Wednesday, July 26, 2017

We go to Church at a Car Show

Full Gospel Revival Center, Dinuba, California
Full Gospel Revival Center 50th Celebration and Car Show, Dinuba, California
It’s a good thing for a church to consider what unique strengths and gifts they have and to use those things to reach people.

As a way of celebrating their 50th Anniversary, the Full Gospel Revival Center in Dinuba decided to do something special: they held a Christian Car Show in a downtown park in Dinuba. We drove down to Dinuba on Saturday morning. We and parked our van far from the cars on display because though our 2006 Dodge Caravan, Harold Bijoux, has been very good to us, taking us to 47 of the 50 states last year (you won’t be surprised that we flew rather drove to Hawaii and Alaska, but we flew to Washington State as well), Harold isn’t cool.

The Cruisin’ for Jesus cars were very cool. Here are pictures of a number of cars cooler than ours:

Some of those cars were the work of Central Cal Street and Strip, a shop that does custom car work. Rick, the owner of the shop, was happy to be part of the event along with a couple of other men from the company. (Some of their cars were entered in the competition. Cars were divided into various categories, such as pre and post 1980, and trophies were to be awarded to the winners as the end of the event.)

I saw a Suzuki among the Harley Davidsons. There’s nothing un-American about the Japanese import, of course, and patriotism was on display right from the opening when JR, the pastor of Full Gospel Revival Center, led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. A man tucked a flag into the back of one of the classic trucks. Then MMLJ, the musical act (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) played the Jimi Hendrix version of the National Anthem.

The band’s guitar player, Keith Toms, said that since it was a hot day, they’d be starting out with  surf music, including “Pipeline” and “Wipeout.” He added, “We play old rock, and try to redeem it.”  They played a different version of “Louie, Louie” singing, “We’re all saved, so we get to go.” They said Jimi Hendrix had originally started with “Purple haze, Jesus Saves,” but “the studio didn’t care for it. We’ve restored it to its roots.”

The motorcycles on display were mostly the property of the Sequoia Chapter of Guardians of the Children. There are 25 or 26 chapters of the organization, according to “Bullfrog” (his real name is Jeremiah). He said the purpose of the organization is to protect and mentor at risk kids. Sometimes these are kids that have been abused at home, sometimes kids that have been bullied at school or in their neighborhoods.

The Sequoia branch is just starting up. It’s only three and a half months old, but they’ve already taken three kids under their wings. Just as the member have a cut (club patch) and road name, adopted kids are given the same. I talked to another member with the road name “Wrench” (Tony) who said that his own kids had two teenage friends that had committed suicide because of bullying, and he wanted to be a part of something that could protect kids.

I wandered over to where the hot dogs were grilling. The church was providing lunch to all who came to the event, and I met the pastor of the fellowship, JR. He’s been pastor of the congregation for 26 years; prior to that he was the youth pastor for a couple of years. When he proposed this event to other churches, he was told they couldn’t pull it off -- which made him all the more set on pulling it off. He said the city had been quite cooperative in providing the park for the event.

I asked him more about the Full Gospel Revival Center, He said they were a small group, usually twenty to twenty five people in attendance each week, but it was a committed group. I asked about the group’s strengths, and Pastor JR said their congregation was quite committed to prayer. He said they wanted to have this event in the park to reach out to the community. “If we can reach at least one person, it will have been worth it. If we reach more, it will be a bonus!” I asked JR if there were any unfamiliar faces at the event, and JR noted three young men who had just walked into the park to look at the cars. JR went to speak with them.

I don’t know if one of those three men or the bonus of all three might have been drawn closer to Christ that day. But I appreciate the Full Gospel Revival Center making the effort to go out into the world and present Jesus in creative ways.

Service Length: 3 hours (we were there for 1 hour 30 minutes)
Visitor Treatment: Whenever we approached a booth or person, people were more than willing to engage in conversation
Followup by Tuesday Morning: none
Our Rough Count: 47
Probable Ushers’ Count: 75
Snacks: Water, hot dogs, chips
Musicians: keyboard (man)
Drums (man)
Electric bass (man)
Electric guitar (man))
Songs (all performed by MMLJ): “Star Spangled Banner”
“Louie, Louie”
“Purple Haze”
“All Along the Watchtower”
“The Lord is Coming”
“Open the Eyes of my Heart, Lord” (with The Who-style intro)
“Simple Kind of Man”
“Children of the Future”
“Your Love Never Fails”
"God Shall Wipe away Every Tear"
Distance to Church: 27 miles
Open WiFi: none at the park
Tie/Suit Count: none
Church Website: none