Just moments after Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson wrapped up the invitation at the close of his message, the severe thunderstorm that had threatened to wash out Beast Feast all day finally broke loose.
“One of our guys said he stood out in it and it felt like he was being sandblasted with rain pellets,” said Bruce Stinson, pastor at First Baptist Church Hamshire and one of the evangelistic event’s founders. “The people who got saved this year at Beast Feast definitely did not do so because they were comfortable. It was a great night all around and we are still counting the victories.”
More than 3,500 men, women and children attended this year’s Beast Feast held at Beaumont’s Ford Park Entertainment Complex on May 11. This was the third year for the event and each year it has grown both in attendance and in lives being changed.
“As of right now we have 32 confirmations of people who accepted Christ,” Stinson said. “Everything that was within our control went very well and the things outside of our control, like the weather … well, we did what we could do.”
But God wasn’t surprised by the storm, and Stinson said he believes God had a plan with that, too.
“What if there was a man who had originally planned to go fishing that night and decided to attend Beast Feast instead because of the impending storm?” he said. “The Lord could have called that storm for such a time as this, so although we can’t control the elements, we are on the side of the one who does.”
This year’s Beast Feast keynote speaker was Phil Robertson, a.k.a. “The Duck Commander.”
On stage the professional hunter, businessman and television show star revealed that while he definitely enjoys being a fisherman, God has blessed him with the ability to be a great “fisher of men” by proving that loving Jesus and being a manly man are not mutually exclusive.
“I’ve heard Phil preach before, but I had never heard him preach the gospel like that,” Stinson said. “He preached for an hour taking the crowd from Genesis to Revelation: from the cradle to the grave. It was the clearest gospel message I’ve ever heard, and he didn’t hold anything back. Along the way he also intelligently refuted every point of argument that a person might have about God and his plan for salvation through Jesus. It was absolutely incredible.”
A family-friendly focus
The planning and preparation for Beast Feast occurred in partnership with representatives from both FBC Hamshire and Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont. This year marked the churches’ second year working together in order to put on a bigger, region-wide event. Beast Feast started as an outreach targeting men and their sons. But after praying about it, the team realized that the targeted group already spent enough time off work in boats or hunting blinds—away from their families.
“Why would we want to create another event that separated these men from their families?” said Clay Jones, missions pastor at Calvary. “Beast Feast offers these men the opportunity to share something they love with their families.”
Additional highlights of the evening included live music performed by members of both Calvary and FBC Hamshire, pulled pork sliders catered by Wings of the Spirit and Mercy Chefs (two organizations that provide food in disaster relief settings), and an array of carnival-like exhibits, products and demonstrations featuring the great outdoors, as well as other programs and ministries geared toward families.
“From 400 attendees the first year to 3,000 last year, then 3,500 this year, I never would have dreamed it would get this big this quick,” Stinson said. “In our next meeting we will debrief and look at everything from top to bottom and see what worked well and what can be improved, so that we can give God even more glory because that’s what it’s all about. From the very first day we agreed that nothing we did would ever be about the bottom line. It’s all about reaching more and more people. What the Lord is doing is just incredible.”
A bigger vision
While individual lives have been forever impacted because of Beast Feast, the team has also allocated a portion of the funds raised to help fulfill the vision of one of its founding members, Jake Stone.
“Jake had a vision to buy a piece of land to be used to take underprivileged, fatherless or physically disabled kids hunting,” Jones said. “We lost Jake in a tragic car accident over the summer. We will honor him by moving forward toward this dream.”
Stinson admitted feelings of frustration over the death of Stone, who had “turned his life around” and was passionate about reaching men with the gospel.
“It’s difficult, but I trust God that his way is perfectly permissible, and I see how he is continuing to use Jake to reach people even though he’s gone. I believe that Jake will get rewards and I can’t wait to see what God does because of the legacy of his life,” Stinson said.
Jones said one reason he believes God has blessed Beast Feast so tremendously is because its purpose seeks to tackle one of the biggest problems in the world today: the lack of godly fathers in homes.
“This is often the root of all other issues,” he said. “We feel that if we can bring men face to face with the gospel, lives will be changed, and they will become better fathers, husbands, employees, etc.”
“We want to glorify God. We want to see souls saved. We want to see families strengthened,” Stinson said.
Jones said they would be happy to answer questions or offer guidance to churches or associations that may want to put on an event like Beast Feast in their areas. For more information, email Jones at email@example.com.
“While we are not experts, we do feel like there are some things we have learned—mostly through mistakes—that would benefit others,” Jones added.