I remember that first time when I was asked to get up and preach at the derby, the fear that came over me, I was nervous, terrified in fact and yet I knew that this desire to preach had been there for a long while leading up to this very moment and I knew that I need to take this first step out in faith and not let this fear keep me from proclaiming the truth, I was prayed for by members on my team and I was in constant prayer in my mind with the Lord to help me overcome this fear and give me the courage to preach.
Here is the very first time I ever opened air preached at the Kentucky Derby.
Going back home from the Derby Outreach that first year I was so excited and couldn't wait to get on the streets in my local area and proclaim the gospel. Although, I couldn't find many others who were willing to go out with me and so I continued handing out tracts and engaging in one on ones.
After a phone conversation with Bill Adams ( Head of SFOI ) who gave me some encouragement and wisdom in how to go about preaching in the open air when I didn't have anyone else willing to go out with me.
It is wise to go out with others on the streets, going alone can be dangerous, which is why you must exercise wisdom if you desire to preach but have no one that is willing to join you. For example, don't go in a bad part of town by yourself to preach the gospel. A college campus, an open public area ( like a sporting event ) with lots of people passing by would be a better option. It's wiser to have someone with you but that might not always be an option, therefore, planning and being wise about where you go is necessary for your own safety.
It would be a few years before I began to see others out preaching the gospel that I was able to connect with and build friendships and partner with out local events. Every year I would encourage them to join me at the derby, knowing the impact it had on me and has help me grow over the years by learning from all the brothers who attend that can impart their knowledge and wisdom onto others has been a valuable part of my growth over the years in theology ( from the discussions among the brothers ), and ways to improve as an open air preacher.
Finally, after attempting to encourage the other local guys to attend, Adam Wright ( of Made For This Ministries ) joined me and has just returned from his fourth year at the Kentucky Derby Outreach.
I share all that to give you an idea of what it is like the first time you attend the derby and preach in the open air for the first time. There can be a tendency to leave the outreach on a spiritual high, longing to be around the brothers and preach with many others who are like minded but that is not always the case when you return home. Even so be faithful, continue to press on.
I caution you that while it is a great feeling and experience to be around so many like minded brothers who have a passion and desire to preach in the open air as you do, when going back home you might not experience the same atmosphere with brothers in your community or in your local church. Don't become disheartened but love on them and be gracious and kind. Should the Lord will, He will bring others along with you.
This year Adam and I had two brothers from our area join us for the first time. They contacted me in July 2018 looking to do evangelism. Nathaniel and Seth Porter began joining me at evangelism outreaches I had planned throughout the months of summer, into fall and winter. I told them about the Kentucky Derby and SFOI and they were on board wanting to join us. We were blessed to see these two brothers come out and experience the derby outreach for the first time. Here below is a picture of the two brothers sharing the gospel on our first day out at Churchill Downs for the Oaks.
The crowds will keep coming....
Large Crowds will come to the races.
Photo by Pastor Adam Cutshaw who also pointed out this...
"6 evangelists-green (#3 is difficult to see)
10 interactions-red (#7 is difficult to see)"
And gospel tracts go out.
I've often said, if you want to experience the hatred people have for God, go stand on a street corner and preach the gospel to them and the majority of the time you will find out first hand.
And yet we must remember that but by the grace of God we would be no different, we may not have acted out in hatred the same way as these few examples given but we were just as much at enmity with God as those who vocally or physically make it known.
It is the love of Christ though that compels us to proclaim the gospel to the lost and dying world that they may experience new life as we have received in Christ.
God is good and merciful and I pray that His grace will be given to those mentioned above and the many others which heard the gospel at the Derby this past weekend.
May they be granted salvation in Christ!!
I also want to say a special thank you to all of you who have supported us financially to attend this event, Adam Wright, Seth and Nathaniel Porter and I truly thank you, those who donated to the ministry gave generously and provided our way down and covered the entire cost of our trip this year.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for us while we were out at Churchill Downs preaching the gospel. You were just as much a part of this mission trip to the Kentucky Derby through your prayers.
Continue to pray for all those who heard the gospel, that God would grant them salvation and that He would raise up more brothers to come and preach the gospel at the derby next year.
All glory belongs to the Lord!
by Ricky Gantz