Kevin Tengvall, founder of the Ride for Life program of Merredin Uniting Church, shares his reflections on the program, as the mission comes to a close.
Ride for life was started in 2010 as a mission of Merredin Uniting Church. The idea came to me after talking to a work colleague who challenged me by asking why I wasn’t doing any ministry with kids. Which led me to question: what could I do? And how could I do it?
After a while I decided to use my passion for horses and concern for young people, put the two together, and Ride for Life was started in March 2010 under the auspices of our congregation.
Ride for Life was a program aimed at teaching young people life skills, aggression management, respect, perseverance, problem solving and social skills, through learning equestrian skills, by working with peers in their group, as well as volunteers, and of course, our wonderful horses. All horse riders understand the healing power of a horse, and their innate ability to teach us humility, patience, achievement, and love; and that is what we hoped to share with those young people.
Some of the kids lacked confidence, but over time their confidence grew. Every day, cleaning yards came first. The program ran for eight years with two programs a year until in 2019, when we took a year off due to my ill health. As my health hasn’t improved enough for me to keep going, it was decided with a heavy heart that we wouldn’t restart.
We have had approximately 70 kids in our program and have used about 25 different horses, mules and donkeys. We have had a myriad of trainers, helpers and prayer warriors who, without their service, Ride for Life wouldn’t have been the success that it undoubtedly was.
Ride for Life really was a mission; an outreach of the church. Not only did we see its effect on the students, but also on their families and all of us who volunteered their service every weekend in May and March over the eight years it was run. I was, and still am, humbled at the response to the call to my fellow Christians and local horse riders to help in any way they could. Their help was nothing short of inspiring. You all know who you are and what you did to make Ride for Life the huge success that it was, and like everything, “There is a time for every purpose under Heaven” and so it was a time to end.
Thank you Lord and all your servants who answered your call in any way they could.