We have updated our Privacy Policy to provide you a better online experience.

New Ministry in Widowhood

Longtime rodeo trick rider Linda Scholtz discovers a reoriented purpose.
Opportunities resulting from change are something Linda Scholtz knows well. As Central Bible College graduates in 1976, newlyweds Paul and Linda Scholtz experienced some closed doors while preparing to enter ministry. Then a rodeo at the fairgrounds near the college brought an unexpected opportunity.

Trick rider Karen Vold, the wife of stock contractor Harry Vold, had recently rededicated her life to the Lord and wanted to make spiritual care a priority amid the rough environment of professional rodeo. Because Paul and Linda had been involved in college rodeo at CBC, Paul accepted an invitation to provide chaplain services for Vold Rodeo Company. Linda taught a kids’ class, including 4-year-old Kirsten Vold.

That simple start led to 39 years of ministry. Paul became a U.S. Missions endorsed rodeo chaplain and also competed in rough stock events. Linda learned trick riding from Karen Vold, and they eventually became business associates in a trick riding school. The Scholtzes settled in Boone, Colorado, as a home base for ministry travel, and their work has inspired other rodeo chaplains and cowboy churches.

In 2017, both Paul Scholtz and Harry Vold died. As Linda and Karen adjusted to their losses, Scholtz agreed to drive Vold’s motor home to the PRCA rodeos. There, they saw a need to encourage other widows in the rodeo community.

“Widows in the rodeo world have different challenges,” Scholtz says. “They may have employees depending on them, and horses and other stock that are part of their livelihood. They have to find ways to keep going.”

Scholtz’s ministry and 20-year trick riding career, along with Vold’s trick riding career, 50-plus years as a stock contractor’s wife, and induction into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, have opened doors for the ministry. Scholtz, 64, is now an appointed U.S. missionary serving with Chaplaincy Ministries. Missionary associate Jesse Anderson and his wife, Brittany, help with clinics and ministry. Kirsten, whom Scholtz taught as a child, now manages Vold Rodeo Company, but Linda and Karen still teach trick riding to clients from around the world.

Using the same gentle, well-trained horses required for “gymnastics on horseback,” yet another ministry has developed. Scholtz and Carol Dalby, a friend and co-worker, host a “cowgirl version” of equine therapy for women from Sarah’s Home, a facility for survivors of human trafficking.

“You can see God’s healing power at work as they get to be girls again,” Scholtz says. “After we unsaddle and brush the horses, we have Bible study, inspired by the trust the women develop with the horses or the emotions they feel.”

Scholtz’s home church, Praise Assembly in Pueblo and another area church, West Assembly in Fowler, have provided opportunities for widows’ retreats. Scholtz plans to expand the ministry, using materials developed by Marlene Craft, U.S. missionary to widows serving with Missionary Church Planters & Developers, and adapting the content to the rodeo context.

“Grief groups are necessary and good, but sooner or later widows wonder if God has more for them,” Scholtz says.

Scholtz believes a biblical context for widowhood is vital. After her husband’s death, in studying she discovered numerous Scriptures emphasizing God’s grace, provision, and purposes for widows. At the first retreat, Scholtz reviewed her findings with the women.

“I cannot adequately describe the change, the joy on their faces after they studied the verses,” she says. Now, each retreat opens by identifying each woman’s worst fears and negative thoughts, and finding the Bible’s answer. Scholtz says she is grateful God is building on the ministry she shared with her husband to specifically create new opportunities.

“Linda has been able to reorient the ministry she and Paul led for many years, to a new vision God has given her,” says Manuel A. Cordero, senior director of Chaplaincy Ministries. “While she retains some ministry within the cowboy culture, there is a fire burning in her for these new opportunities.”

Cynthia J Thomas

Cynthia J. Thomas worked for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions for six years before becoming primary caregiver for her father, a World War II veteran. She has served as a counselor for victims of domestic violence and women facing crisis pregnancies. Cindy and her husband, Phil, a schoolteacher, volunteer in youth outreach and have three adult children and one granddaughter.