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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Prattville church reaches out with Sportsmenís Campcomment (0)

March 27, 2003

By Anthony Wade


Transforming a church into a sportsmen’s paradise was the arena where Christ transformed the lives of many hunters and fishermen.
   
“Our first goal of the whole thing was to get people who were not saved in there,” said Bryan Easley, minister of administration at East Memorial Baptist Church, Prattville. 
   
The church-sponsored Sportsmen’s Camp on Feb. 15 lasted from 3:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.
   
As attendees arrived they saw pickups, all-terrain vehicles and tractors  displayed outside. 
   
Inside, the long glass foyer became a trophy room while in the auditorium the stage area was home to a huge backdrop mural of deer and ducks.
   
The crowd included not only avid hunters and fishermen, but also mamas pushing strollers and granddaddies holding their grandchildren’s hands. “It was a festival atmosphere,” said Stephen Odum, East Memorial media director and spokesman for the event, noting that 25 vendors set up in various places in and around the church.
   
The Prattville Bass Anglers club hosted a casting contest for 150 children in two ages groups — 7–10 and 11–14. For the first time, the contest was sanctioned, meaning that the winners could advance to the Bassmasters national casting contest.
   
After an afternoon of seminars led by notable hunting and fishing professionals, the 1,000 people attending gathered for a barbecue meal, after which a general assembly began in the auditorium, where $40,000 of donated prizes were given away. Inspiring attendees was the featured guest speaker, Clay Dyer. Despite being born with no legs and only a partial 16-inch-long right arm, he has been fishing professionally in Bassmasters’ tournaments for years. He currently fishes in two to four bass tournaments per month — more in the height of the season.
   
Dyer began fishing in tournaments of various levels when he was 15 years old.  “If I can do it, you can do it,” he said, inspiring the crowd with his official motto.
   
One of his favorite Bible verses is, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13 KJV).
   
Odum said Dyer amazed the crowd more with his abilities than with his disabilities, showing how he could tie a lure on a line using his mouth and casting his line using his partial arm, his only limb.
   
Easley said the event took the fish and game supper that some churches do and catapulting it to a whole new level. “Hunting and fishing can become your god, but once you come to know Christ, He puts your priorities in order.”
   
To conclude the event, East Memorial Pastor Glenn Graham Jr. presented the gospel in a powerful 10-minute message. According to Odum, 60 people attending the event registered decisions, including for salvation and rededication.

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