30, 2016

Warrior Walking

I can still see him standing in the middle of our friend’s driveway—a slight man, wearing loafers, Levi’s, and a pale blue shirt. A quiet man, but his voice rang with authority as he shared his street stories. Anthony Francis Monroe—Tony.

Dangerous enough on a good day, this former law enforcement officer patrolled the gang-infested Central California streets. One day, while driving through the city, God gave him a vision for a ministry that would challenge every area of his life: a mind picture of riding horseback down the Fresno streets, ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the different gangs. 

He’d never been on a horse and had no money to get one. But God’s “still, small voice” encouraged him, “Don’t worry how you will do it, I will make it happen.” 

He stepped out in faith and Cross and Horse Ministry was born. He mounts up with cowboy hat, boots, sturdy saddle bags carrying Bibles and necessities, and hits the streets with one of his ministry team: Grace, a 2000 pound Clydesdale mare (age 15) ; Lilly, a Paint/Quarter Horse mare (age 15); and Rex, a Belgian gelding (age 16).  Gumby (age 24), a Thoroughbred, and Cinnamon both served faithfully for many years and are now retired. 

Tony’s powerful stories of God’s interaction, power, protection, and grace will encourage you. I know they have me and continue to do so …

“But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
and will be secure, without fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33)

In ministering to gangs on the streets of Fresno, I first had to learn the principles of walking with God based on Ephesians 6.

One night, I encountered a man who threatened me and my horse, Grace (a 2000 pound Clydesdale) with bodily harm.  “Leave now!” the Lord commanded me.  That surprised me because God has never told me to leave a threatening situation. 

As I rode away, God got in my face saying, “You haven’t been praying or in my Word (the Bible) as you should.  You’ve been just going through the motions. YOU’D BETTER GET OVER THAT QUICK!”  I was under strong conviction, knowing He was right. I quickly repented and started praying and getting in His Word as if my life and that of my horse depended on it.

Three days later I encountered five older gang members who were smoking ‘crack’.  They also deal drugs.  They threatened I would get shot if I didn’t leave.  This time the outcome was different as I stood boldly on God’s Word.  God’s presence was there.

I don’t carry weapons when I am ministering on horseback.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Around midnight, I returned from ministering in a certain neighborhood and rode my horse, Cinnamon down a dark street.  Across the street, three gang members attempted to steal something out of the back of a pickup truck.  I yelled, “What’s up?”

“Don’t put your nose where it doesn’t belong or you’re going to get X’d out {killed}!” the older of the three yelled back.

“When I was seventeen-years-old, I asked Jesus Christ into my life, and He is right here with me now,” I countered.

They turned and faced me.  Slowly they approached, walking side-by-side.  “We don’t believe in God,” they sneered.

I started quoting scriptures from the Bible where God promises protection.  They came up to the horse, putting their hands in their shirts as if they each had a gun.  “We don’t believe in God or the Bible,” the older gang member repeated. “If you don’t get off our streets, you’re going to be X’d out!”

I remembered what Jesus had told His disciples when a “mountain” stood in their way. “In the Name of Jesus, LEAVE NOW!” I commanded.

Still, they threatened with their hands in their shirts. I side-stepped my horse, quickly coming up behind them. “Leave, in Jesus Name!” I commanded again.

Cursing and threatening, they spun around to face me once more.  But they slowly stepped back, and I followed them.  They backed up all the way to the next street.  And for the last time I commanded, “In Jesus Name, leave!”  They disappeared into the darkness, still threatening.
As I turned Cinnamon to leave, I thanked the Lord for His faithfulness to His Word.

Two weeks later, I was ministering again on Cinnamon and rode down an alley. That older gang member approached me again.  But this time his attitude had completely changed. “I’m sorry for threatening you the other night,” he apologized. “We were on drugs that night.  And anytime you need to preach at me … preach.”

These are just a few of many stories of the Cross and Horse Ministry over the last twenty-four years.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.” (Psalm 91:14)