STOUTLAND – The Laclede Baptist Association camp was the site of the recent “Great Outdoors Day.” The camp accommodated about a thousand people for games, food, drinks and demonstrations of various kinds to celebrate the outdoors and God’s creation Saturday, April 16th.
A horse whispering demonstration, led by James Frazier, of Diamond was viewed by the crowd in the morning. Frazier concluded the demo of taming an unbroken horse with a gospel invitation to receive Christ. Five people made spiritual decisions.
In the afternoon Brad Bennett and his cohorts with Real Encounter ministries demonstrated tricks and stunts on motorcycles and BMX bikes. The highlight that seemed to delight the crowd the most was when Bennett jumped over Steven Strauch, Laclede Baptist Association DOM who was laying flat on the camp playground. Again a gospel invitation was extended and twenty decision were recorded by volunteer counselors.
Strauch said they will be sending the decision cards to area churches for follow up and discipleship.
Along with the stunts and demos there were activities including: farm animal petting zoo, metal detecting, making bracelets, hayrides, blacksmithing, fishing, 4-wheeler exhibits and stunts, face painting and carnival games including inflatable games. Free food and drinks were available for the participants.
Organizer Tony Flores said the entire event was free of charge and the costs of the event were paid for by sponsoring businesses from the Lebanon area.
Door prizes were offered including a drawing for a kayak, donated in part by Tracker Plastics, a Lebanon area boat manufacturer. Two season passes for Silver Dollar City were donated by the Branson amusement park. And Bear Manufacturing donated a boat trailer.
“The entire day was intended to be free for the people of our community” said Strauch. “The prizes given away (throughout the day) as well as the door prizes were donated. We intended it to be a day with no selling, no fees,” he added. Some people made metal home decor at a blacksmith forge set up by Titus 2 Ministries of Rogers, Arkansas.
Flores said four years ago the Lord laid it on his heart to bring this kind of an event to Laclede County when he was invited to a sportsman’s outdoor day in nearby Marshfield. “We didn’t know how we were going to pay for it” he said. “But we started talking to the director of missions and area pastors and planned the first event. That first year we were expecting 250 but over 850 showed up. We fed them chili and had a good time. There were several people saved. Then the second year there were over sixty spiritual decisions of various kinds made.”
“A new thing we tried this year was an overnight youth retreat the evening before” said Strauch. About fifty youth came to the camp for a time of worship and fun and preparation for the activities the next day. When the event was concluded on Saturday afternoon the youth helped put the camp back in order.
“Those teenagers had the whole place cleaned up in about thirty minutes,” Flores said.
Asked how the event was promoted, Flores said the area churches really turned out with not only announcing it and promoting, but brought demos of fun activities from within their membership. “Some people had talents with the church, such as the church that led a metal detecting demo for people to try their hand at that hobby,” he said.
“We let God work wherever He needed to. It was a place where people could invite their friends to. (It became) a starting point for churches to encourage people and invite them to their church, a neutral place,” Flores said.
At his jobsite at Ft. Leonard Wood Army post in a nearby county, Flores was inviting people to the event. He said one man finished up his work that Saturday, drove home, changed clothes and picket up his kids. They went over to Stoutland and took part in the fun, but most importantly, he received Christ as his Savior before the afternoon was over.
“That makes it all worthwhile,” Flores said.
Strauch said it will be an annual event and people are looking forward to it next year.