Nearly 2,000 men and boys gathered for the Men’s Game Banquet on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. United by a love for the great outdoors, 191 responded to the gospel message by surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ.
The Feb. 20 banquet in Fort Worth, Texas, featured free barbeque, exhibits, door prizes, and speakers Paige Patterson and David Morris, who shared hunting stories regarding some of their most prized trophies. But the clear focus of the evening appeared to be the gospel.
David Morris, Tecomate president and CEO, gave the first presentation, sharing, among other things, his experience of taking down an elephant. “[But] as much as I love hunting,” he said, “it is not my first love. My first love is Jesus Christ.”
Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson shared hunting stories and some of his trophies – including a cape buffalo, a roan antelope, and a lioness – displayed alongside him on stage Feb. 20 during the Men’s Game Banquet. In addition to sharing the gospel, Patterson noted America’s No. 1 problem today is that one out of every three children grows up without a father. Before the event ended, nearly 200 men made a profession of faith.
Morris explained that, for many years, he was hesitant to submit to God’s authority for fear that God would force him to abandon his aspirations and become a vocational minister. Nevertheless, conviction brought by the Holy Spirit eventually led him to surrender, he noted.
“And instead of taking away the things that He had put on my heart to have a passion for [like hunting], He expanded my horizons,” Morris said. “It was from that point that I began to hunt all over the world and have TV shows and hunt big deer and have ranches – things that I never dreamed. God’s plans for us are way bigger than ours.”
During his presentation, Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, encouraged those in attendance to go on safari in Africa. He shared some of his own experiences from his time on that continent, and some of his trophies – including a cape buffalo, a roan antelope, and a lioness – displayed alongside him on stage. Noting that such a trip presents an opportunity for family bonding, Patterson then transitioned into something of a more serious nature.
Citing a study conducted by the Dartmouth College medical school, Patterson said America’s No. 1 problem is not immigration, drugs, alcohol, gang warfare in the cities, or even issues with the government. Instead, the No. 1 problem in America today is that one out of every three children grows up without a father.
“We found out that as important as Mom is – and she is critical – Dad, to a little boy, is absolutely imperative,” Patterson said. “And what Daddy does, the kid’s going to do. No wonder we’re in trouble in America.”
Patterson also shared with the men that many of them are on their way to hell. Acknowledging the numerous reasons that one should want to avoid hell, Patterson pointed to one of particular significance.
“[That Dartmouth study] said that even the harshest of masters, the sons honor,” he said. “[So] as you file off into hell, look behind you: your boy will be there. He may be 13, he may be 33, he may be 53, but he’ll be following you to hell, and his son will follow him.”
In order to be made right with God, Patterson, alluding to Psalm 51:10, said one needs a new heart. He explained, “Only God can create in you a clean heart, but He can do it, and He can do it today.”
Patterson invited those who wanted to surrender their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ to pray a prayer of salvation. And nearly 200 men acknowledged they made that decision.
The following day, Patterson reflected, “While I thank my incredible crew last night for preparing the nets, it is God who prepared the fish! To our Lord goes the ultimate praise.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Alex Sibley is the senior writer/copy editor for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on the seminary’s website at swbts.edu.)