A cowboy evangelist strummed his guitar and sang about a loving Lord in a livestock sale arena Sunday at the Oklahoma State Fair.
There amid the hustle and bustle of the livestock barns and just a stroll away from the midway, Steve Womack held a Cowboy Church service with plenty of country flair and Midwestern charm.
Womack, 58, said the Cowboys for Christ service was open to all who found themselves at the fair on a sunny Sunday morning.
“We go to livestock fairs, livestock shows and rodeos,” Womack told the crowd of about 50 people gathered.
“It doesn't matter whether you're into cattle, sheep or chickens — we're bringing the gospel to you.”
Womack, who lives in Noble, said he gave his life to the Lord in 1974. He said he soon felt called to be an evangelist, but he didn't think that he would have many opportunities to preach to the rodeo crowd he hung out with. He said a year later, he found a cowboy ministry and he's been traveling and preaching at different livestock events ever since.
“I feel lucky that He let me stay with the people I loved ‘cause back in those days, they would have laughed you out of there if you mentioned church,” he said of his former rodeo crowd.
“It was a lot rougher then, but now it's more common and there are a lot of cowboy ministries out there.”
Womack said he has been holding Cowboy Church at the fair since 1992 when the event spanned more than two weeks and included three Sundays.
He said most of the people who show up for the service are “repeat customers” who previously enjoyed the mix of singing and sermonettes. He said others “just stumble up on us.
“We started out for people showing their livestock and they were up here for a week or two away from their church home. Now, we tell everybody that anyone can come — You don't have to have a cowboy hat and boots to come. It's come-as-you-are.”
Womack sang a medley of gospel favorites like “God's Not Dead” and “Jesus on the Mainline,” before delivering a short sermon about living a life for Christ “in the dash” — the time period between one's birth date and one's death.
The Lord, he told the crowd, wanted to connect with them right there at the fair.
“If you've got things in that dash that are wrong and sinful, you can change that dash this morning but that choice is yours today,” Womack said. “Some people think you have to be in a church with four walls and a steeple to come to Jesus, but that's not true. Jesus comes you wherever you're at. He'll meet you right here in this sale ring at the State Fair of Oklahoma.”
Tarisa LeBlanc, of Oklahoma City, sat in the stands listening as Womack gave the altar call.
She said she attended Cowboy Church at the fair several years ago and enjoyed it so much that she made a special trip to attend Sunday's service.
“I'd been looking forward to it,” she said.
James Barnett, of Sherman, Texas, said he also made a point to attend the service. He said he quit going to the Texas State Fair in Dallas “because it's not country enough.
“When you're at a fair, you get so involved in everything that you don't have time to pray,” Barnett said. “It's just an honor to hear a cowboy preacher.”
If you go
What: Cowboy Church.
When: 9:30 a.m., Sept. 25.
Where: Oklahoma State Fair, livestock sale arena west of Barn 4 Barnyard Birthing Center.