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From the church to the rodeocomment (0)

November 6, 2003

By Betty Baggott

Will I ever find Fairhope, Ala.?” I asked myself. The directions were all written out for me, but after going through what seemed like 30 towns, I doubted myself. I had my hand on the button to call “On Star.” Then I saw Fairhope’s welcome sign.

I’ve traveled to Mobile too many times to mention and not once had I taken the time to visit what I have decided is one of the most charming towns to be found anywhere — Fairhope.

When I found First Baptist Church, I was in for another surprise. Not only was the church plant one of beauty but soon I would spend some time with ladies who seemed to have hearts turned toward knowing more of God. If people pray and plan, the results will be there.

The group that planned the event had worked hard. The banquet was planned by the women’s ministry of the church. My job for the night was to motivate them to “higher things.”

Somebody tell me why I chose the title “How to Be a Stress-free Woman.” By the time I found Fairhope, I was all stressed out. But it did not take long to feel like I had always belonged there. The atmosphere of friendliness in a church depends so much on the pastor and wife.

No wonder the people at First Baptist are so friendly. Jerry and Susan Henry lead the way. They are friends from way back. It is a joy to see what God is doing in their lives and in that church.

My good friend Jolene Ivey lives near Fairhope in Silverhill. What a joy to spend the night with her. She is very much in demand as a speaker, Bible teacher and retreat leader. We talked about her schedule, and it made my heart beat faster. I asked her if I might give you her name and address. As a speaker, they don’t come any better. Her address is Jolene Ivey, 15141 Julieann Lane, Silverhill, AL 36576-3333. Her phone number is 251-945-1712.

Before I left the next morning, we had a prayer time together. It is good to have friends with whom you can pray. Jolene is a woman of courage and strength.

Sammy Gilbreath, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) evangelism director, preached his heart out. His sermon was “Coloring Outside the Lines.” The place was Golden Acres Baptist Church, Phenix City. The occasion was a banquet and worship service centered around the Much More Ministries headed by Fred Woodall and his wife, Jean. This ministry is now under the umbrella of Golden Acres.

Fred is a rodeo chaplain and travels hundreds of miles to minister to anyone connected with rodeos. Likewise, Gilbreath in his own way touches the hearts of cowboys. Reading one of the tracts distributed by the SBOM evangelism office, my heart was touched. The words read: “Remember when you fail in life your only hope is Jesus Christ, Someone who was ‘More than a Man.’”

Another card pictures a cowboy on a horse. At the bottom the words read: “Welcome Jesus Christ into your heart. Accept and receive Him as your Savior and you can ride the trails of life with peace.” These tracts are part of the Alabama Equestrian Ministry.

Like Fred Woodall, Gilbreath ventures to the rodeo sites and participates.

The night was quite a different experience, and I loved it. My part was to bring a testimony. It was an honor to be there and to meet the new pastor of Golden Acres, Ray Cummings.

God is so good and, my, how He is a God of variety.

Women’s ministries in Fairhope allow women to use the gifts they have. There are also men like Gilbreath and Woodall who think nothing of getting on a horse or a bull if it will further the kingdom of God.

Diversity of gifts. We all have them, and He uses each one of us in His own way. I offered to teach a Bible study for the “cowgirls.” I hope somebody takes me up on it. About riding a horse or a bull — I am not sure about that. Perhaps one of you have that gift, and I will pray for you.

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