Rodeo Week – Opening Night

Team ropers watching a bronc rider on opening day.

Team ropers watching a bronc rider on opening day.

The Livingston Roundup officially began on July 2. “Slack day” contestants had competed in their events on the overflow day and had packed up and left for other rodeos.  The first event for the day was the Livingston Parade. You have never experienced a 4th of July parade until you go to a small town in the west for a parade. In Juneau you could see people walking the route in halibut suits. Nothing like seeing a six foot fish walking the streets. There weren’t any fish in the Livingston parade, but there were firetrucks, antique cars (including the first car in Livingston), and horses. One of the guys working the stock pens with me on Slack day, Phil, had his string of pack mules from his family outfitter/guide business. The parade reveals the centrality of the horse to Montanan culture. In the east a child may grow up playing with the family dog. In the west children grow up on horseback.

Tiffany & sauner Wood watching the parade from the front window of Cornerstone's new location.

Tiffany & Sauner Wood watching the parade from the front window of Cornerstone's new location.

Starting young

Starting young

parade girl

Phil leading his pack train.

Phil leading his pack train.

Phil 2

Thursday morning the workcrew from Spotswood Baptist Church started off their day with the Rodeo grounds clean up.  Then they cleaned out the debris from the renovations. The new facility will open in September after a workcrew/mission team does the interior work needed to turn the building into a church building. However, since the building is on the parade route Paul and Cody wanted the building’s restrooms available. Quite a few people took advantage of the offer including a number of locals who were interested in Cornerstone’s new location.

The rodeo began at 8:00 p.m. The work crew manned the hospitality tent cooking hot dogs and hamburgers for the constestants and their families. Paul did a great job leading a short chapel service for the cowboys. He contrasted the dependability and faithfulness of Christ to the way that others sooner or later fail us, whether it is your horse, roping partner, family, or friends. Later that evening his words were displayed in the team roping event. The announcer introduced a father and son roping team. The father held multiple world champion roper titles and had just begun roping with his son. After the introduction the steer broke from the gate.  Both ropers must rope the steer. The header ropes the horns to turn the steer and then the heeler must rope both legs to get the maximum score and time. It takes the teamwork of the ropers and the horses.The father missed and they were disqualified.  Even world chapions can let you down. By the time the rodeo ended, the hospitality tent cleaned up, and we got back to the house, it was 11:15. The 7:30 a.m. rodeo trash pickup came early the next morning.

Barrel racers watching the competition.

Barrel racers watching the competition.

The International Mission Board uses the term “Unreached people group” to describe a group who share a common language dialect, customs, etc, that  has not been evangelized. Montana Baptist  have identified 200 unreached people groups in the state. They range from cowboys to the various Indian tribes. Ninety-five percent of the population is  unchurched. Some people may think that since cowboys are Americans and look like us they are evangelized. If you think that the cowboy culture is just like yours, spend time at a rodeo. The rodeo competitors and the people of Livingston need the Gospel. The work that the people of Cornerstone are doing is gaining the attention of  the unchurched, but it will take time.

I coined a term, “harsh climate mentality,” a few years ago to describe people who live in places like Montana. People who have settled in harsh climates, whether it is the desert Southwest, Alaska,  New England, or where ever, develop an individuality and self-reliant spirit. When someone moves into the area they wonder how long the person will last. I remember how people would come to Alaska in the summer and talk about how they loved it and their plans to stay. However, once October came with its 40 inches of rain and constant lack of sunshine, they would line up to catch the next ferry south. First Baptist Church, Ketchikan, Alaska, had two pastors serve a total of seventeen months out of a five year period. The church had longer interims than pastors. I have heard people in New Hampshire say to a church planter, “How long are you going to last?”  Because of this mind set, and the fact that it takes time to become known in a community, it takes several years before church planters begin to see their efforts bearing fruit. Cody  and Paul had several “spiritual” conversations this rodeo with people they have known for two years. Hopefully, we will see even greater things happen in the coming years. I for one plan on being in Livingston for next year’s rodeo. After all I have the hat.

Some of my new friends.

Some of my new friends.


2 Responses

  1. Hi Dr. Brown,
    I want to thank you again for your help and support of Cornerstone this past week. I must say I have looked forward each day for your entries on the blog and feel a little of a let down to know you are no longer there. Jimmy and I plan to be in Livingston next year to help with all that goes on so hopefully we will see you then. If you ever have the opportunity to be in Jacksonville, please let us know. We belong to FBCJax and love Dr. Brunson but the church is VERY involved with the IMB but seem to lose site of home missions. If you can ever get his ear, please do so because I think you could be a great influence in helping congregations see that home missions are just as important as reaching people for Christ in distant countries.
    Thanks again for the week you devoted to Livingston, MT!
    Deborah & Jimmy Wood

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