Joe Robinson discovered the impact of an outreach ministry when he became a volunteer at the annual Wild Game Dinner at Grace Baptist Church more than three years ago.
Robinson was back for a third time when more than 150 volunteers from the church helped feed more than 1,000 attendees during the eighth annual event Monday at the church. Despite a steady rain that hovered over the region, visitors flocked to the church to enjoy a menu that featured wild game selections from dove bites to burgoo and deer chili.
“It attracts a lot of men,” Robinson said. “They get to do something they enjoy and we get to tell them the gospel message and feed them a good meal.”
Even though the rain continued for most of the evening, it didn’t dampen the spirit of the attendees or church volunteers.
“It just keeps going,” Grace Baptist Church pastor Pat Finley said. “We have to do it outside (in an outdoor setting) but it is what it is. Once you get under the tent, it’s OK.”
Finley said the event draws visitors from the community and surrounding areas on a yearly basis.
“We enjoy doing it,” he said. “I think everybody enjoys coming. We look forward to it every year and our guys put a lot of work into it. We really enjoy being able to give back to the community.”
Finley said the dinner, which includes a gospel singing and guest speaker, has exceeded his own expectations.
“The past couple of years, we’ve had about 1500 people that came from our community,” he said. “With the rain, it might be a little less than that (this year) but either way, we’re happy and we look forward to it.”
The church views the event as “purely a ministry” that works two-fold.
“It’s blesses us as much as it blesses them,” said church member Rob Miller, who has been part of the event for eight years.
Finley said the outreach gives his church a chance to minister on a different stage other than the traditional church setting. He said the events are “becoming really popular all over the United States.”
“We have a lot of people who come to this event that it would be difficult to get to a church revival event,” he said. “They come and we are able to sit down and minister to them and give them the gospel. In our area, it’s one of the events that we have taken on and it’s grown a lot larger than we ever dreamed of.
“The wild game events, sportsmen banquets or whatever you want to call them, have been successful in reaching a lot of people for Christ. We started about eight years ago with about 200 guys in an auditorium and we were pleasantly surprised and pleased with that, but for the next four years it just kept doubling.”
Contact Keith Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.