Johnson Ranch stretches across a beautiful piece of pasture in Denton, North Carolina. Each Thursday night, it's the site of a church service like no other: High Rock Cowboy Church. It's a church service in a barn, in the middle of Johnson Ranch.
Nancy & Rick Martin are the geniuses behind it all. They also own Johnson Ranch. Nancy describes the mission: "We want to spread the news of God, the living God and to touch other peoples' lives and lead them to Christ."
What sparked the Thursday night conversion of the ranch into a Christian corral? It was a medical turn a few years back. It was serious, nearly deadly. Nancy spent six and a half weeks in intensive care. She had an infection in her intestine. The prognosis was poor. Then, Nancy says she had a spiritual encounter.
"I saw the light. I got to experience going to the light and walking and talking with the Lord.
I never saw his face. I only saw his back and his shoulder like in Exodus with Moses. I said "come on" and he said, "No, it's not your time. You have to go back now."
And in an instant Nancy snapped back: into the hospital bed, back into her body. Then, surrounded by family, the doctor made a declaration: Death was near. Nancy had other plans. She says God told her she would be healed. She was.
Since the medical ordeal, Nancy's been on a mission to spread God's word one cowboy or cow girl at a time. She says, "during that time, it dramatically affected our life and our faith. We just wanted to impact others' lives as God had done to ours."
Pastor of the High Rock Christian Church, Rev. Tom Campbell says the church provides spiritual enrichment to ranch culture in a format conducive to the lifestyle: "The freedom to be able to do those things if they want to. If they've got hay they want to get out of the fields or if they want to go riding in the mountains."
Folks come from near and far for this unique spiritual experience! There are some surprises. Rev. Campbell breaks it down: "Every once in a while we keep them entertained with a snake in the rafters or a rat on the ground." Still, when all is said and done, Campbell admits the folks who attend High Rock are "honest hard-working people, they want you to give it to them straight. They want the truth. "
Everyone is welcome to the High Rock Cowboy Church service. You can catch it every Thursday night at 7 o'clock in Denton, NC. Cowboy hats and boots are optional.