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Hunting & fishing stories enliven new devotional books

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP)–Jimmy Sites has hunted alongside Amazon warriors and faced off with bears in Alaska, but one of his toughest challenges didn’t happen in the wild.

It happened in a room full of first- through fourth-graders.

Sites hosts a national TV and radio show, “Spiritual Outdoor Adventures,” and travels the world sharing God’s Word to people who hunger for adventure. He is one of a small number of outdoorsmen who has turned his love for hunting and fishing into a fulltime ministry — and sometimes that includes speaking to a rowdy group of children.

“I’m just sitting there thinking, ‘What would make me connect with these kids?’” said Sites, who also is the teaching pastor at New River Fellowship Church in Franklin, Tenn.

“I just got up there and said, ‘I’m an adventurer. … Do you want to hear my stories?’ They all said, ‘Yea!’

“That’s what I do,” he added. “I share my adventures with people and I weave in spiritual application…. [E]verybody loves adventure.”

Sites has teamed up with fellow hunter Jason Cruise, founder of the Outdoor Ministry Network, to write a devotional book, “Into the High Country, released by B&H Publishing Group, the trade books division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Another new release is “Success Afield: Principles for a Sportsman’s Life” by Joey Hancock, who also is a national speaker and outdoor TV personality.

In both books, the authors share dozens of hunting and fishing stories, mixing in spiritual principles and discipleship. Many of the stories include the joys of shooting wild birds and “monster bucks,” while learning in the same paragraph how to live for Jesus Christ. Using people’s interests to draw them closer to the Lord is nothing new in the Bible, Sites said.

“Jesus was always picking up on what people were interested in and using that to teach a spiritual lesson,” Sites said. “That’s exactly what we are doing with Into the High Country.”

But the books are just one aspect of this growing ministry.

Sites’ weekly TV show can be accessed in 47 million homes. In addition to sharing his faith and adventures on TV and via radio, he helped distribute more than 20,000 Bibles geared toward outdoorsmen last year. At a recent wild game supper he attended, 36 people gave their lives to Christ.

Jason Cruise’s Outdoor Ministry Network also is impacting lives throughout the country. What started out as occasional wild game suppers and skeet shoots quickly blossomed into a fulltime ministry. Cruise has moved from the pastorate of Belmont Height Baptist Church in Nashville to help churches around the country start ministries for outdoorsman.

“Most churches want to reach outdoorsman, but don’t know where to begin,” Cruise said. “I’ve had so many people come to me looking [for resources]. We’re trying to help that guy get it done, all the way from Dr. Bubba to farmer Bubba.”

Some of these resources include, “The Sportsman’s Bible” and the DVD “Building an Outdoor Ministry Starter Kit.” The focus of the material is to help churches appeal to men who normally wouldn’t set foot inside their buildings.

One mistake some ministry leaders make is “disguising a church service as an outdoor event,” Cruise said, describing it as “ambush evangelism” or a “church service with a little bit of squirrel meat.” An outdoor ministry event isn’t the place for hymns, choirs and alter calls, he said.

“If you’re going to do it, you have to look at who’s in the crowd,” he said. “You have to share your faith, but people pick up pretty quick if they’ve been duped.”

This type of ministry is about adventure, Sites said. When following Christ, the adventure never ends.

“You can live on the edge of adventure for God, and that is really what Christianity is all about,” he said. “It’s risky. It’s high adrenaline.”

Speaking to a room full of grade school kids might not be that tough after all.

    About the Author

  • Shawn Hendricks