Keith Smith was amazed at what he saw when he went to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota a few years ago.
“A good friend of mine had been going there for a few years and working with the Dakota Baptist Convention,” he recalled. “They would give away a brand-new Harley, and thousands of people came through their doors.”
To get their name in a drawing, visitors agreed to listen to a volunteer’s three-minute testimony about their faith in Jesus Christ, and Smith saw the kind of fruit the experience produced.
“The numbers of salvations were in the thousands,” he recounted.
After the event, as he rode his motorcycle back home to West Virginia, he said God put an idea in his head.
“It was, ‘You can do this in Gilbert,’” Smith recalled, referring to National TrailFest, an off-road event held each October in Gilbert, West Virginia. “I thought, ‘Lord, are You sure You’re talking to the right guy?’”
‘Wrapped around your testimony’
For years Smith had been part of the Christian Motorcyclists Association.
“We had been going to different rallies and events to try to minister to the bikers and the riders in whatever way we could,” he related. “We had been going to Gilbert for probably 10 years.”
The town of about 500 swells to some 5,000 the weekend of the festival. Smith knew from experience there were a lot of people who needed to hear the type of gospel presentation he’d seen at Sturgis.
“It’s wrapped around your testimony,” he said of the outreach model. “It’s patterned after the Apostle Paul — how he was before he met Christ, how he met Christ and how his life was after he met Christ.
“They share the gospel with that. It’s nothing new, but it’s powerful and effective.”
Pair it with a big giveaway, and it gets people sitting in seats ready to listen, Smith said.
So that’s what he needed to nail down first — something to give away.
Because of his CMA contacts, Smith had a relationship with Eddie Keefer, owner of Keefer’s Powersports.
“He made a recommendation, and we bought [an all-terrain vehicle] from him,” Smith said about their first event in 2019.
Keefer also put together a youth package at his own expense for people under the age of 18, Smith noted.
“For the past three years the Keefers have sold us the ATV and have given us the youth package.”
Smith’s church, Abundant Hope Baptist in Barboursville, West Virginia, has been a supporter of the ministry, with a bank account set up for donations for the ATV.
This year the ministry gave away a Polaris Sportsman.
31 decisions for Christ
God has continued to provide connections to help make the event possible, Smith said. Since there aren’t a lot of places to stay in Gilbert, he and fellow CMA members have forged a relationship over the years with Horsepen Baptist Church, sleeping and showering in their facilities.
As Smith transitioned into the ATV giveaway outreach, the church became an even stronger partner, asking him to train its members in the evangelism technique so they could be an active part.
This year, 21 volunteers from eight churches gathered to help out at TrailFest. They saw 441 people come through the tent, with 31 first-time professions of faith in Christ. As people make decisions, volunteers give away Bibles and Bible reading plans, and work to connect them with churches in their local areas for follow-up.
“It’s really great to be a part of this,” Smith said.
He has a new nickname now that he wouldn’t have foreseen several years ago — the ATV guy.
“I’m only doing what I truly believe He called me to do,” Smith said. “Not only did He call me to do this in Gilbert, He has also equipped me. He has just smoothed the way and opened doors. I’ve never seen anything like it.”