By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
WOODWORTH – The seven FAITH Riders chapters in Louisiana mounted their motorcycles July 24 for their first-ever statewide ministry.
In all, 49 riders on 36 motorcycles roared around the recreation area at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center during the last day of the High Pursuit youth camp. The bikers revved their bikes as they rode nearly fender to fender almost menacingly around the 220 seventh- through twelfth-graders, who minutes before had been lounging on the grass.
Instinctively the teens began drawing closer to each other for protection, eyes widened in heightened awareness, and still the motorcycles roared.
Until they stopped and the bikers disembarked and started walking toward the youth. High Pursuit leaders quickly directed the teens to the nearby basketball court, where the tension eased as Dwayne Rogers, police chief at Louisiana College, stood in jeans and t-shirt and talked about feeling trapped. The only answer is Christ – finding and knowing him, Rogers said.
“It was a phenomenal success,” said Matt Coussan, associate director of Tall Timbers. “It was one of those pieces of the puzzle that makes everything fit.”
Camp Pastor Casey Johnson didn’t preach Saturday night.
“He was very sensitive to the Lord,” Coussan said. “Repentance was flowing and there was nothing to do but get out of the way. The Lord’s presence was enough.”
By the end of High Pursuit, 30 teens made professions of faith, four answered a call to ministry, and six gave their lives to missions.
This was the fifth year for High Pursuit.
“The Lord has really blessed it,” Coussan said. “The first year we had 11 kids, and this year, 220. I think that’s because when we started, we made a conscious decision that as we offered invitations for kids to come to Jesus that we would expose them to the opportunity to do missions and ministry too.
“We pray every week, all year long, for this camp,” Coussan continued. “We’re not trying to convince them what we believe, but to introduce them to Who we know.”
The Saturday afternoon visit by the FAITH Riders “was definitely a huge piece of the puzzle,” Coussan said. “It definitely painted a picture the kids could understand.
“Without question the Lord moved in a huge way this week, and you have to contribute everything to that – the Bible study, Bible study leaders, worship band and the FAITH Riders,” Coussan continued. “The band is the Ryan John Band; they’ve been with us since the beginning. … Everybody plays their part, and God gets the glory.”
Coussan was still on a high from the week when he talked with the Baptist Message July 28.
“I’m changed forever from the week,” he said. “Realizing that all our planning and preparation is important, and God honors that, but ultimately it is His decision and what happens is under His authority. … The overwhelming presence of the Lord got my attention.”
Trinity Baptist Church in Sulphur has the newest FAITH Riders chapter in Louisiana. Pastor Lamar Huffman got it started within the last year. He and several from the chapter participated in the Tall Timbers ministry at High Pursuit youth camp.
“I think we’ve come to the mentality that as much fun as our bikes are, we can use them as tools to talk about what Christ has done,” Huffman said. “The bikes tend to attract people. They ask how big they are and how fast they are, and that gives us an opportunity to talk about how big and great our God is, our Christ is.
“At Tall Timbers, we were hoping we would get a point across about how scary the world can be,” Huffman continued, “but ultimately with Christ we shouldn’t have to fear anything because He’s our solid rock. He’s our protector, our salvation.”
Pine Grove Baptist in Ruby was the first FAITH Riders chapter in Louisiana; Brookwood Baptist in Shreveport was the 100th chapter in the nation to be organized. The other FAITH Riders chapters in the state: Trinity Sulphur, Providence Leesville, First Elton, Philadelphia Deville, and Thompson Road in Slidell.
For more information about FAITHRiders, contact Keith Manuel, LBC evangelism associate, or his assistant, Lydia Garza, at 318.448.3227, or www.faithriders.com.
For more information about High Pursuit Youth Camp at Tall Timbers, call 318.445.6797 or check out www.talltimbersbcc.org.