STURGIS, S.D. (BP) -- Closer to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally's bar scene and with an extra three-hour nightly shift, Baptist volunteers nearly tripled the professions of faith recorded last year.
The Dakota Baptist Convention-led outreach -- with its popular giveaway of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle -- gave 120 volunteers from at least 20 states and Canada 3,654 opportunities to share three-minute testimonies, up from 2,141 last year, leading to professions of faith by 513 people, up from 178 in 2013.
"It was a wise decision that Garvon [Golden, DBC executive director] had, to move locations," said Buck Hill, the convention's missions director. "It put us deeper into the jungle, into the devil's playground."
This was the ninth year for the intentional evangelism ministry in which "catchers" encourage passers-by to enter an oversized venue to listen to one of the "witnesses" tell about how life changed since the volunteer came to know Jesus Christ personally. The pivotal question: "Has anything like this ever happened to you?"
The reward for listening: a chance to win a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
In previous years, the DBC's evangelism tent was on a corner lot on Main Street across from the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and about four blocks from the center of the bar scene. This year it was indoors, one of several "vendors" under one roof. The others: a tattoo parlor, leather goods sales and the like.
Its location was strategic -- across the street from a liquor store and adjacent to a bowling alley that becomes a party hub when the small town of about 6,600 residents hosts nearly a half-million bikers, wannabes and gawkers for what this year was the 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Less than two blocks from the evangelism venue were two of the biggest drinking establishments in Sturgis.
The majority of the rally activity extends about six blocks down each of three streets in the center of Sturgis.
"Just to show the impact we have, one guy came to us showing a faded and wrinkled playing card that we hand out, with the plan of salvation on one side and a prayer asking Jesus to be the boss of their life," Hill said. "He asked for a new card, saying he prayed that prayer every day, and one of the volunteers asked him if he had ever made the decision to put his life in Jesus' hands. This year he didn't just pray the prayer; he prayed to receive Christ.
"Another guy came in with a worn-out token," Hill continued, referring to a round token about the size of a half-dollar that had Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2011 on one side and two websites on the other for follow up, www.sturgosbikegiveaway and www.whatsnext.com. We haven't given them out for a couple of years. It was so faded from him rubbing it that you could hardly read the words on it anymore. That token was so important to him that he found us in the new location, just to get a fresh one."
The stories ticked off Hill's tongue.
"A guy who got saved early in the week brought his brother back later in the week," the DBC missions leader recounted. "But the best story happened three times. We did a 7-10 p.m. shift this year because we knew we'd be more in the bar scene. One night nothing was happening, and about 10 minutes to 10 I said to Morgan [Medford, Dakota's church planting catalyst], 'Let's wrap it up.' But Morgan said, 'Let's wait a few minutes.'
"At straight-up 10 p.m., three people prayed to receive Christ," Hill said. "The next night, the situation was reversed. ... Read More