Vivian-area resident and rodeo bull rider Dylan Madsen is no stranger to challenge and hard work. He is ranked No. 154 by the Professional Bull Riders, and now he is an evangelist — promoting Christianity everywhere he goes, especially rodeos.
“I’m confident the ability is there, so I’m going to keep with it, God willing, though I’m going to continue with ministry,” Madsen said. “Rodeo needs someone to bring them the gospel truth. God’s got me here for a reason, to glorify Him while I am at these rodeos, be a good model hopefully.”
Though Madsen is not alone in praising God in the rodeo world, he is becoming well known enough that he said he received a call from famous bronc rider Cole Elshere to help teach at the July 12-13 “Bares, Broncs, Bulls & Bibles” event in Faith. According to its website, it is “a free two-day rough stock and spiritual clinic to inspire youth ages 14-19 to grow to their full potential.”
“I was called to be a bull riding instructor, but mainly to share the light with students there,” Madsen said. “We teach how to ride rough stock and, more importantly, the gospel and how to resist the temptations that they will run into on the rodeo trail and in life in general.”
A rodeo man all his life — turning 29 on Aug. 13 — Madsen lived through some tough times.
“Part of the power of his story is his background. To communicate Dylan’s story is to get into his past,” Chance Sumner, senior pastor at Pierre’s Community Bible Church, said. “I sense the Lord has some kind of calling on his life. Dylan has tremendous passion and conviction.”
Sumner said Madsen became a Christian, leads Bible studies and married, all since last October.
“Within eight months, he has had a real considerable life change from a dark life,” he said.
When he was three years old, Madsen’s mother was in a car accident that left her quadriplegic in 1995.
“That’s obviously the reason for me growing up at the ranch with my grandparents,” Madsen said. “Growing up being a cowboy was because of my grandpa, Chris Madsen.”
The ranch is about 15 miles north of Presho on the Lower Brule Reservation. Madsen added that he had some contact with his dad while growing up but now spends more time with him.
“He would come to sporting events when I was young,” he said. “We have grown closer over the years. I’ve taken him to bull riding events.”
As part of his baptism testimony, Madsen found that he became caught up in what the world said he needed to be as “the cool kid” or for success as he grew older.
“(T)herefore I was worried all about what people thought of me … I found myself caught up in partying, the lust for fame, girls and money — all the things the world tells you are essential for success,” he said.
A bright point in Madsen’s life is Siera, who he married on October 9 at the CBC church in Pierre with a reception at the Youth Center in Fort Pierre.
“I guess she is thankful of this life change, from a drifter who didn’t plan anything, without a care in the world. Probably drove her nuts. She likes to plan everything,” Madsen said. “It’s been a roller coaster.”
One day, Siera brought a couple of Bibles to their kitchen table.
“We talked about it, and she put it into play. I agreed,” Madsen said. “I read it pretty much in a year, and it opened up to me. With different podcasts and with sermons from different preachers, I understood it more. It opened my eyes. It was slow at first, but she and I are growing in it. My wife and I are both trying to be good witnesses, magnifying God as we live — not as a means of salvation but as a result.”
Siera, originally from Burke, is proud of her husband.
“He’s an all-or-nothing kind of a person,” she said. “He doesn’t do anything halfway. Him becoming a Godly person is awesome. He’s a better man, with the most impact on me and our relationship. It’s nice to have that leadership in our relationship.”
Siera described their life before as more focused on worldly things and themselves — doing whatever they could to get ahead.
“We previously hung out while on the road, going to bars and parties, and hanging out with ‘that’ crowd,” she said. “It seemed every social aspect of our lives involved drinking. Close to a year now, we have made church, fellowship and good relations a priority. It’s very different from life before.”
Siera said Madsen does more evangelist work — focusing on in-person — than she does. She said she does more with her friend groups and social media.
“Dylan does more testimonials, more actual promoting a better life,” Siera said. “He’s more of an outgoing type of person, talking about his life and decisions.”
Madsen planned to be in Big Sky, Montana, from July 22-24 for the PBR event.
“Twenty years since I got on my first bull. Pretty crazy,” Madsen said. “If I’m going to do it, I might as well be at the highest level I can. If something is meant to click, then that is fine.”
He said that in the PBR Bull Riding Challenge in Bismarck, ND, on June 18, he was second in the long round and ended up seventh overall. Rodeo finals are in early December in Las Vegas.
Most rodeos have their own church services on Sunday mornings. “Rodeos are definitely one of the sports that have more avid church services. In rodeo, a lot of the guys believe in God but don’t really know him,” Madsen said.
And Madsen said he wants to bring the gospel truth to the rodeo.
“The truth is the highlighted word there,” he said. “There are people who profess, but they worship Him for what they think He can give them, rather than for who He is — like he is some sort of genie. The other part of that is that a lot of denominations are workspace — you have to be good enough to do this and to do that — no one by their own works or own power can be reconciled to holy God.”
Sometimes Madsen hands out tracts, some in different languages such as Portuguese, because of the large numbers of Brazilian cowboys. Seven different countries are in the PBR.
Madsen mostly talks to other cowboys in the locker rooms and behind the chutes, any chance he can get.
“Being on the road in rodeo, you are around the same temptation you were every day,” he said. “There’s always the ‘bull’ from your buddies that you are fine living this way. I used to never hold back from the drinking and partying. It’s always around. That’s what I mean by being a good witness in that you don’t need that to have a good time.”