RESORT MINISTER SPOTLIGHT
It’s early Sunday morning as Brad Lartigue begins pulling on his snowboarding pants and warmest all-weather jacket. He’s getting ready to hit the slopes, but not in the way you might think. Brad, a North American resort missionary, is headed up the mountain to Big Sky Ski Resort—where he works on the volunteer ski patrol and as resort chaplain—to conduct an outdoor worship service.
This is Brad’s first stop of the day but not his last. Before he goes to bed tonight he will conduct another outdoor worship at Moonlight Basin Ski Resort, sing with the worship team at Big Sky Christian Fellowship and lead skier/snowboarder services on the slopes at Mountain Village of Big Sky. Then it’s down the mountain one last time for evening youth ministry.
Brad is a legend in Big Sky, Montana. Known to many as the “shred chaplain,” because of his excellent snowboarding skills. Brad makes himself available to serve the people of this community as often and in as many ways as possible.
“He does a fine job for us on ski patrol,” says fellow ski patroller, Jimbo Humphries. “His services are well attended and respected by everyone in the community, as well as the guests. He’s a true all-star here in Big Sky.”
Jimbo’s words echo the feelings everyone in Big Sky has for Brad. Especially Thomas Geithman, a 25-year-old from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who came to Big Sky to work in construction. “Brad’s a really nice guy,” Thomas says. “He likes to do all the same things I do, and he keeps me motivated to do Bible study and come to church. If it weren’t for him I would probably be getting into a lot of trouble around here.”
Thomas’ grandparents were concerned about him when he left Milwaukee, so when they found Brad’s ministry online they insisted Brad meet with their grandson. “Thomas loves snowboarding, he loves mountain biking, he loves all the things that many of us love here,” Brad says. “It was through this that I was able to invite him on a bike ride, on a day hike, and to our 20s Bible study ministry at Big Sky Christian Fellowship.”
Through their shared interests Brad got to know Thomas and learned about his struggle with alcohol and the many other decisions that took him down a dark path. “After talking to him and working with him, we were hiking in Yellowstone Park when I asked Thomas if he was ready to rededicate his life to Christ,” Brad says. “I said, ‘Whenever you’re ready.’ Finally, he said he was. And in January of 2007 he was baptized.”
Brad says the wide open spaces of Big Sky offer a good place to present the gospel, because Jesus set the example of ministering to people outside the walls of the church. “Jesus spoke to the multitudes from the bow of a boat in a lake, from the mountainsides, in the gardens, in marketplaces,” he says. “Meeting people where they are—in times of work and in times of play—and taking the opportunity to use God’s creation as a ministry tool to point people past the creation and toward the creator is a wonderful thing!”
It’s about making connections with people, showing them Christians aren’t all that different from themselves. “People tend to put ministers and missionaries in a box, just like we do God,” Brad says. “And when they see me on a snowboard or leading worship services on a ski slope, I think it means a lot to people to be approached in a way that connects with their interests.”
BIG SKY CHAPLAIN’S ASSOCIATION
BROCK & JANE SHORT
The Big Sky Chaplain’s Association had it’s official inaugural start during the winter season of 2009/2010 through the efforts of Brock & Jane Short, but they have been supporters, participants and Assistant Chaplains for Big Sky Resort Ministries for nearly a decade. Brock & Jane are originally from Old Hickory, Tennessee, but spend three-quarters of their time in Big Sky. They are avid skiers and sports enthusiasts to the core and they have a love for the sharing the message of Christ through the outdoors. When they are not on the ski slopes, you can usually find them running half marathons, sailing the lakes, mountain biking, hiking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, golfing and being #1 fans of the Titans football team!