'Men's Game Banquet': Seminary aims for souls
In "Hunting the Most Dangerous Game," one portion of the tract by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's president reads:
"My 500 Nitro Express double rifle was already on my shoulder, safety off, ready for instant response. When the charge came, time stood still. A flurry of action and this magnificent lioness lay at my feet. When I reached over to touch her, my heart broke into a race like a quarter horse breaking from the chute."
In addition to the lioness, Patterson's years of hunting experience encompass such unique harvests as two other members of the "big five game" in Africa: a cape buffalo and a leopard.
Patterson's passion for hunting has given him some unusual ministry opportunities. Among the most fruitful: speaking engagements at wild game banquets across the United States. Combined with Patterson's zeal for evangelism, the banquets have seen thousands of men and young boys who otherwise would never grace the doors of a church surrender their lives to Christ.
Southwestern Seminary will host one of these banquets -- the "Men's Game Banquet" -- to attract men from the Dallas/Fort Worth area through the sport of hunting and present to them the Good News of Jesus Christ. Patterson will be one of the featured speakers at the Feb. 20 free event.
"This is about nothing in the world but reaching lost men for Christ," Patterson said. "We have discovered that, in those banquets where we've had 2,000-2,500 people present, invariably we will have 300-400 who make professions of faith.
"The problem we have in the church today is we are not getting lost people there. This kind of banquet is not the only way to do it, but it is one way," Patterson said.
Kyle Walker, dean of students at Southwestern and one of the organizers of the Men's Game Banquet, said sportsmen's banquets are among the most effective means for reaching lost men with the Gospel, as they connect to interests that many of them have: hunting, guns and the outdoors. This will be the first game banquet hosted on Southwestern's campus, and local churches have the opportunity to help sponsor the event and bring the lost from their communities.
In addition to Patterson's presentation, the event will include a "wild game cooking contest," giveaways and a presentation by David Morris, president of Tecomate, producer of wildlife food management systems to help sportsmen enhance their recreational property.
"There are a lot of men and boys out there who will never come to your church for church service," Patterson said. "But you can get them to come hear some guy who puts his life in jeopardy on a regular basis to go out where the big ones prowl, and he's going to tell them how to stay alive hunting dangerous game.
"Many of them never intend to put themselves in that kind of situation," Patterson said with a laugh, "but they are curious about an idiot who will do that. So they will come and they will hear the message."
To learn more about the Men's Game Banquet, visit swbts.edu/hunt.