Real Encounter sees 1,300 souls saved in ’05
By Allen Palmeri
February 7, 2006
SPRINGFIELD – The partnership between the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and Real Encounter Outreach continued to bear fruit in 2005 as 1,300 new Christ followers from Missouri were reported as a result of God working in various crusades designed to reach middle school and high school students.
Real Encounter utilizes motorcycle jumping, flat-land motorcycle tricks and skateboard artistry to appeal to young people, creating a climate where Evangelist Brad Bennett of Springfield preaches the Gospel.
Bennett, a former professional motocross racer who spent his first full year retired from jumping in 2005, said he is amazed by how God continues to convert adults at Real Encounter meetings.
“We had an 82-year-old lady receive Christ,” Bennett said. “We’ve seen principals saved, we seen policemen doing security saved. Every year, God’s expanding our territory.”
Bennett, 39, works with Tim Wilson, 22, of Springfield, who handles the spectacular motorcycle jumps, and Brett Moser, 24, of Springfield, who specializes in flat-land freestyle skateboarding.
“Once Tim makes a big leap over a 70-foot gap, then I’m on the ground, and I’ve got a microphone and I kind of emcee the whole exhibition, and I’m flying around on the bike, doing nose wheelies, and it gives him time to go back around and get lined up to jump again,” Bennett said.
Bennett has built a reputation as an evangelist who will strongly connect with a lead church in a rural Missouri town and network within that community to the point where the locals start talking about a “happening.” Assemblies in the local school system that are meant to promote positive character development add to the Real Encounter mystique.
“I’ve prayed about it, and I feel a very distinct call to rural communities,” Bennett said. “I feel like in the rural communities, they don’t get a lot of things that the big communities do. It seems like the results are better when we stay in rural communities than when we go to bigger cities.”
Bennett still has fun doing “bunny hops” with the motorcycle over prominent people who lie prone on the ground. A typical “victim” in these settings might be the hometown principal or someone like MBC Executive Director David Clippard.
“My first calling is to preach the Gospel,” Bennett said. “The motorcycle comes second. Does God have to have a motorcycle to reach people with the Gospel? Absolutely not. But He’s chosen to do it in our case.”
Nationally, Real Encounter presented the Gospel to more than 40,000 students in 2005, including more than 17,200 in Missouri. A total of 3,189 people reported that they became Christians.