Hundreds profess faith in Christ at three-day oil field trade show

ODESSA—A Harley Davidson motorcycle may seem an unlikely tool for evangelism, but for attendees of the Permian Basin International Oil Show (PBIOS), Oct. 21-23, a drawing to win a brand new set of wheels also provided an opportunity to hear the gospel. 

Local Southern Baptist churches partnered to provide free lunch across the street from the PBIOS for its participants. Each person received a meal ticket, and if they agreed to watch a three-minute video presentation of the gospel, they could enter that ticket in a raffle for several prizes, including the motorcycle.

“Our heart was to try to reach those in the oil field,” said Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Director of Evangelism Nathan Lorick.

The idea originally came about last year when a group of church leaders in Odessa gathered together to plan a joint effort to share Christ in their city. Pastor Ivy Shelton of Sherwood Baptist Church said when the dates of the oil show first came up, the consensus was to choose another time to hold an event, but they soon recognized the potential gospel impact.

“Not only do we have a great number of people that participate in that expo from the area but also from the state of Texas and the nation,” Shelton said. “We realized it could be an evangelistic event that would not only impact our city but would also send the seeds of the gospel to parts of our world.”

Out of an estimated 1,000 people who came to eat lunch over the course of three days, 600 viewed the video, and more than 200 made professions of faith. Many others also reached out with needs for prayer.

“The big thing was just seeing people bow their heads to pray to receive Christ. That was the most amazing thing, to see that and know there was a change happening in people’s hearts,” Shelton said.

Along with Sherwood Baptist Church, members from First Baptist Church of Odessa, Mission Dorado Baptist Church, Kingston Avenue Baptist Church and Living Word Baptist Church contributed to the event, which they called “Fractured,” playing off of a common oil field term. It was truly a collaborative effort, supported also by local businesses that donated food; the SBTC, which provided gospel tracts to engage oilfield workers; and the Oilfield Christian Fellowship, which gave thousands of Bibles to be handed out.

“A really cool thing for the church was just to see all the different churches and people from those churches coming together and cooperating together to pull this thing off,” Shelton said. “Seeing God’s people come together, seeing people that were ministered to that needed that, and just seeing lives that were changed.”

Lorick is also thankful for the joint effort of the churches in planning the Fractured event.

“The churches really worked hard,” Lorick said. “God showed up. There were many people saved, and many people engaged with the gospel, and we’re extremely grateful for the partnership we have with the churches in this event.”

The oil show has packed up and moved out of Odessa, but leaders look forward to the long-lasting effects on their community, and even beyond.

“As we do the follow-up, we hope to see the people that accepted Christ come into our local churches and strengthen the churches that are here, and in turn, strengthen ministry in our city,” Shelton said. “We also hope that those that were from out of town or other states, that the seeds of the gospel would go back with them and impact those communities also.”

Though the next Permian Basin International Oil Show isn’t scheduled until 2016, Shelton said Fractured was designed with the intention to carry on in the future.

“We branded it in such a way that we can use that name again and there will be some recognition of it and what we’re doing. Our hope is that in two years, we can do it again.”

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