During the slowdown of the past three years and COVID-19, Brother Bubba, who pastors Sour Apple Baptist Church, in Winston County is out of work and seeking a job. The attendance had dropped off considerably, and the tithes and offerings had dried up. Brother Rufus, the head deacon, had broken the news to Brother Bubba of his dismissal after the Sunday message.

Billy Joe had gotten word to Brother Bubba that there might be an opening down at the zoo. So, bright and early on Monday morning, Brother Bubba went down to the employment office to put in his application. Sally Sue, a member of the congregation of the small country church, was the receptionist doing the interviewing that morning.

“Come in and have a seat, Brother Bubba,” she said. “What can we do for you today?”

Brother Bubba replied with his story.

“Well, Sally Sue,” he said. “They let me go yesterday at the church, and I need a job. Even a part-time job will do until I can find something permanent. I’ll be living at the pastor’s home until I can find something outside of pastoring.”

Sally Sue began to look for employment for the out of work pastor.

“Let me go through my sources,” she said.

Things were tough in the shadow of the virus, and chances for employment were almost none.

“I don’t have a thing for you, Pastor,” she replied. “However, you said that Billy Joe said they might need some help over at the zoo. I’m going to send you over there. You give the zookeeper this card and tell him I sent you.”

After locating the keeper and explaining the situation he was in, Brother Bubba waited for a reply from the zookeeper.

“Well preacher, I don’t know if you can fill this position or not, but we’ll give it a try,” the zookeeper said. “You see, our chimp has died, and we need a replacement until our new one comes it. I have a very realistic costume. You would have to wear it and crawl into the cage and act like an ape. Are you interested?”

Brother Bubba agreed. Every day for the next three months, he climbed into the chimp costume. He got into the cage and played with the creature’s toys. He was the best chimp the zoo had ever seen. The kids loved him. They fed him popcorn and candy. They rubbed his ears and tickled his nose.

Attendance at the zoo grew, especially around the monkey cage. He started climbing trees and swinging from tree to tree. He had gotten bored with just sitting around, and the extra activities gave him plenty of exercise. One day, he swung so far and so high that he went over the fence and landed in the lion’s den.

When the lion ran toward him, the ape man tried to yell for help, but all that came out was a high-pitched scream.

Then the lion stood over him, and the ape man heard him speak very softly to him.

“Be quiet, or we’ll both lose our jobs,” the lion said. “You’re not the only Baptist preacher out of work.”

JAMES RUTLEDGE is from Amory. 

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