With the atmosphere of a small fair, horse rides, food, cold drinks and flavored ice to beat the heat, the Three Lakes Roundup just outside Troy gave local families a no-cost entertainment option Saturday, August 11.
The annual event put on by Three Lakes Community Bible Church off Highway 56 is in its third year at the Troy Horse Arena. Craig Martin, a church member who brings his own horses for the children to ride, said they typically have around 130 show each year.
“You’ve gotta do something. Some people can’t afford to do things that are fun things or family things, so the church, they pay for all of it. Everything here is completely free,” he said.
In addition to Three Lakes members, several members of other local congregations showed up to help out. Todd Rebo said they want to support the work Three Lakes is doing and to see them grow as a congregation.
Just being part of the event has its own reward as well, Steve Batlach said. “The smiles. The smiles and good, honest, clean recreation.”
Some children have never ridden a horse before. Others jump on and want to take off at a gallup, he said.
Martin said he has seen children who didn’t want to get on a horse, by the time they are done, not want to get off.
Saturday was the first time Jaylor Weilacher saddled a horse. It was fun, if a bit intimidating at first, being so close to the big animal as he reached for and adjusted straps, he said.
Gib Stovall said he enjoys the opportunity to introduce children to horses and riding.
“It’s good to think that in the future, there’ll be people riding,” he said. “Times are changing and it’s becoming a lost art in some respects, and a lost opportunity in many.”
Between the horses, activities and free food and drinks, there was plenty to keep children and families entertained, but there was a deeper purpose as well.
“One, and first and foremost, is to get people talking and to bring them to Jesus Christ,” Martin said. “The second goal, hopefully, is people will start attending Three Lakes Church. The third goal is just to bring families together and have a good time, in a nice community outreach.”
“At our church, we’re all about the Gospel, so we did want to have an opportunity to just share the Gospel with people who might otherwise not hear it,” said Pastor Alex Mauck.
But Mauck acknowledged that for an outreach aimed at people who don’t already have a church, that means breaking things down and letting go of even his own assumptions. It made planning a devotional for the roundup a bit more of a challenge.
“Someone might come here and think, ‘Oh, gospel, that’s a kind of music,’” he said. “The Gospel is what the Bible is all about from cover to cover, and it’s how God saves his people from their sins.”
Some who come to the Roundup may not even have a strong concept of who Jesus is, he said.
“So I tried to really make sure to go slow enough and think through, ‘What would all of this sound like if I had never been to a church before?’” he said.
Mauck started pastoring at Three Lakes three years ago, and approached the congregation for ways to connect the church with its community, he said. Someone threw out the roundup idea, and it sounded good, but Mauck told them he might not know the back from the front of a horse.
The congregation had no problem stepping up, he said.
“Whether it’s this or even things that are more behind the scenes — helping folks get firewood, just helping out their neighbors and things like that — it’s a really great group of people out here,” Mauck said of his congregation.
Mauck said they are also appreciative of the assistance that other Christians from the area gave. “The community of believers has just been really encouraging ever since we moved here.”