FOR YEHOSHUA AND ISRAEL, COWBOY TREKS 21/2 YEARS AND 12,400 MILES

FROM GOLDEN GATE TO GOLDEN GATE
 

Chicago Jewish Star

November 14, 2008 | Zohar, Gil

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JERUSALEM - New Mexico cowboy Couy Griffin completed a trek of 12,400 miles here October 27, arriving at the Old City's Golden Gate more than two years after setting out from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

"I felt myself being led to Jerusalem," the evangelist on horseback said in his soft Western drawl.

"I'm a born-again believer in Yehoshua, and felt myself drawn here. The most important event in the Bible - the sacrifice of my Lord and savior - took place here," said the 35year-old rodeo veteran gesturing at the Old City.

"I felt the Lord laid this whole ministry on my heart. This is where the Word became flesh. It's pretty awesome. It's a great blessing" to be here, he said.

Griffin grew up competing on the rodeo circuit in the United States, and spent nearly six years at Euro Disney outside Paris in a remake of the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

In recent years he has been working on his family's 3,000-acre ranch in Reserve, New Mexico, near the state border with Arizona.

Two-and-a-half years ago he set out from San Francisco on his trusty steed Molly, reaching New York City on September 11, 2006.

The final leg of his three-continent trek began in April in Galway, Ireland, and ended in Athens, Greece, from where Griffin flew on to Tel Aviv.

Riding across Ireland, Britain, and western, central and eastern Europe, Griffin has used a series of leased horses.

For the final leg of his pilgrimage cantering around the Old City ramparts, Griffin leased Ahab from a carriage ride operator named Muhammad. Showing a business card printed in Arabic, the cowboy wasn't sure of the horse owner's last name.

After coordinating his route with Israel Police (whom Griffin credited with being especially helpful), the cowboy picked up the animal at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Dressed in full Western regalia, including leather riding chinks and cuffs, riding boots with spurs, and a felt hat, Griffin and his various horses have drawn attention from Times Square to the Champs-Elysées. A sense of that adventure is captured in Griffin's website (ridingforisrael.com).

Among those fascinated by the sight of a cowboy in Jerusalem were 5-year-old twins Adam and Danny Carmeli visiting from Bangkok, Thailand.

"I give all glory to the Lord. We live in a world today where there is a denial of the existence of God," Griffin said.

More pragmatically, Griffin has been serving as a self-styled ambassador to Israel promoting tourism to the Holy Land during Israel's 60th anniversary year.

This trip is his fifth to Israel, he beamed.

"It's a blessing to come and pray alongside the Jews. We believe in the promises of God, and the existence of [the state of] Israel," Griffin said.