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Why the barn on the front cover of the CD? The Praise Pardners music group was founded in conjunction with the planting of a Cowboy Ministry in Troy, Missouri, which at the time of production of this CD, meets in an old barn.  What about the album title?

The Lord works in his own timing, and we do not always clearly see His plan (or is that understand how it may come to fruition?).  The Worship-Up Saddle-Up ministry had its roots in a seed planted in two members of Troy First Baptist Church. Rusty Douglas and Jim Brown both had the inkling that a ministry focused on the equestrian community would fill a need in the community, but did not yet see it as being the time.  Heb 11:1-3 states:  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.   By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”  Not knowing how or when, Rusty and Jim had faith their vision would come to pass.

This is actually the source of the Praise Pardners' first album title “Believing the Lord”, as Rusty and Jim were believing the Lord to make it happen. (Note that we say “first album title”, as we are believing upon another to come.)  Jim was handed some recordings by a fellow church member of a cowboy church minister preaching the gospel. She told Jim she didn't know why, but he would need these some day.  Then, riding their horses together in the park, Rusty & Jim discussed the concept of a cowboy ministry. Several years later, Summer/Fall 2009, the idea resurfaced surrounded with prayer.

Prior to this, after Troy First Baptist Church purchased property just outside of town to expand, the church leadership purposed to sell off some of the property to reduce the overall debt created in the original transaction/building program. However, the timing of this coincided with the poor economic conditions of the day, and with land development and new home construction coming almost to a standstill, this did not take place.  “Coincidentally”, the barn resided on the property originally offered for sale...

A short time after this, the Lord had begun to put a few more pieces in place, including bringing the Romanko family to Troy from neighboring St. Peters. The Romankos thought they were just moving out to the country to have their horses on their own property instead of boarding with someone else.  Little did they know what the Lord had in store...

The Romankos had actually made an offer on a property in a different area – one that most would expect the sellers to accept. However, for unknown reasons (not to the Lord, as he knew where the Romanko family needed to be) the sellers rejected the offer (and as far as we know, more than 2-1/2 years later still own the property while living across the state). This led to the purchase of a property which would bring them to Troy First Baptist Church. This property, “oddly” enough, had been on the market for over 1000 days before it had been taken back off the market. About nine months later, the owner put the property back up for sale. The very day it was back on the MLS, it came to the attention of Terry Romanko – and as they say - “the rest is history”.

One Sunday in February 2010, Pastor Richie Rhea made a call for those interested in a ministry for the equestrian community. Martha Romanko answered that call, along with several others.  Plans to start the ministry began to take shape.  Pastor Rhea, Jim, Rusty, Martha, and others met in the barn on the property of the new church (the property/barn was only known to the Lord when Jim & Rusty first discussed a cowboy ministry years before), and prayed over this dirty, dingy, crowded storage area populated by mice, wasps, barns swallows, and gophers.

Someone to lead the music portion of the ministry was needed, and Randall Penberthy was approached.  When the question was asked about “where will we find musicians for the worship?”, Martha knew this would be a good opportunity for the Romanko family to put to service the talent the Lord had given them.  While the romanko family had training in classical music, bluegrass (or anything that required improvisation) was foreign to them. Terry, Jonathan, and Matthew purposed to meet with Randall to see if he could impart some of his many years of bluegrass skills to them.  After the first several meetings, Randall must have wondered what he had gotten into.  However, with his encouragement and patience, the “art of improv” began to rub off.

During this time frame, Randall realized he would not be able to devote the time necessary to lead the group, so he let Jim, Rusty, and Pastor Rhea know. The three prayed about this, wondering what to do next.  The following Wednesday evening, just as they were about to start a weekly planning meeting, Mike Herndon approached them to see if he could help out with the music. The three just smiled, as they knew Mike had plenty of music experience.  The Lord's plan was falling into place. Mike started essentially by himself for the first service or two. Rick Smith joined Mike a couple of weeks in, and the others followed over the next month or two, including Dave Hallows, who learned about the ministry through contact with the Bowling Green, MO cowboy ministry.  Tina Meyer was the last member to join the Praise Pardners about a year later.  While the music may have been a bit “rough” to start, the worship time never lacked a zeal for the Lord.


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