“Do you want to get a Kansas hunting license? Then come on over to The Benton Church for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) hunters education course.” That was the invitation this fall. And what an event it was!
Why would a church allow a hunting course to be taught in the church building? Because hunting is a family activity in our community. It is an excellent way for fathers to build relationships with their sons (yes, mothers and daughters enjoy hunting too). The actual course is taught by KDWPT approved instructors, but local volunteers are needed for a successful event.
Ken Taber saw the need for a local hunter education course. He checked the church calendar for availability, secured permission to hold the event, and arranged for the instructor. Of course he enlisted the support of his wife Kim. Ken’s friends Don Hoover and Todd Crouch were eager to help him in planning and conducting the event. Naturally there were doubters who said no one would attend an event in our small town. Wrong. Our location on a major highway meant easy access, and The Benton Church was glad to promote our location to the outlying communities
One of the disadvantages given for holding the event in Benton was the lack of fast-food restaurants in our town. The closest one is over fifteen minutes away so people would have very little time for lunch on Saturday. However, that was no obstacle for the Tabers. They sought donations for lunch and refreshments. Dustrol in Towanda and Ditchwitch in Wichita provided money for food as did the church and some friends. For the free lunch Saturday, tacos with all the fixings were served. Kim’s mother, Mike Erikson, Laurie Pfeiffer, Barb Crouch, and Aubrey Pirtle helped with cooking and serving food. Snacks and bottled water were available for breaks in the sessions.
Because Ken and Kim wanted people to feel comfortable in the church setting, they made sure class members were greeted in the parking lot and volunteers were available to assist at various times throughout the event. Karsten Reilly, Don Hoover, Curt Ghormley, Jeff Schiesser, Joel Fox, Todd Pfeiffer, and others provided help with technology, security, training assistance, and answering questions. These church members not only provided help for the event, but they witnessed to the people present. It was not an in-your-face witnessing but the very relational, friendly type of conversations which take place each Sunday between services. Some of the people had not been inside a church in many years. The church men could easily talk with these people about hunting and sprinkle in some information about church activities and praise to God. Both the ladies and men who volunteered were skillful at putting people at ease in strange surroundings. Several Benton Church middle school church youth were attending the course. These young men confidently worked to make the visitors in their church feel welcome.
Serving others is natural for Kim. Because she is a teacher, Kim was asked to read the test to a couple of boys who were difficulty with reading. This course was not about reading skill. It was about knowing how to hunt safely. So Kim took the boys to a location where she could read the test to them. The boys were able to demonstrate that they knew the material well.
Over one hundred people were at this event because parents bringing children chose to stay. They saw how our men controlled misbehaviors in a friendly relational manner before the behaviors became a problem. They saw church men and women having a joyful time serving others.
Quite often God works in ways which seem illogical to us. People who seldom, maybe never step inside a church, found being in a church building to be a pleasant experience. This event demonstrated that Christians are relational and caring. It was promoting family activity. God provided an opportunity for the un-churched to have contact with Christians who are not stuffy do-gooders but are real people who love to have fun.
Jesus prayed to God the Father, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15 ESV