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The following was written about a year-and-a-half ago but is being shared here in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (Oct. 15). There is an amazing update to this story coming out later this week. Please email the word “subscribe” to cowboysofthecross@gmail.com to receive this and other stories that usually do NOT appear here at Cowboys of the Cross.

By Scott Hilgendorff/Cowboys of the Cross

The older I get, the more I feel like a parent cringing at some of the choices you see these cowboys make that you know are going to hinder their careers or hurt them in some way you'd like to protect them from. Most often you can't and just have to be there for them should they decide to share with you the troubles they are facing. But every now and then, one of these guys will impress the heck out of you by knowingly, and willingly, handling an impossible situation from a Biblical perspective.

The life and death of Colton Terry is one of those times.

If the doctors had their way, Colton would not have come into this world late this winter. His life would have been terminated three month's into George's wife, Andrea’s pregnancy when they discovered he had Edwards Syndrome. Even then, Colton's odds of ever being born were slim as having the syndrome means the child has an extra chromosome which causes any number of conditions from poorly developed hearts and lungs to kidney and intestinal malformations.

In Colton's case, a poorly developed brain lead to seizures that 100 days after his birth, finally took the infant's life. That was 100 days of needless suffering from the doctors' perspective but to the Terry's, it was 100 days that God gave them to love and care for a child they got to feed bottles to after doctors suggested he would never be off of life-support. George will be the first one to tell you his Christian walk is not as focused on God as he would like it to be.

But he will also tell you he is a 'cowboy of the cross'. His faith is real and when it comes down to it, he is a Christian first, a husband and father second and a cowboy third. So for George, when the doctors recommended terminating the pregnancy, they said no. When the doctors presented to them the odds of survival to birth, when they explained how much care the boy would need if he was born, when they finally pushed too hard for an abortion, George pushed back with words only a cowboy would use to make it clear Colton's life was in God's hands, not his or the doctors'.

He said the medical professionals struggled to understand that perspective, knowing what a hard life the infant would have and that the odds for survival were a fraction of a percent. “Do I ask, 'why?'”, George said during a telephone call. “No...I understand it's God's plan for him. Is it fair? No. It's not fair...but life isn't fair.” George admits it's frustrating that a 'crackhead' that doesn't have a safe home for a child can have a healthy baby while theirs had to suffer.

But, he also understands that while he'll never get to teach Colton to ride a horse, our time here is shorter than we can understand and that Colton's real home is in Heaven. Some of you will actually remember the story of my first encounters with George. Before I had even entered ministry full time, I had begun receiving emails through the ministry website from a woman who was concerned for a war vet who had recently come home and begun bull riding again. As a family friend, she was concerned the lifestyle would challenge his growing faith and would I pray for him to not fall back into the old temptations the life of a bull rider can be faced with. His name was, “Bo”. When she later learned I was going into ministry full time and would sometimes get to go to some events in the southern states, she asked me to keep an eye out for him. When she found out I was going to a bull riding in Kentucky, she again asked me to try to find him and encouraged me to try to build a relationship with him to help keep him focused on his Christian faith. I tried but couldn't find him on any bull riding association membership lists or at the event in Kentucky.

But George was one of the first cowboys to introduce himself to me and as we talked that night, he asked if I would partner with him to help push him in the 'right' direction. I was able to see him every now and then and we kept in touch by phone though because of physical distance, I never felt like I was able to be as much support as he needed or wanted. Meanwhile, as my relationship with George grew, Bo's friend kept insisting he was riding somewhere in Kentucky and pleaded with me to keep an eye out for him. I had to keep telling her no one knew of anyone named Bo that was riding in those parts. I don't remember anymore how the topic of George's old nickname came up, but it turned out prayers had been answered when I learned that George and Bo were one and the same.

Five years later, I was moved to tears talking to George about Colton. Not for the loss, but for the gain in getting to see just how mature a christian George was turning into, advocating for his son's life, recognizing God's authority and staying strong for his wife, knowing his time to cry can come soon. For 100 days, the child felt the love of his parents and even got to spend time in his own home as they provided round-the-clock care for the boy before seizures saw the little fighter admitted to hospital for the last time late last month.

“I spent our second-year anniversary ordering a headstone for my son,” he said, matter-of-factly. It's just what he has to deal with. He's dealing with what he has to and said it's hard not to feel torn up when he sees pictures of Colton around the house but he's understanding the bigger Biblical picture. He's not angry with God and he believes it when myself and others tell him this will turn into a chance to minister to others.

It's my prayer that by sharing a snippet of Colton's story, George's loss can begin ministering to others who are going through similar, impossible struggles. Meanwhile, I couldn't be prouder or love this cowboy more as I thank God for the encouragement that comes from seeing a cowboy tackle the hard stuff the way the Bible teaches us to handle it—accepting God's authority and trusting in Him to see it through.

The Short Life of Colton Terry


ABOUT US: Welcome to Cowboys of the Cross: your resource for Christian cowboys. Cowboys of the Cross is the new home for Riding for Christ Ministries, providing cowboy church and outreach to the rodeo and cowboy community for more than 10 years. The new web site is your source for stories of faith and encouragement as well as devotions and news and information affecting cowboys of faith. Cowboys of the Cross also serves to minister to rodeo cowboys and bull riders by traveling to rodeos, bull ridings and equine events across Canada and the United States. Learn more about us here:   MORE ABOUT US HERE

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