And the people came. They came from Elmer, Farmerville, Minden, Bastrop, Monroe, Shreveport, Alexandria, Pineville, Hammond, Baton Rouge, Gonzales, and Kentwood. They came from North, Central and South Louisiana. There were even some from as far away as Mississippi and Texas.
BASTROP – And the people came.
They came from Elmer, Farmerville, Minden, Bastrop, Monroe, Shreveport, Alexandria, Pineville, Hammond, Baton Rouge, Gonzales, and Kentwood. They came from North, Central and South Louisiana. There were even some from as far away as Mississippi and Texas.
Organizers for the annual 4 Wheels 4 Him four-wheeler trail ride expected a big crowd but marveled at the final numbers. They also marveled at the distance in which some traveled to participate.
“I was excited because we I saw we had 430 to pre-register. But when the article came out in the Message we began to get flooded with phone calls and now people are showing up in droves to register,” said Andy Myrick, Evangelism Director for the Northeast Louisiana Baptist Association and one of the organizers for the event. “This turnout is beyond anything I ever dreamed would happen.
“Many of these people drove hundreds of miles to get here,” Myrick said. “And there is not a doubt in my mind that it was God who has guided them here.”
The event, sponsored jointly by the Morehouse and Northeast Baptist Associations in partnership with the Louisiana Baptist Convention, drew 676 participants and more than 500 ATVs. Add 250 volunteers from 40 churches – 120 from host Tillou Baptist Church alone — and there were more than 900 people on hand.
“This event started out a ministry for men but has developed into a family event, which is just super,” LBC Men’s Ministry and Volunteer Strategist Gibbie McMillan said. “We’ve got people from as far away as Elmer, Kentwood, Gonzales, Hammond and Baton Rouge. Why I even saw a truck with Texas plates.
“This type of participation is huge because if we can reach the men, the families will follow,” McMillan said.
Throughout the registration, as live Gospel music played, and children laughed and played on the two large jumpers provided by the LBC, many volunteers, including a large group from the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, fanned out among the crowd to lift up Jesus Christ.
As time grew near for the start of the ride, participants were brought before a makeshift stage to hear the Gospel presented by Keith Manuel, Evangelism Associate for the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
“Today, you have all come to a four-wheel ride but for some you are starting a journey greater than anything you have ever experienced,” Manuel said. “You are starting a journey with our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As he finished speaking, he invited those in the crowd to bow their heads and raise their hand if they were willing to make a commitment to Christ ¬– either by salvation or by surrendering to a ministry.
There were two salvations while 62 others surrendered to ministry and missions, 31 rededicated their lives to Christ and six others made decisions.
The crowd was then asked to fill out cards – so the different churches would have contact information – and were collected by the youth from several different churches.
“The key to an event like this is the follow ups,” McMillan said. “Last year, we had a little girl surrender to the Lord at the event but there were others decisions given later. These cards identify people in their area who need to reached.”
Marty Black, Evangelism Director for Morehouse Association and pastor of Bonita Road Baptist Church, said an event, such as the four-wheeler ride, brings people together into a non-threatening environment.
“A lot of the ones that come to an event like this may have already been invited to church but wouldn’t go,” Black said. “Many of these people are hearing the Gospel being shared with them for the first time. It can have a huge impact on them.
“From an evangelism standpoint this is huge,” Black said about the turnout. “We don’t want to look just at the day, but beyond. We have planted the seeds and now it is up to our individual churches to take care of the harvest.”
The ride was divided up into teams – 14 of 40 to 50 people apiece – and for the next four hours four-wheelers of every make and model worked their way over marked trails and through mud holes that were deceptively deep.
“It took us a good two hours to complete the ride,” Myrick said. “We had to stop a couple of times to get people unstuck. I believe everyone had a lot of fun.”
Encouraged by the turnout, McMillan is looking to expand into south Louisiana – Mt. Olive and Two Rivers Associations.
“Right now, I am trying to find a host church for each of the events with access to land close to the church. We really would like to find some place where there isn’t a lot of traffic, especially if we have a turnout like this. Tillou is an ideal location for this event,” McMillan said.
As the riders returned, they were treated to a barbecue hamburger or hot dog and a hose to wash some of the mud off of themselves and their four-wheelers.
“Look at the smiles. Everyone had a great time,” Myrick said. “I can’t thank the people of Tillou and Doug Edwards, their pastor, for hosting this event. But we’ve gotten a lot of help from a lot of people, such as Morehouse Parish Sheriff Mike Tubbs who not only came himself but also provided deputies and several cars to help with traffic control. Local businesses donated more than 100 door prizes. We had an ambulance from American Medical Response and six nurses. And I want to thank all the wonderful volunteers.”
“I believe the Lord was pleased with our gathering today for Him because he blessed us with a beautiful day, a great turnout and a wonderful event,” said McMillan. “And with the Lord’s blessing anything is possible.”