Crossroads Baptist Launches God’s Great Outdoors Ministries
A glow of orange danced off the pine trees as the campfire from the evening before was rekindled. Young hunters began to pile around the circle of heat at 4:30 a.m., way before the first turkey would ever gobble.
“I’ve been up since 3 o’clock,” said Chris Kitchens, 13, of Eatonton. “I’m just so excited.”
Chris was one of 14 kids who participated in Crossroads Baptist Church’s Youth Turkey Hunt on Saturday, March 21, 2009. The hunt kicked-off Crossroad’s new outdoor-ministry program, God’s Great Outdoors Ministries. The ministry targets youth and allows Crossroads, located just east of Eatonton, to share the Gospel, while using hunting and fishing as a platform to do it.
“We’re looking for God to really do wonderful things through this ministry,” said Pastor John McMillian Jr. “We’ve already seen His hand at work through this Youth Turkey Hunt.”
Chris was hunting with guide Neil Tingler of Godfrey. Just after daylight on Saturday morning, a turkey walked right into shotgun range for Chris. The jake was Chris’ first turkey.
“We need more events just like this,” Neil said.
Kids, parents and Crossroads members camped out at B.F. Grant WMA for the weekend.
Friday evening kids listened to Wildlife Resources Division Law Enforcement officer Bubba Lynn Stanford discuss turkey-hunting safety tips.
Then, Tommy Walton with Tom Teasers turkey calls entertained kids with some turkey talk from his custom-made turkey calls. Afterward, he handed out calls to all the kids.
Crossroads Associate Pastor Scott Doster ended the evening sharing parts of his testimony in an effort to introduce kids to Christ.
“It was great,” said Pastor John. “What a great place to share a testimony, to teach the Gospel. So many kids enjoy hunting, fishing and camping out. What we’re learning is that a lot of kids who have these interests aren’t in church. Some have never heard the Gospel. Others have heard the Gospel but don’t have Christ in their lives. It’s our job as Christians to share the Gospel, the message of salvation.”
The next morning, Payne Davis, 15, of Eatonton, was paired with turkey-guide Bobby Knight, also of Eatonton. The two didn’t hear a bird a daylight, but pre-season scouting told Bobby birds were in the area. About mid-morning they called up a flock of jakes, and Payne connected on his first turkey.
In all, six turkeys were killed, and four of those birds were taken from B.F. Grant WMA.
Maggie Thomas, 16, of Clarkesville, Devereaux Jarrett, 17, and Andy Wooten, 16, both from Eatonton, also killed their first turkeys. They were guided by Jody Hawk, Donald Jarrett and Drew McRay, respectively.
John Perry Humphries, 7, was hunting with his dad, Bill, when they rolled a bird.
“Fourteen kids hunting and six birds taken, with four from a WMA, that just doesn’t happen,” said local turkey hunter Donald Jarrett, who participated as a guide. “There’s no doubt God had his hand all over this event. He’s rewarding Crossroads for being obedient, for carrying forward with His plans in the ministry.”
Another avenue God is using in God’s Great Outdoors Ministries program is that it’s another facet for Crossroads kids to grow in their walks with Christ.
“This outdoor ministry is not just for youth who don’t have Christ in their lives,” said John. “We’ve got to take care of God’s kids, those who already have Jesus in their hearts. These kids need a platform to grow on. It’s our job to make sure they mature into young, Christian adults and be prepared to go into this world and share the message of Christ. Outdoor events like the turkey hunt energized our youth. Events like this help them share the Gospel with other kids who need to hear it.”
Kids who were present at the event’s three campfire devotionals, and were at Crossroads for the 10 a.m. Sunday service, were entered into a drawing for a Remington 12-gauge turkey gun. Nine kids qualified for the drawing, and Maggie Thomas won.
God’s Great Outdoors Ministries has several future events in the planning stages. They’re looking at several fishing opportunities, along with hosting a youth deer hunt in the fall.
“There are plenty of areas to serve,” said John. “We’re going to need landowners and hunting-club members who are willing to help us with this ministry and let a child and their parent hunt.”
More information on God’s Great Outdoors Ministries will be available after April 1 on Crossroads website, <www.crossroads-baptist.org>. You can also call the Crossroads church office in Eatonton at (706) 485-0059 or e-mail <[email protected]>.
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