My introduction to horseback riding took place at the young age of seven, when my mom signed me up for Girl Scouts. I was content to become part of a wholesome organization—weekly meetings, community projects, and cookie selling—but what I really wanted out of the experience was to attend Girl Scout camp. Why? The adventure of spending a few nights away from home, making s’mores over the campfire, and going horseback riding with my friends.
My dad had promised me a horse once, when he thought an out-of-state career move was imminent and figured a new pet would help soften the blow for his kids. The job change fell through, though, and we stayed in the city. Consequently, Girl Scout camp remained my sole opportunity to learn about horses, and I did. This included the proper way to mount, how to make a horse go forward, how to stop, how to back up, and how to steer.
Back in a time when horseback riding was a transportation necessity, the English-born circuit rider Francis Asbury (1745–1816) rode over 5,000 miles each year and preached the gospel every other day. One of the most notable Christian leaders in American history, he was influential in making the Methodist Church the largest Protestant denomination in nineteenth-century America. He was poor, uneducated, and unknown, but he lived a rich and remarkable life. He led by example—recruiting young men to join him in preaching and building relationships with all kinds of people as he crisscrossed the nation. Many consider him as much a founding father as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
Which brings me to YWAM Publishing’s latest release, Francis Asbury: Circuit Rider. This new title from authors Janet and Geoff Benge chronicles Asbury’s devotion to ministry and spreading of the Christian faith, including nearly fifty years when he had no home (he once told a friend that his mailing address was simply “America”).
Horse enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who will enjoy Francis Asbury: Circuit Rider. Just as Girl Scouts taught me the values of character, service, and citizenship, today’s readers will appreciate the lessons that Asbury’s life in the saddle reveals to us: how to share the gospel, how to make your faith go forward, how to back up, and how to steer.