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'Church Rescue' helps the Happy Trails Cowboy Church on NatGeo

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Today’s episode of “Church Rescue” brought the Church Hoppers; Rev Kev, Gladamere and Doc to visit Pastor Don Martin at the Happy Trails Cowboy Church in Glen Rose, Texas.

There are numerous cowboy churches across America, who cater to the cattle and horse ranchers, and they love bull riding as much as they love Jesus. Pastor Don needs some help from the Church Hoppers to rope more members into his church.

As the guys come to the church on a Monday, they question why they are not there on a weekend. They do their surveillance and find the obscure sign for the church, but the announcement sign below has nothing on it. The building has no distinguishing markings to tell if it is a church or something else. Then they found out that the service was supposed to take place in an outdoor corral; which could be another reason why there are very few people in attendance.

Fifteen minutes into the service, there is no organization and as people wait, the pastor is running power cords for the microphones. After 40 minutes, the singing starts and the pastor asks the people with bibles to read along with the gospel of Matthew. When the service concluded, they wanted to canvass the attendees and get their opinions. They seem to like the pastor, but he needs help with the church and is too proud to ask.

Pastor Don called in the Church Hoppers to help him draw in more parishioners because he just does not know how. The church rents out the space from the Saddle Club, and services are held on Monday evenings because the people they are trying to reach do traveling and rodeos on weekends and Pastor Don also travels with rodeos, leading them in prayer before each rodeo starts. But the problem is, Pastor Don travels three months of the year with rodeos, and nobody is there to conduct services when he is away. So they ask him who they can speak to in the area about services. John Kerley is the facilities manager of the Saddle Club and knows all the ins and outs about the area; so Rev Kev went to meet with him. While Rev Kev and John were meeting, Pastor Don took Gladamere and Doc to see the grounds.

While speaking with John, Rev Kev found out that he aspired to preach, but Pastor Don told him no. The Church Hoppers want to find someone to keep the congregation alive while Pastor Don is away at rodeos.

When the three guys went to visit with Pastor Don, he was not receptive at all to their suggestions. When they asked why the facility held only 49 people, when it could be holding so many more, they were told that with just one door, the fire code would only allow for 49. One more door could give them plenty of space for more congregants. When they criticized the rusty refrigerator and unkempt kitchen area, Pastor Don seemed very perturbed and asked if they knew anyone who would donate a new one? They told Pastor Don that he needed help, but he was not very receptive; even though he called them!

As the guys went to have something to eat, they went to a place that had a pool table. As they played, they discussed what needed to be done for the church. They found out that there are plenty of people in the area who could come to the church, but do not. They decided that Pastor Don had trust issues. They had to spruce up the facility and make it more inviting.

The next day, they met with Pastor Don, to try to break through his “my way or the highway” attitude. He told them that Proverbs states there is wisdom in the power of meetings, and he was all ears. They pointed out the sign that needed to be more recognizable; the building had to look more like a church, and the appliances needed to be updated. He told them that people did not return once they were there. When he was challenged about having John Kerley be the assistant preacher, he was adamant that everyone is not called to be a preacher. John 3:16 states that God gave His son for everyone, and all are equal in His eyes. The Church Hoppers were appalled that this pastor was so stubborn, that he would not accept help where it was most needed. It came down to the fact that Pastor Don does not practice what he preaches. He admitted that he preached that his flock should trust others; however, he does not do the same. They finally got him to agree to accept their help and make improvements.

They took Pastor Don to meet with Billy Mauldin. Billy is the founder and pastor of Motor Racing Outreach. Billy reaches hundreds of thousands of people every weekend. Billy explained how he built his ministry by surrounding himself with good help to accomplish everything he wanted to do and spread God’s word.

Pastor Don was taken for a ride in a race car going 180 miles per hour, and had to trust the person driving; just like in his ministry.

They met with John and asked him if he could rally the congregation to refurbish the church, and then to ask Pastor Don if he gave him another chance. After being rejected once before, John was a bit gun shy asking for another chance, but did it anyway. Pastor Don told him no, but would pray about it, and hopefully they could reach an agreement in the future. The Church Hoppers agreed that they would not leave until Pastor Don agreed to let John help.

At the rodeo, when Pastor Don was ready to walk to the podium and lead them in prayer, John Kerley lead the prayer and did an awesome job. Pastor Don was shocked that John was so comfortable preaching to the masses, and it gave Pastor Don some food for thought.

On Sunday, when Pastor Don arrived at the church, it was beautiful and the kitchen was functioning and had new appliances, and walls painted so brightly. When he found out that John was the power behind the changes, he was surprised.

On the first day after the transformation, the congregation was in full force and as the service was about to close, he introduced his top hand, John to the congregation. John was given the microphone by Don and gave a sermon that had Pastor Don in tears.

After three months, the congregation is growing, and with John responsible when Pastor Don is away, the church is running very well thanks to the Church Hoppers; Rev Kev, Gladamere and Doc.

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