As a young boy, I developed a love and appreciation for the outdoors on my grandma’s farm. That is where I learned to camp, shoot, fish, build a fire, cook hotdogs over an open ame, and just be outside. I loved exploring, discovering, and escaping from the chaos of my home environment.
My grandmother taught me to enjoy the nighttime sights and sounds – the brightness of the moon, the millions of stars, the symphony of frogs and crickets. Learning to be aware of the dangers of the night was also part of that experience.
As I transitioned into adulthood, I really began to appreciate hunting and shing and retreating from the concrete jungle to the countryside. These days, it’s more about getting away to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors than catching or killing.
Over the years, I have built many relationships while in the woods. I have had amazing and memorable spiritual conversations with teens and adults around a camp fire. And it’s awesome to see the true joy when someone catches their first fish or shoots their first duck.
I love it because I get to use things I’m passionate about that minister to others. I remember sharing the Gospel with Josh after a Saturday-morning duck hunt and him trusting Christ the next day.
My favorite quote from John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart is, “Don’t do what the world needs. Do what you’re passionate about because what the world needs is people of passion.” God has certainly allowed me to merge my passion for people and a love for the outdoors into a ministry environment.
One of my favorite memories is taking a group of grade school boys shing. They were catching fish as fast as we could bait the hooks. It was a great experience for them and it opened communication for me to share the truths of God’s word with them. Some of them are still in ministry today!
Several times a year we take the guys from our church skeet shooting. Those who are experienced like to show off their shooting skill. I stay out of that competition. We almost always have new guys attend and it’s a great way to build relationships.
A few years back I wanted to start an annual Beast Feast. I thought on it for a couple of years before pulling the trigger and inviting a few area churches to attend. I was expecting around a hundred men to show up. We had 250 in attendance and raised $4,000 for Manna. The next year, over 400 attended and we gave away guns, kayaks, gas grills, camping gear, and guy stuff. I don’t even know how many men were saved that year. The place was packed. The next year we divided the event and hosted one on the north side of town and one on the south side of town.
The guys love that environment and there is nothing like hearing men singing praise to Jesus, wearing camo, helping feed kids, and gathering around the word of God. I would have never dreamed the Beast Feast would have grown like it has. It’s an incredible annual event for men and boys. And best of all, God is using something I love to reach others for Jesus!