MY316 is traveling. And not only on wheels, but on four legs.
The MY316 car was introduced to Oklahoma Baptists at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in Shawnee in November. It will be traveling across the state promoting the witnessing program, which combines probably the most well-known Bible verse, John 3:16, with a person’s testimony of meeting Christ.
And now, thanks to the ingenuity of some cattle ranchers, that message is going to be carried throughout Oklahoma, and beyond the state’s borders by a bunch of branded cattle.
“We were trying to think of a way to get MY316 out to the western culture,” said George Toma, coordinator of the Oklahoma Fellowship of Cowboy Churches and pastor of Red River Valley Cowboy Church in Albany. “In the western United States, ranches get together to brand cattle. It’s big community thing.”
So, last November, five ranches in the Bryan County area participated in the first MY316 cowboy style calf branding.
The calves were roped, drug to the fire and branded with MY316.
“We explained the significance of MY316 and the role these calves will play,” said Toma. “The men and women who participated showed their excitement when they heard the story of MY 316 and the impact it will have in this area and throughout the country.”
Toma said there were a couple of people at the branding who didn’t know anything about MY316, but came anyway, and are now attending the cowboy church.
He said the calves will go to wheat fields, feed lots and be shipped to different areas.
“The ranchers taking care of the cattle are going to see the brand and shippers are going to see it,” Toma explained. “We also put the brand on a bunch of stock cattle that are used for ropings. They will go to different team ropings and be used throughout the year.”
When people see the brand, they are going to start asking questions, Toma said. He said cattle buyers always look at the brand and there are others who have interest in the brands.
“It tells ownership of the cattle and what part of the country they come from,” Toma said. “People just like to look and see what kind of brand it is. It’s like art work to some people.”
Toma said, while a lot of people will have no idea what the MY316 brand means, they will ask, and “hopefully God will have someone in place to explain it.
“I really believe God’s not going to lead you to something without seeing you through it,” Toma said. “God’s going to have people in place who are going to say ‘I know what that is.’”
And, he said, even if there is no one there at the time to explain, it will be in the back of the minds of those who saw it.
“They may not know what MY316 is, but chances are they know what John 3:16 is,” he said.
Toma explained that the cowboy church is spreading throughout the United States and especially Oklahoma.
“We’ve started 28 churches in Oklahoma, and about 25 are active,” Toma revealed. “We’re going to spread this information to all the cowboy churches that we are doing this.”
About 50-60 calves were involved in the first branding, and one rancher is now buying cows that are bred and the expected 200 calves will be branded with MY316.
“We’re going to try and expand to as many places as we can,” said Toma. “We just need some help. I believe with funding, we could repeat this throughout the state to significantly impact the western culture.”
Tim Gentry, BGCO evangelism group specialist, said the MY316 Road Trip will make several stops at team roping, ranch rodeos and ranch play days highlighting the evangelism ministries of cowboy churches.
“These outreach ministries, along with servant evangelism projects of vaccination clinics, fence fixin’ and sortin’ cows are great ways for congregations to reach across cultural lines with the Gospel,” said Gentry. “The MY316 brand is a great witnessing tool both in its gospel symbol and in its use of identifying the owner of the subject branded.”