Horses have played an unusual role in Martin Blount’s Christian journey. And they are in centre frame again as he prepares to ride for God again on an epic family mission expedition.
Martin’s first horseback encounter with God happened a few years ago while he was participating in an 80km endurance ride. He was hungover from a night of heavy drinking and his horse, Alkebar, was fighting him every step of the way.
“After 50km something slapped me of my horse and I found myself lying face down on the ground. I am a good rider and I do not fall of horses; my horse didn’t throw me, someone just swiped me off. As I got to my knees I decided I might as well stay there and surrender. So I called out to God, I was so tired of life and sin and fighting. I was carrying such a heavy load. God answered me and in that instant I was delivered from alcohol and pornography,” he says.
Filled with wonder and joy
“When I got back onto my horse I felt light, like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders, my horse was himself again all of a sudden, no more fighting. My hangover was gone and I was filled with wonder and joy.”
Thereafter Martin read the Bible, read Christian books, got involved in church and poured himself into his relationship with Jesus. During this season a friend, and new Christian, Eddie, said he had dreamed that he and Martin and a friend, Braam, who had witnessed to Martin before he was saved, rode on horses from Polokwane to Cape Town, testifying how Jesus had changed their lives.
Days later during a Bible study Braam read Zachariah 1:8-10 which talks of red, brown and white horses and men the Lord has sent on a mission.
“What made this scripture so powerful was not the fact that horses were mentioned, but that I rode a white horse, Braam rode a red horse and Eddie rode a brown horse. Later that same day Eddie bought his first Gospel CD and listened to song number 8 (Zachariah 1:8 — first CD, number 8); the song — ‘Saddle up and ride for Jesus’.
On March 8, 2010, Martin, Braam and another friend (Eddie had decided not to join them) set out on horseback from Polokwane. The friend rode halfway with them and Braam and Martin completed a 2 200km ride to Cape Augulhas in four months. He said God touched many lives during their ride.
Martin and his wife were divorced in November 2011. He tried to save the marriage but she wanted to leave him. He had caused her much heartache through his debauched lifestyle before he met Jesus, and she could not relate to his zeal for God after he was saved.
Martin later met Nina, a woman who has been forgiven and set free by Jesus after decades of shame and bondage which began when she was sexually abused as a child and continued in a lifestyle of prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse and witchcraft. Martin introduced Nina to horses and they got married.
“We both love God with a passion and share a great passion for horses,” says Nina.
“God has called me to saddle up and ride again. This time I am taking my wife and daughter [Amber] with. We, are planning to take a horsebox, a motor home and three horses and travel all over South Africa ministering as far as we go,” says Martin.
“Our daughter will be home schooling during the journey. So we will ride according to a schedule that allows for her schooling to stay up to date. We will be inviting young adults from various congregations to spend a couple of weeks with us from time to time to grow in Jesus and to help with the horse care etc.
“We are taking our rig and 3 horses and setting off from Tarkastad where we are currently located and heading south towards Cape town which is approximately 900km from Tarkastad. We are leaving on the 15th June 2014. There will be other riders joining us for the send-off and doing the first 20 to 30km with us.
“Between Tarkastad and Cape Town there are about 30 small towns. We will be stopping at each of them, and at farms and villages between them, holding services and giving testimony in the existing churches. From Cape Town we are heading north-west up to the border of Namibia. Once again stopping at every town and church the Holy Spirit leads us to. We plan to do around 3 000 to 6 000km during our journey; could be more could be less. God is in control and it will be as He leads.”
Martin says they have enough money to keep riding for a month or two and will depend on sponsorship to complete their journey. In a bid to raise funds they sent 80 emails to cowboy churches in America. One church — New Hope Cowboy Church — responded.
“Since then God has moved them to ask us to open a branch in South Africa. So during our journey we will be promoting New Hope Cowboy Church South Africa. When we stop and have secured property we will be opening the church in partnership with them. God overwhelms us!”
Martin says they are looking for people to sponsor them a rand, a dollar or pound (depending on their local currency) for every kilometre they ride per day
“We are in the process of opening a NPO and hope to have all of that in place soon.
“We want to set up a network of churches across South Africa, that all work together and support each other. There are many people with hearts like ours that do not fit into conventional churches as they are considered too radical, too wild. We want to harness that zeal and steer it in the right direction.
“We want to create a church family of individuals who have experienced the life changing effects of a relationship with Jesus Christ. We want to create a platform where people can follow Jesus, where there are no pretenses. The person in shorts and a ball cap is as welcome as the one in a suit, and the really good thing is, no one will notice the difference. We want people to feel at home with God and each other the minute they walk in the door, so we have an open approach. We were not called to make church people comfortable, but to provide a place for the lost to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.
“God’s plans are always bigger than us, and we do not know how we are going to do everything the vision entitles. We only know that God will make a way where there seems to be no way and as long as we stay in His will He will provide,” he says.
Anybody wanting to sponsor the ride for Jesus or wanting more information about it, may contact Martin at 074 2080 534 or email@example.com.