TYLER It was a milestone for Harvest Ministries and evangelist Jay Lowder, an accomplished outdoorsman whose hunting prowess has placed him on the cover of ESPN Outdoors magazine.
But his satisfaction in duck hunting and other outdoor sports doesn’t belong in the same category as the joy of seeing 234 men make professions of faith in one evening, he said.
That was the case on July 3 in Tyler during a men’s outreach banquet hosted by Green Acres Baptist Church. Lowder, the primary evangelist used by the SBTC in evangelistic rallies geared toward men, drew the rapt attention of the 1,400-plus guys in attendance as he shared four lessons from his hunting and fishing ventures before turning a corner in his presentation.
“I’ve learned a lot in the great outdoors. The truth is a lot of these men would not set foot in your church to hear a sermon. But it’s not your typical sermon,” Lowder explained in an interview with the TEXAN.
In his typical preaching, Lowder is known for quoting lots of Scripture. But not in the presence of men unlikely to know the difference between the books of Malachi and Matthew.
“This is a night to hang out with buddies,” Lowder stressed.
The four lessons are: “One wrong decision can bring the regret of a lifetime,” “Understand decoys,” “Learn to follow a blood trail,” and “Make sure your weapon is sighted in.” After telling real-life stories of how each lesson was learned, Lowder changes course and applies them to a deeper context: one’s relationship with God.
For example, “the only way I could track that deer down was to follow the blood trail. But 2,000 years ago, the real blood trail was spilled,” Lowder explained. “I go through the gospel with just a brief explanation of the atonement. I talk about sin ? adultery, fornication, pride, greed. And then the good news, the ultimate blood trail leading to Calvary’s hill where you can meet a man named Christ.”
“It was just absolutely amazing,” said Joe Simmons, SBTC evangelism consultant who introduced Lowder at the event. Previously, the greatest number of men making salvation decisions in a Harvest meeting was 126 at The Church at Quail Creek in Amarillo several years ago, Simmons said.
“We believe that men respond to a challenge,” Lowder said. “If you want to get under my skin, just challenge me. These guys are conquerors, they are go-getters. A lot of these guys respond to ‘Hey, you are going to say yes or no to Jesus tonight?'”
Simmons said former SBC president Bobby Welch was in attendance and marveled at the response to the invitation, asking Simmons why more churches are not using such events to evangelize.
“He is the most effective evangelist we have doing this work,” Simmons said of Lowder. “His message was so on target and the men responded so well.”
Earlier in the evening, the men also heard a testimony from former University of Texas and Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy.
The next scheduled SBTC Harvest Outreach event is scheduled Sept 10-12 at First Baptist Church of Lake Fork in conjunction with a BASS Tour fishing event in the area.
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