As a professional fisherman (somebody has to do it) he doesn't just cast a
line for fish. He has another catch in mind.
Chappelear has always enjoyed the outdoors. After graduating from
Southwestern Seminary in 1989 and while serving in a few churches for the next
10 years, he felt a growing burden for those who were out hunting and fishing
on Sunday while he was in church. "How could these people be reached?" was a
question that kept entering his mind.
Outside of his ministerial positions, Chappelear continued as a professional
fisherman on the Bass Master Tour. It was there he started to discover a way to
minister to his partners and teammates.
Tournament fishing is usually done in pairs, and Chappelear would find
himself being led to witness to his partner in the boat. While reeling in the
fish, he was also reaching out to his partner as he shared God's Word with him.
From this grew a ministry that last year became a registered non-profit
Chappelear left his church position and pursued Sportsmen's Outreach full
time. He became a Mission Service Corps member and trusts God to provide
financially through churches, individuals, speaking engagements and sponsors,
such as Ranger Boats.
So far the Lord has continued to provide support for Chappelear, his wife,
Donna, their daughter, Hannah, and a new baby on the way.
Often Chappelear is a link in the chain in people's lives, but other times
the Lord uses him as a harvester. A man named Barry was an example of someone
who had excuses week after week to skip church. During the third day of a
fishing tournament, Barry found himself with Chappelear in a boat. Chappelear
felt compelled to share the gospel with him, and--right there in the bass
boat--Barry became a Christian.
Sportsmen's Outreach uses some ingenious ways to share the gospel, including
devotional meetings and personal evangelism during tournaments, mission camps,
Brotherhood camps, youth conferences, mission days at churches, Outreach
Fishing Seminars (where Chappelear shares with others how to reach fishermen
for Christ) and wild game banquets.
"I get to stand in my boat and tell them about Christ," he said. "I tell
them, 'You've seen what I fish with, but this is what I live by,' and I hold up
my Bible and tell them my testimony. I talk about hunting and fishing, then
share about priorities and give an invitation. This is how we reach guys who
hunt and fish but don't show up on Sunday at 11 a.m."
More than 120 decisions for Christ were made in 1998 through the banquets.
Keen fishermen who are Christians are given tickets and are sent out to sell
and fill their banquet table with unbelievers. The banquets are often full, and
men are drawn because of the excitement of listening to a professional
fisherman. He shares about fishing and then at the end presents the gospel. The
message is relevant and meets the men where they are.
Wives are appreciative. One wrote to Chappelear: "Thank you for sharing with
my husband in the boat during your last tournament. I have been praying for him
for 36 years. You made a deep impression on him. Thank you so much for being
serious about your faith, and for touching my husband's life."
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC