‘Light Up Missouri,’ test program making God’s Word shine through

Dan Steinbeck/contributing writer

MOBERLY – Members at The Gathering Biker Church here recently distributed Bibles as a part of a Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) test program, sharing the light of God’s Word not only with bikers at an annual rally in the Lake of the Ozarks, but also with patients at a treatment center in Oregon.

Earlier this year, The Gathering Biker Church took part in test-piloting “Light Up Missouri,” an MBC initiative designed to transform communities with God’s Word combined with “God’s Plan for Sharing” (GPS), a servanthood evangelism effort with the goal of distributing one million Bibles throughout Missouri. So far about 47,000 Bibles have been distributed throughout Missouri, but the effort is producing fruit beyond the state’s borders.

Rose Branstetter, whose husband, Bob, pastors The Gathering, said a woman named Tracy attended the church for about a year with an aunt, when she left early in the fall to return to Oregon where her daughter lived. Tracy dealt with problems with substance abuse and went to a treatment center in Oregon. When Tracy was telling others in the treatment center what God was doing in her life, she noticed the center had no Bibles.

The Branstetters, with blessings from Crossroads Baptist Association Director of Missions Rick Hall, sent the center 15 Bibles and another 15 New Testaments for children. The Branstetters have since heard from the recipients of the Bibles in the treatment center, saying that they were appreciative of the Bibles and that some have promised to read them.

Several weeks after this out-of-state outreach, on Sept. 14, six bikers from The Gathering joined another seven or so riders of the Missouri Baptist Bikers Fellowship (MBBF) at the annual Lake of the Ozarks Bike Fest. Hundreds of bikers attend the annual event.

“We approached it by asking bikers if they had a Bible for their saddlebags,” Hall said, adding that most of the people he talked to at the motorcycle festival gladly accepted a Bible, with only a few refusing to take God’s word with them.

Rose Branstetter agreed. “A lot of people received the Bibles. Some people didn’t acknowledge us, some politely refused, but a lot of people took them. We probably gave away 250 to 300 Bibles.”

Hall said Charlie Kempf, pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church at the Lake of the Ozarks, offered the MBBF a place to store Bibles and, in past years, has let them put a tent on church grounds.

Hall said that, next year, the Bibles will be presented in plastic bags to prevent dust and reduce the opportunities for pages to be bent.

Branstetter said that not all of the approximate 30 people at The Gathering have motorcycles. “We have all kinds of people who love God,” she said. Still they are willing to help with other Bible distributions, especially among motorcycle enthusiasts.

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