By Brian Koonce
LOWRY CITY – What can camouflage do to point someone to Jesus? At the Sportsman’s Extravaganza hosted by First Baptist Church here, quite a bit.
The camouflaging clinic was one of a dozen workshops and demonstrations attended by more than 600 people at the Oct. 8 event. Each booth was manned by a pastor or Christian hunter or fisherman. In the case of the camouflage clinic, Chris Guffey, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Sedalia, used the idea of hiding from game to segue into the idea that no matter what, we cannot hide from God.
“Each workshop had a quiet Gospel flair to it,” said host pastor, Jeff Ferguson. “It wasn’t a full sermon, just a comment.”
The tomahawk forging demonstration talked about how God forms and molds individuals, and a hunting preparedness workshop pointed out how to prepare for eternity.
The headline event was a wild game dinner featuring venison, bison, alligator, ostrich, crappie, catfish, even kangaroo.
“No one really cared for the kangaroo,” Ferguson said. “There’s a reason McDonald’s doesn’t serve it.”
Other than the kangaroo, the response was universally positive.
Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, and past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke during the dinner. In addition to being a major figure in Southern Baptist life, Patterson is an avid hunter. He has 30 African game kills to his credit – including lion, hippopotamus, leopard and water buffalo – and related his big game hunting experiences to issues facing men and boys, before presenting the Gospel.
“Hunters want to be told the straight story, they don’t want to be messed around with,” Ferguson said. “He was very direct with them.”
Fifty men accepted Christ as their Savior during the event, and 15 others expressed an interest to know more.
“One of the most important things we did was to give 150 gift bags to each family as they left,” Ferguson said. “They had a very high quality hunting DVD entitled ‘The Harvest’ by Grace Outfitters of Dallas, Texas. The DVD features footage of several hunts followed by the hunters sharing about their relationship to Christ. We have already heard from a non-churched family who has watched this multiple times already. We also included in the bag a tract entitled ‘Are You On Target?’ and a map to our church with information regarding service times and various church ministries.
“We have our hands full with follow-up,” Ferguson said. “This is far and above the largest thing we’ve ever done as a church. We run 80-100 in Sunday School, so for God to stretch us with an event of this scale was pretty awesome.”
But those 50 salvations made it worth the effort, Ferguson said. And there are more seeds being planted after the fact.
“I just had a man today ask me why we did it, and why we didn’t charge anything or take up an offering,” Ferguson said. “I told him it was just our church’s gift to the community. Salvation is God’s free gift to us, so how could we ask for money?”