To say that Will Rogers is still big in Oklahoma would be an understatement of about 15 feet, judging from the size of his statue in the Will Rogers Archway just outside of Vinita, Oklahoma. He seems almost bigger than the town itself, somehow, though there is actually a surprising amount to see there.
For starters, historic Route 66 runs right through the town, thus necessitating Dana and I taking a picture together under one of the signs marking it. There are several really great antique shops dotting main street, the annual Will Rogers Rodeo arena is there, and there are, of course, the requisite hometown hole-in-the wall cafes that every town should have and every visitor should try.
I can't help but smile, really, as I sit here in the airport in Tulsa writing this and waiting for the plane that will take us home.
Dana and I have spent the last few days here as I have been preaching a revival for Pastor Bobby Cunningham and the Craig County Baptist Church. It is our first time here to Oklahoma, and, I must say, the folks out here are amazingly friendly. We, of course, have spent the daytime hours out exploring the area. We even drove over to Noel, Missouri, to tour the Bluff Dwellers Cave. While nowhere near as grand as Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, or the Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tennessee, it is nonetheless a really remarkable cave worthy of seeing. The main natural hallway may be one of the prettiest you will ever see.
On the way back to Oklahoma, we stopped in Noel at one of those little requisite cafes I mentioned, the Sidewinders Restaurant. If diet is not an issue, try the Loaded Sidewinder Fries. I estimate that it will take at least two weeks off your life, but it is worth it.
I have been blessed for these many years of ministry to travel to 14 countries and 13 states preaching the gospel as well as pastoring my local church. As such, I perhaps have a bit of a different perspective than others on the state of things in America and elsewhere. I am actually cautiously optimistic about the future. And it all has to do with what most people never see rather than what everyone sees on media and social media all too regularly.
On our first morning in Vinita, we went out for breakfast. There was a gentleman sitting nearby who made the effort to strike up a conversation with us and tell us where he went to church. As it turns out, it was the very church I would be preaching in. He did not know us at all but wanted to let us know about God and about his church.
Pastor Cunningham and his sweet family are doing solid work in Vinita. They very clearly love their people, and the people are responding. People are being saved, and the church is growing.
I could tell similar stories of our times in Florida, West Virginia, Iowa, New Mexico, Grenada, Trinidad and so many other places. Scattered out across the world are faithful men and faithful families and solid churches quietly doing a great work for the Lord.
Unless any of these men ever commit some horrible crime or get embroiled in some dark scandal, they will likely never be well known. It is the nature of the media beast to trumpet all of the things that make people gasp rather than any of the things that seem so mundane yet make so much of a difference.
I suppose my point in all of this is the same truth taught in John 13:3-5, which says, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded."
Jesus, the one who very publicly raised the dead, also spent time in the absence of paparazzi, in the quiet confines of an upper room, washing the feet of his men. The very Son of God served them in a way that they would never forget. They themselves then gave their lives serving others.
The fate of a land and even of the world will be determined far less by the decisions of politicians than by the unseen choices of people who will never be known. The world is changed one family at a time as moms and dads wake the kids up on Sunday morning and say, "Time for church; let's go!" The world is changed as those same families meet back together each night, read a few verses of God's Word together, discuss everyone's day and then pray together. The world is changed each time a young man hears the call of God, leaves behind the pursuit of a rich career and gives his life pastoring people in small towns or poor inner cities that dot our landscape.
The world is changed each time church members meet together, gospel tracts in hand, and go out knocking on doors to tell people about Jesus. The world is changed each time a parent steps up to the plate at a school board meeting and politely yet firmly exposes things that no children should ever be taught. The world is changed each time a parent that cannot correct the course of a truly bad school removes their child and home-schools them or sends them to a Christian school. The world is changed each time people forgive, or show kindness, or stand for the truth or practice anonymous generosity.
Here's to changing to world one church, one town, one family, one person at a time.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.