Thursday, November 1, 2018

Christian Cowboy Ministries: An Interview with Fred G. Ellis by Gina McKnight

Fred G. Ellis in the studio recording his new CD.

Christian Cowboy Ministries: An Interview with Fred G. Ellis
by Gina McKnight

Social media allows us the opportunity to connect with amazing people. One person in particular, Fred G. Ellis, shares uplifting and motivating messages, enhancing the social media experience. Sincere, witty, and wise, Fred brings humor and intriguing passages to my news feed. Fred is the Executive Director of Christian Cowboy Ministries, a non-profit that brings God's Word to prisons, as well as Cowboy Church to those looking to enrich their faith. I enjoy reading Fred’s poetry and passages. I think you will, too…

Welcome, Fred!

GM: Fred, you have a large following and many fans. As a poet, you write of your faith, being a cowboy, and life in general. Please share one of your poems...
FGE: I have included this poem published in Humorous Cowboy Poetry by Gibbs Smith in 1995 and my most recent poem The Last Ride which is in my new CD, A Drifters Savin’ Story.

Dear Mr. Forman,
I told you I was from the city the day that I was hired,
So why in only three short days this note that I am fired?
Something must have gone astray as your temper blew.
Oh, please give me one more chance to make a buckaroo.

I bought a big hat, red bandana and a leather vest,
Soon I’ll have the boots, chaps, spurs and all the rest.
I will learn the famous cowboy grin and talk the cowboy talk.
A cob between my cheeks I’ll place to master the cowboy walk.

I’m sorry for committing a horrible greenhorn sin:
Rest assured you’ll never see me milk your bull again.
The next time that I saddle — I know that I will pass;
The saddle horn will not be faced toward the horse’s tail.

Let us start anew; all the damage has been done.
Besides, it wasn’t all my fault I branded your left bun.
I have promised all the hands, if I ever chew again,
Before I spit—I’ll look around and check prevailing wind.

This is all I’ve ever wanted, to cowboy I have yearned.
I beg you, Sir, let me stay, my lessons I have learned.
Keep me on; don’t ship me off like some steer to the slaughter,
For if you do, I promise you, I’ll come back and marry your daughter.

The Last Trip
Once again, he’ll take a trip to the tack room in the barn,
He’ll sat beside his Slick Fork and let it spin a yarn.

The bat wing chaps he wore for years hang upon their rack.
They seem to say as he looks their way “You ever comin’ back?”

The Jingle Bob’s are silent now, their tune will play no more.
His spurs retired long ago to the nail by the door.

He dawns the ol’ gray Stetson and again the past appears,
He pictures pards and horses that filled up eighty years.

The memories it holds inside have value more than gold
And they became a poke full when he started growing old.

He’ll shut the door one last time knowing he’ll not be back,
God had tightened His loop of life and is takin’ up the slack.

The visions in this cowboy’s life God will soon erase
As he beholds the Son of Man and looks upon His face.

As he walks back toward the cabin one memory lingers on,
The day he gave his life to Christ in a cool morning dawn.

He preached salvations message to a thousand hands or more
Praying each would heed the word of God and look toward heaven’s door.

He thanked the Lord for the life he lived as he sat upon the porch
And wondered why the hands today are afraid to carry the torch. 
                                                                             copyright Fred G. Ellis 2018

GM: Appearing in prisons with your message of hope, music, poetry, comedy, and more, you reach a lot of people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to know a real Christian Cowboy. What message do you bring and how has it impacted your audience?
FGE: In every prison show I state, “I’m first a child of God, second a Cowboy and third a nuisance but I’m not going there.” This opens their minds to three facts; I believe in Christ, I am a cowboy and I enjoy humor. My message is threefold. One, God cares for them enough to send a Cowboy with a humorous show to provide laughter in a place where there is very little. Two, I try to encourage them to seek the salvation of Christ Jesus who will give them comfort during their incarceration and the promise of eternal life and a home in heaven with Him. Third, I show them my love for God and my desire to serve Him by obeying His call when He directed me to minister in the prisons and they too can reap the blessings of God by obeying His will for them. It is difficult for me to say what impact God has made through this ministry. God has never asked me to keep a tally as you would with livestock and I don’t ask, I just go when the gates are open. We have seen men and woman come to know the Lord during a show and I have been thanked with the deepest and most sincere thank you’s for caring enough to bring the show inside the walls. I’ve also been recognized by some after they have been released and always with the same heart felt thank you’s for my shows in the prisons. It is really not for me to know the impact of my prison shows, only that God has used the talents He gave me to reach inmates for 23 years

GM: Of all the places you have visited with your message, which venue has had the most impact?
FGE: That’s a tough one as every venue has had a special impact on me in some way. I believe the venue having the most impact was my first solo show at the Little Baca Theater in Springfield, Colorado. I was supposed to perform with a cowboy singer but the person called me and said they could not do the show for reasons I won’t go into and would I call and cancel the show. I informed the party they had to call and tell them they were not going to do the show because I had committed and I was not going back on my word. I was not sure I could do a 90 minute solo show as I had only been preforming for about year and that was at cowboy poet gatherings but I have always been full of try and keeping my word to folks. The outcome was truly a gift from God. Not only was the show well received but I was invited to stay at the home of one of the oldest ranch families in that area. I never stayed at their place but did return for more shows in Springfield. I believe God used this to show me it was Him who gave me the gift to entertain folks and that started my years of doing one man shows.

GM: You are a Cowboy (I've seen photos of your horse). When was your first encounter with a horse?
FGE: My first encounter with a horse was when I was 3 years old. His name was Little Red and he had a leather head and broomstick body. You got it - a stick horse. My first ride on a real horse came when I was 4. My grandma took me to some kind of event and they had pony rides so she paid for two or three rides as I remember but the smell and feel of that horse never left.

GM: Tell us about the horse(s) you currently stable and how they influence your ministry...
FGE: I currently own 3 horses, Bonnie, Buck and Josie. Having been an outfitter for 18 years my wife, Elaine, and I started a horse program for the children of inmates. We took the kids on week long horse trips in the mountains of Colorado. The program lasted eight years and Bonnie is a horse from that program. As for their influence on the ministry. They give me a time to rest from shows and preaching and reflect on the horse programs we had through Christian Cowboy Ministries.

GM: What advice do you have for novice horsemen/horsewomen?
FGE: My advice for novice horsemen and horsewomen. Save your money for feed and as soon as the banks are clamoring for your business invest in an ice cream shop. Just kidding. My advice is do not get a horse that is beyond your riding ability. As horses go from un-trained to green to trained, so a rider must take the same steps. Also take your time in learning. Fast is good in horse races but not in learning the basics of riding. Last but not least. Learn to read your horse’s mind during each and every ride. They will tell you everything about themselves if you watch and listen. 

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
FGE: To me horsemanship is earning the trust of the horse but in order to do that you must first understand their world before you can teach them about yours.

GM: What exactly is Cowboy Church and how can I participate?
FGE: What exactly is Cowboy Church? I have been asked that question more times than I have preached in one. Originally, they were set up to have a worship service with no denominational rituals, just some old gospel songs and a message straight from the bible. The service most often ended with a roping, penning and other events in the life of a cowboy. Note-some of the Cowboy Churches still have competition after the service. The first to attend these were cowboys, cowgirls and ranchers. Today I would say there are more Cowboy Churches being pastured by non-cowboys looking for some venue they can preach at and attended by non-cowboy or AG folks who fell more at ease worshiping in a very informal setting. The name Cowboy has always drawn attention and so it is with Cowboy Church. The main thing to look for is if the preacher is preaching from the Bible and his or her words are accurate. The rest depends on if you feel at home attending.

GM: As a motivational speaker, what is the most important concept that people should remember for success and good living?
FGE: As one who is born again I naturally would say the two things to insure success and good living would be accepting Christ as one’s Lord and Savior and living in God’s will for their life. In my spiritual messages and motivational talks I always try to send the idea that success and good living are not a result of goals one sets but rather the accomplishments they achieve. Often not reaching goals can lead to a life of discouragement. Example; You set a goal to be the number one barrel racer or calf roper but in trying to reach that goal you never had the horse that would take you there. After a time you become discouraged and quit with the feeling you were a failure and should not have attempted the sport. On the other hand if your desire is to achieve recognition as a barrel racer or calf roper and are recognized as one of these you have achieved what you wanted and will have the satisfaction of your accomplishment. With this attitude one will more often than not win their share of events. No matter the educational level, financial level or societal level the end result of one’s life accomplishments will depend on them and what they do with the talents they have. This goes for Christians and non-alike. Remember, just because someone rides a horse different than you do does not mean you’re wrong.

FGE Finial Comments:
I was blessed with being a slow learner in school and told at least twice a week I would never make it. No one told me what it was so not knowing I achieved far more than I realized at the time. My dream as a three year old was to be a cowboy and that dream materialized when I was in my 40’s. While I was never given credit for being poetic or a poet in school I found a home in Cowboy Poetry which lead to my two different one man shows, recording of two cassette tapes, three CD’s and a book which has been sold out. I still travel around the country doing my shows and just recorded a new CD of my spiritual cowboy poetry titled ‘A Drifters Savin’ Story’. I have not written a book since we stopped using stones to write on but hope to have one out in mid-November. On top of all this God called me to a ministry in the prisons and guest speaking at various churches. If it sounds like I am proud of what I have achieved, I am not. I am content in knowing God has blessed me for using the talents He gave me to make an impact for Him on others. 

Connect with Fred…

Fred's new CD cover and "How I dress most of the time."

Fred speaking at a private party.