By Jon Roberts – Montrose, Colorado … After a mandatory year off, the 21st annual Cowboy Camp Meeting assembled with some 75 attendees experiencing five days of a past lifestyle where the only worries were, “Do we ride the horse or the ATV to the meeting tent?”

The meetings, nestled in the heart of the National Forest, were attended by individuals from seven states, including a few outlaws, or non-cowboys, from Denver. The common thread of conversation among everyone was, “It’s good to be back!”

“It feels great to be back. This is one of the most beautiful spots in Colorado,” Ron Johnson, secretary treasurer of Cowboy Camp Meeting Association, enthusiastically exclaimed.

“It’s wonderful to be back,” Sharon Fisher, from Montrose, commented about returning after a five-year absence.

For others it was all about renewing friendships and connections. “I love seeing people I haven’t seen for a long time–people from all over the conference. It’s a real joy,” Wesley Cooper, a church member from Montrose, expressed. He added, “It’s such a great environment up here in the mountains. I’m a Colorado boy and I’ve lived in Colorado all my life. The mountains are home. I love it.”

The mornings featured Nathan James, pastor of the Moab, Utah district. His presentations focused on understanding the times in which we live and knowing what we ought to do.

For James, this was a unique experience. “I love the setting. It’s amazing. I enjoy the flexibility of the schedule, and the fact that there is some really great spiritual food, morning and evening, and discretionary time during the day.”

The evening concluded with Dick Duerksen, Oregon Conference story teller, doing what he is known for–telling stories. One story he told with gusto was about a couple living a not-so-licit lifestyle who started to attend an Adventist church. He explained how the man tested God in his tithe.  At first, nothing happened and the man was losing faith till his girlfriend convinced him to start tithing on his “not-so-legit” business. The couple was financially blessed until one evening they called the pastor asking him to do three things for them that weekend–marry them, baptize them, and help them start over with a lawful life in another location. Duerksen explained that this story is proof that when we fully trust in Jesus, our lives will improve.

Duerksen, who drove to the camp from Portland, Oregon, enjoyed the gathering immensely. “I think what I have enjoyed most is the spontaneity and spiritual interest in the people that are here. People who are just as thrilled to be at 9000 feet as I am–closer to God.”  What he hopes individuals will take home from his stories—“You can trust God; He’s a good friend.”

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Jon Roberts and Ron Johnson