CORPUS CHRISTI—Heath Peloquin, pastor of Brighton Park Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, desired to see the Holy Spirit move among his congregation and community. To that end, he prayed the Lord would lead him in a mission that would change his life and the lives of thousands of others.
The result: “Life on the Bay Expo,” an evangelistic outreach that involved over 3,500 people and led to 136 souls finding the saving grace of Jesus Christ during a men’s dinner, outdoor games, hunting and fishing attractions, food, and entertainment.
Jay Lowder of Harvest Ministries was the evangelist at the event in spring 2008 that is still reaping results, Peloquin said.
With hundreds of men who had never stepped inside a church building, the men’s dinner, Peloquin said, was one of the most powerful moments he had ever experienced.
“I was overwhelmed as God visited us in a new and life-changing way. He did that and our church has never been the same. The real story lies in the lives that were changed that weekend.”
One of the many outstanding evidences of this was when a tug-boat captain who had been raised in a Mormon home came forward to profess Jesus as Savior. Men who came in to eat steak and shrimp left with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Also in the morning service a single mother who was raising three children was saved.
“I heard Jay Lowder preach at the State Evangelism Conference in Euless and prayed about inviting him to come and preach a revival,” Peloquin said. “Jay asked me if I was open to an outdoor-type event that would reach lost people on four levels–men, women, students and children.”
After many conversations with Joe Simmons, the crusade/event evangelism consultant for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and much prayer, Brighton Park Baptist decided to take part in an effort to reach their city for Christ.
It was a revival unlike any that Peloquin had seen with Lowder’s comprehensive approach. It captured citywide attention, with the church being on the Corpus Christi Bay near Oso Bay in South Corpus Christi.
“We were able to secure an outdoor tent big enough to hold the attendance because our worship center would not be able to hold the services,” Peloquin said. “We were able to locate exhibitors, and even people in our community willing to come help with sponsorships or give-a-ways.”
There were activities for children and families such as inflatables, food, and exhibitions from all across the state for hunters of deer, gorilla, monkeys, elk, hog and bobcats. A big thrill for children of all ages was the touch tanks with stingrays and marine life of all sorts. Hank Hough’s dog hunting demonstration drew hundreds as he shared about training a world champion dog, and then how to be a champion through Jesus Christ.
Although the expo sought to reach all people, it is designed to attract men.
“We felt we already had a pretty solid grip on how to reach students but after years of evangelistic outreaches we began to see that students were getting saved in mass, only to go home to unbelieving, resistant parents,” Lowder said, “Furthermore, I became convinced that if you could reach the man at the home then you could impact the whole family. This is seen in the Phillipian jailer, once his heart was high-jacked by Christ his whole family followed suit.”
Lowder’s involvement in outdoor expo events was birthed through a conversation with Jerry Falwell before his death in 2007, Lowder explained.
“We are still engaged in extremely effective four-day crusades, but we wanted to provide a high-octane event that would only be held on weekends,” Lowder said. “Some pastors were reluctant to pursue extended events and we knew that a 48-hour outreach would remove some of their hesitancy.”
Lowder said men are often uneasy in what they consider to be a touchy-feely and non-masculine setting. Many churches have their worship, stage appearance and temperature of the services set in a way that often leave men with a disconnected feeling. The outdoor expos are set up in a way where these men can feel more comfortable.
“I have hunted my whole life and know from experience that men who feel at home outdoors are a different breed of people; most are tough, rugged, and a man’s kind of man,” Lowder said. “Some people don’t understand that the hunting community is not just a bunch of hillbillies and rednecks but also of doctors, lawyers and businessmen of all types.”
Lowder, who said he can relate to such men, said he wants to follow Jesus’ model of ministry by “not waiting for them to come to the gospel but rather take the gospel to them.”
Peloquin said, “We had over 400 men at the event with 50 men trusting in Jesus, just that evening.”
Lowder spoke during the men’s dinner about hunting and was able to tie it to the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.
“After that he launched right into John 3 and you could’ve heard a pin drop,” Peloquin said. “He had the attention of every man in the room.”
“We have seen as many as 100 men accept Christ in one service,” Lowder said, “The same men who never grabbed the handle on a church door have shot into our events like a bullet and left penetrated by Christ. Jesus was a carpenter and everything in Scripture leads me to believe that he men of his day were drawn to his presence.”
Lowder added: “Jesus engaged fishermen, Roman gladiators, and even mountain men who ate locusts and wild honey. Shouldn’t we be doing the same?”
To learn more about the SBTC’s outdoor expo events, contact the SBTC Evangelism Team toll-free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC).