Not many people can say they have ridden a motorcycle for Jesus, let alone performed death-defying stunts in front of thousands and on international television to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, those involved with the Missouri Baptist Convention’s LIFE Outreach initiative can say just that.
It was those same kinds of stunts — the motorcycles, BMX bikes, and skateboards — that the crowd of more than 1,400 in Chillicothe witnessed Sept. 28 in full force. However, this wasn’t your average stunt show.
It was more than that.
It was an opportunity for those with LIFE Outreach, working with Real Encounter, to proclaim the gospel to those who have never heard it before.
What is LIFE Outreach?
Brad Bennett, MBC making disciples director as well as president and founder of Real Encounter, says, “LIFE Outreach is a holistic and comprehensive disciple-making program that exists to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.”
While the motorcycles, BMX bikes and skateboards make for an exciting show, not every LIFE Outreach event necessarily involves stunts of this kind. Bennett insists that LIFE Outreach is “not just some flash-in-the-pan evangelism event.” Rather, the four-day program serves as an avenue to equip followers of Christ to share their faith with others and make faithful disciples of Jesus throughout their lives.
‘Foundations of evangelism’
The event begins on Sunday when either Bennett or someone else from the MBC team meets with several local congregations to train and equip local believers in what it means to be an active and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.
This is what took place, Sept. 25, at First Baptist Church Chillicothe:
Multiple congregations listened as Bennett shared the good news of Jesus Christ and explained the importance of being his disciples, as well as disciple-makers. “As Matthew 28:19-20 makes clear,” says Bennett, “followers of Jesus are called to actively be making disciples for his name.”
“On Sunday night, participants were taught the foundations of biblical evangelism, as well as how to be effective disciple-makers,” said Rob Hurtgen, the senior pastor at First Baptist.
From Monday through Wednesday afternoon, Bennett and the LIFE Outreach team performed multiple smaller stunts for local middle school and high school students. “This is to give them a small taste of what’s to come on Wednesday night,” Bennett said.
During those three days, Bennett and his team were able to perform at four different high schools, with each show lasting around 45 minutes.
Hurtgen explained the importance of these smaller shows: “The folks in this area speak the language of the attraction. They love the danger, the stunts, and the cool motorcycles. It’s something they’re able to relate to.”
Expecting God to work
It was during these three days that the LIFE Outreach team was able to reach the wider Chillicothe community. Bennett attributes these events to the large crowd on Wednesday night.
The doors opened at 6 pm and, within minutes, people could feel the excitement in the air, Hurtgen said. The local high school gymnasium was packed with those who were ready to watch, up close and personal, the dangerous stunts the night had in store. At 6:30 the show began. The audience was captivated by the stunts put on by Real Encounter — from wheelies to jumping over several from the crowd.
However, the show didn’t stop with mere stunts.
Bennett soon took the stage and shared both his testimony and the gospel with those in the audience. It was at this point Hurtgen explained, “We were expecting God to do something!”
When Bennett allowed people to respond, more than a third of the audience raised their hands!
Out of that original third, 140 people decided to seek more information about Jesus, and 81 people proclaimed a desire to follow Christ that evening.
Hurtgen noted, “We now have the joy to follow up with these people!”
Moving forward, members from First Baptist Church, Chillicothe, as well as the other churches in the area, will be seeking to strengthen and encourage those who decided to follow the Lord that night.
While the events have ended in Chillicothe, the LIFE Outreach team will continue to perform in both Missouri and the wider United States to continue reaching others with the good news of Jesus Christ (motorcycles and all).