Okay, Sunday March 29 was Cooperative Program Sunday in San Bois Association in eastern Oklahoma. Three times a year our state convention staff goes to a partnering association and makes presentations about the Cooperative Program. Yesterday's trip to eastern Oklahoma was a catastrophe in the making for me.
First, I'm going to Blunt, Oklahoma. That is 3 1/2 hours from my house. I have to leave the house by 7:00 am in order to make it early enough for the worship service at Blunt Baptist Church. Blunt does not show up on any maps and Google has no clue where Blunt is, but it does recognize Blunt Baptist Church and I get my directions to the church.
I leave and after having some twitter fun with some other specialist from the convention (I'm sure we were all pulling off the road to do our texting), I reach exit 303. We had some snow the day before. Here's where pictures really are worth a thousand words.
Snow near Okemah, OK from the previous day's storm.
After I take exit 303, I find myself on a country lane road (Dwight Mission Road). Google said it was right, so I took it.
Is that "Dueling Banjos" I hear in the background?
Google is working incredibly, until I come to this… a dirt road. Except it is now a muddy road. Still, it is fitting exactly what Google says to do. Soo….
You gotta be kidding me!
Finally, I arrive at the church, and believe it or not, the route has matched Google almost perfectly. The key word here is "almost". Here is the church facility. Yes, it's sheet metal with a gravel lot and there are 10-12 cars. I check my watch, it's 10:20. Perfect! I start walking up to the building and I hear singing. But the worship service doesn't start until 10:45. I'm a little confused when I open the door and every head in the room turns and looks at me. And they don't look happy! I swear I recognize one of the guys from Deliverance! I back out slowly and then haul it out of there.
I stop at a "convenience" store and ask for directions to Blunt Baptist Church. As I get the directions, I breathe a sigh of relief. My first stop was NOT Blunt Baptist Church! But here are my directions: "Go into town and make the turn. Go on up the hill and then take a loop around the water tower. The church is on the right about a mile on down" No… I'm not kidding you.
I follow the directions, take a "loop" around the water tower and go like two miles down the road. One Landmark Pentecostal Church, a Freewill Baptist Church, and a Holiness Church – no Blunt Baptist! I go back into town for more directions from another person. "Go up the hill, take a loop around the water tower (no kidding, he said "loop" too), and then go past the lake a few miles. You can't miss it!"
Following my new instructions and getting nervous about the time, I take off. Up the hill… Loop the water tower… pass the lake, and yes! There it is! Blunt Baptist Church on the right. And here is what I see…
ummm… Do you see any cars?
No? Me neither!
I walk up to the building anyway. Pull on the door. Locked! I called these people this week… they're expecting me. By this time I'm feeling pretty carnal. My blood is boiling. I just drove almost 4 hours, and they no-show me. Wait, this must be a joke. I look for Dr. Jordan and the video crew. I must be on Candid Camera. You can't make this stuff up. I'm being pranked for sure! How did Dr. J get Google to lie to me about the directions!?
Seeing no one, I am thoroughly disgusted by now. I passed mad a long time ago. Seething is an understatement. Since I'm not sure I can find my way back to I-40 going back the way I came, I figure I will keep going down this highway and see where it goes and find my way to the interstate.
When, no kidding, I drive about 1/2 mile and there is Blunt Baptist Church, in a brand new building, with cars in the parking lot. Yes… cars. It's 10:45.
And two deacons are standing under the drive-through with their thumbs hooked into their belt loops. "You the guest speaker?" Duhhh…
The service is already underway. I walk in and get wired up. During the welcome a couple of Sunday School teachers I've had in my seminars come up and we get reacquainted. As I tell the congregation my story, they get a big blast out of it. Then I tell them about the Cooperative Program. It's good. They're listening. And once again, even though I often wish I didn't have to do "CP Sunday", I walk away with new friends. But better yet, I get to experience church in a different way. It's homey, but it's real. There are maybe 80 people there, with 17 teenagers in the choir. There are Anglos, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans in the congregation. It is not an elderly congregation. There is a good balance of ages present. Lots of young adults. They are sweet people. I'm beginning to think that a lot of churches in the City that want to be "mosaic" ought to come check Blunt out!
Then, an elderly lady (70+) steps up to the microphone during the invitation and cries. She went as a trip sponsor with the youth group and had the time of her life. The kids come up and stand by her and hug her as she struggles through what she has to say. One of the youth girls teases this lady playfully because her hair is too short for her to "head-bang" during the concert. Other people call out from the congregation and encourage her. People start sharing other prayer requests. We have prayer, and people come up to me and ask me to pray for a son with leukemia, a mom whose daughter who has gone to school in the "City" and mom is nervous, and the church needs a pastor. A gentleman walks up to me and asks me for help. The youth group has "voted" and they want to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica and do I know anyone who could help them make some contacts. I give him the name of a friend at the IMB, and as I turn I am reminded… It really is a cooperative partnership isn't it? Yeah, that's how I roll…