Q-Racing Blog: Faith on the Backside

There are many blessings happening on the racetrack.

Quarter Racing Journal

There are many blessings happening on the racetrack.

It’s another bright sunlit morning on the Ruidoso Downs’ backside. Powerful horses glisten while playing on the walker. Horses strut to the track with the mindset that it’s time to stretch their legs.

Many of the horses walk within a few yards of Jana’s “Eagle Kids” playground. It is part of one of the most important areas on the backside – the Ruidoso Downs’ chaplaincy. It is the spiritual heart of Ruidoso Downs.

Pumping that heart for the past 17 years has been chaplain Darrell Winter. He’s grown the Ruidoso chaplaincy from a small room and moved it into the former track kitchen with numerous upgrades. There are always more additions on his mind.

“Our mission is to bring comfort and spiritual guidance to the backside of the racetrack,” said Winter, who is also treasurer of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America. “We do that through services, Bible studies, meals twice a week, English as a second language classes, a counselor who will give sessions to anyone who needs help with addiction or behavioral issues and we continue to do the best we can – with God’s help – to reach everybody at the racetrack.”

Education is the high priority. It ranges from adults reading to kids to youngsters improving their computer skills and learning about robotics.

“We really believe in education because I believe that can really raise the bar for everyone on the backstretch. It improves their life and helps them move ahead,” said Winter.

Winter is being aided this year by chaplain Bubba Cannon and the Argentinian husband-wife team of Fabian and Romina Crespo. The Crespos were at Ruidoso Downs last year and did a superb job with the ministry, especially the Spanish-speaking community members.

Churches outside of the Ruidoso area step up to help the ministry.

The Hill Country Fellowship, near Austin, will be in Ruidoso for the third year (June 8-11). The men will help construct a needed wall and the women will help in vacation Bible school.

Newcomers this year are members of the Erath County Cowboy Church. They will make three visits to Ruidoso Downs. College-aged members will help with the annual campout and vacation Bible school (June 20-25). Teens will visit (July 22-26) and then the adults show up (August 24-27).

The campout is a highlight every summer.

“The campout started with just (wife) Melanie and I taking the kids. That soon grew out of control and Melanie said she wouldn’t do it,” said Winter. “I had to start insisting that the parents come, but I can’t refuse a child.

“We have some loose cannons running around in the evening. We have a pavilion at Cedar Creek and it has facilities and we set up tents. The kids love it. We have a great time. We usually have 30-50 people who come out and camp.

“This year we’re looking forward to have college age kids to provide games and activities for them. We have marshmallows, campfire songs and things like that.”

One of Winter’s passions is training other chaplains and he is looking for a young chaplain to train and help with this ever-growing ministry.

“I look for it to continue to grow. I’d like to build the Spanish-speaking services because our community in Ruidoso Downs has a lot of Hispanic folks. So, I think, year ‘round they could aid our community and even our workers,” said Winter.

Many blessings have been received at the Ruidoso Downs’ chaplaincy. There are more to come.

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