Guy Fredrick’s idea of fun may seem strange to some. He enjoys “breaking” his truck on rocks, spinning his tires in several feet of sludge, and slipping, sliding and smashing on deserted, impassable trails.
Guy Fredrick’s idea of fun may seem strange to some.
He enjoys “breaking” his truck on rocks, spinning his tires in several
feet of sludge, and slipping, sliding and smashing on deserted,
For most people, this might seem more like an
impending insurance claim than “fun.” But for Fredrick, his weekend
off-roading jaunts are not only his hobby; they have become a means of
reaching an unreached people group – the unconventional “off-roading”
community of America.
“It’s just exciting for me to have an opportunity to
reach out to an unreached people group,” says Fredrick, a Wisconsin
native and master of divinity student at Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “For me, as a church planter, as a cultural
anthropologist, as a missionary, one of my goals is to find people no
one else can reach. …
“Just because of my natural bent, my abilities as a
mechanic and my love for a sport, I’ve found a lot of people that no
one is reaching,” he continues. “On the weekends, they’re off in the
woods; they’re out camping and doing things with their trucks and their
bikes and their ATVs.”
Oddly enough, the medium of Fredrick’s witness is
not primarily off-road. It’s online, though Internet forums frequented
by fun-seekers like Fredrick.
He became aware of this evangelistic opportunity
several years ago after taking up off-roading again following a brief
seminary-induced hiatus from the hobby. The reason for the
reintroduction to the sport was his son, who had purchased a Jeep.
The two joined a secular 4-wheel-drive club, and
they started searching on the Web for information on outfitting their
Fredrick and his son also started participating in online discussions
on adventure enthusiast websites. Every once in a while on these
forums, other topics would come up and debates would arise.
“I would start engaging in some of these online
debates – full-on apologetic [discussions] with some very bright
individuals that happened to just like trucks,” Fredrick recalls. “But
for the most part, [they were] people very secular and atheistic in
Using his seminary training, he would debate
theological topics – ranging from evolution to the existence of God.
Several of Fredrick’s Internet posts were read by more than 15,000
“That’s a lot of exposure,” Fredrick explains. “They
started calling me the ‘Pastornator’ because my arguments were kind of
devastating to atheists. That didn’t mean I won a lot of people to my
side, but I did lay out a full Gospel apologetic and shared my faith at
God used his arguments to influence some, however.
Three people told him that they accepted Christ and joined a local
church in the last year because of some of the truths they read online.
“What I’m presenting for them is some serious
apologetic arguments for God,” Fredrick says. “Apologetics don’t lead
to salvation directly. But what they do is that they move people to a
place where salvation is possible.”
Fredrick always encourages those in his
conversations not to have an Internet-only faith, but a faith that is
lived out in the real world.
“I see it as a way of taking people out of
cyberspace and putting them into real space – getting them united with
another believer in a city or a church somewhere, getting them hooked
up with real people, because God works through real people,” Fredrick
Nearly 100 people have told Fredrick that some of the things he said have caused them to come back to God.
“They are Christians, but they just kind of let it
slide, because it was more fun to play with their trucks than it was to
worship God,” he says. “And they didn’t realize the two things could go
Also, more than 100 readers have sent private
messages thanking Fredrick for his words on the family or apologetics.
Based on this positive response, Fredrick started
looking around for other Christian off-roading enthusiasts online and
found some scattered around the country. He decided to try to get a
central gathering point for the believers involved in the various
From that, United Christian Off-Road Alliance was
born. He founded the organization with six other men and their wives.
Currently, they have 135 registered members after only a few months of
Members of the organization helped organize the
first West Coast Christian Off-road Jamboree, with 75 trucks and 150
people in attendance.
“They got together to drive their trucks over almost
impossible terrain in the desert of California and at night to worship
God,” explains Fredrick, who was unable to attend due to earlier
Over the Memorial Day weekend, they held the East Coast Jamboree in Kentucky.
“We … take our trucks and break them on the rocks
all day and at night … talk about the Living Rock,” he says.
The online forums also provided another evangelistic
opportunity recently. One forum’s moderator and a Christian had asked
Fredrick to perform his wedding. But it wasn’t a normal wedding.
The man wanted Fredrick to travel to Moab, Utah, a
mecca for off-roaders. The betrothed couple would make their vows at
the end of a particular path called the “Top of the World” trail – a
difficult, rocky trek with a 3,500-foot drop at the top.
“We went out there with a bunch of secular
off-roaders and did a very overtly Christian wedding,” Fredrick recalls.
Through all these evangelistic encounters, Fredrick is happy to have his seminary training.
“To have the solid base that I’ve been given here at
Southern is absolutely critical, because I know that I can stand on the
Scriptures and not have to worry about somebody defeating my arguments
because my arguments are true,” he notes.
Fredrick hopes in the future to keep growing the
fledgling United Christian Off-Road Alliance and keep participating in
these apologetic debates.
“There is a community there. And people who hang out
there don’t hang out anywhere else,” he said. “… I don’t know where
the seeds I’m planting will end up, but they’re planted and the Holy
Spirit is at work and prayer is involved.” (BP)