“True worship … happens when you give yourself completely to God.” — Rick Warren, “The Purpose-Driven Life”
MOBERLY, Mo. (BP)–Vicky Snodgrass had not read Rick Warren’s book last summer when she took some youth from her church to Super Summer at Hannibal-LaGrange College. At the time, she hadn’t given much thought to the “total surrender” aspect of Christianity.
Snodgrass, an active member at First Baptist Church in Moberly, Mo., met Christ as a 7-year-old at Madison Baptist Church, located eight miles east of Moberly on Highway 24. And now — at Super Summer — she was trying to serve the Lord by working with the youth.
But “someone” spoke to Snodgrass, impressing upon her that she needed to surrender completely to God.
That’s what she did.
And God has done the rest.
The results were visible in the Moberly Area Community College activities center in October when about 2,000 teens from north-central Missouri packed into a building normally used for basketball games to watch motorcycle daredevils and hear about Jesus.
An estimated 300 of the young people responded to the preaching of motorcyclist Brad Bennett in making decisions for Christ.
“The results were greater than I expected,” said Snodgrass, one of many volunteers who worked to make the event possible. “I really didn’t think anything like this would ever happen in Moberly. Why God used me, I don’t know. I know the Bible teaches that God will use the most unlikely people, and I felt like I was the most unlikely to be used. It’s incredible.”
What attracted the youths was a production of Real Encounter, featuring daredevil, ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps by Bennett and the other two riders on his team, two drama presentations by Clear Drama of Springfield, Mo., and some lively music by the Riley Armstrong Band, a Canadian group working in Nashville, Tenn., where they have a recording contract with Flicker Records.
The night with Real Encounter had the youth so “fired up” that it took Bennett more than five minutes to get them quiet enough to listen to his Gospel message.
“I want to tell you the second part of my story,” Bennett began. “This is the most important part.”
Bennett told how he aspired to be a professional motocross racer. He attained that goal at the age of 19. Bennett shared how he was invited by Steve Wise, a big-name motocross racer, to a function at Wise’s home, and how Wise confronted him with the Gospel that evening.
When Bennett invited students to make the same decision he made that eventful evening years ago, hands shot up throughout the activity center. And when Bennett asked those who held up their hands to make the decision public, what seemed like hundreds began moving toward Bennett.
The attendance at the activity center — an estimated 2,000 — was the largest crowd in the new building’s five-year history.
“We do basically the same thing at every one of our events,” Bennett said while reflecting on the Moberly production. “When churches get together, work together in unity and pray together and we do all the right things in the planning process, this is what happens. It was such a sweet spirit in that building at Moberly that night.”
Bennett sensed that the Moberly event would be good before “one person showed up.”
“When I get to an event on Sunday night, I can sense right away whether churches have been working together or not,” Bennett said. “When churches don’t work together and when they have not been bathing an event in prayer, it is obvious from the get-go.”
Prayer plays a key role in the Real Encounter events.
“We had about 300 students at the Moberly High School auditorium for a city-side worship service the Sunday night before the event,” Bennett said. “I could tell that night that God was up to something big.
“We asked students to pray for at least five of their friends that were lost. About 95 percent of the kids came to the altar that night, agreeing to fast from the Internet, radio and TV and pray. They were all at the altar on their faces. There were so many names going up to the Lord.”
Many evangelical churches in the Moberly area supported the effort, as did the Missouri Baptist Convention.
But it wasn’t only young people that God touched at Moberly.
After the Real Encounter activities and as teenagers were filing out of the activity center, Bennett saw the facility manager standing by himself, waiting to lock the doors.
“I just felt the Lord telling me to go to him. His name was Herman,” Bennett said. “When I went up and started talking, he was really open. He said my message got to him right here, patting his heart. He said, ‘I’m ready to do that.’ I was able to lead him to the Lord.”
During the conversation, Bennett learned that Herman’s daughter had been saved recently at First Baptist, Moberly, and had been witnessing to her dad.
In conjunction with the Missouri Baptist Convention, seven Real Encounter events are scheduled for 2004.
Snodgrass continues to be in awe of what happened in Moberly.
“All I did was what God placed on my heart,” Snodgrass said. “I felt that was what God wanted to happen. And now I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: INNOVATIVE EVANGELISM.