By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Western and Blue Ridge Associations and the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware are partnering with Potomac Highlands, Conemaugh Valley, Monongahela and Tri-County Associations; the West Virginia and the Pennsylvania/South Jersey Conventions and the North American Mission Board to sponsor a new raceway ministry outreach. “Race With the King,” on May 3, is expected to draw NASCAR fans from near and far to the Allegany County fairgrounds to meet racing personalities, check out cars, take pictures in car cut-outs, listen to bands, eat lots of food and win NASCAR related prizes.
The family-friendly event starts at 11 a.m. with a worship service.Racing personalities from the three top series are expected to participate, sharing how God has changed their lives and how that change has affected them on and off the track.
Mark Joseph, pastor of Canaan Valley Church and a NAMB resort missionary for the Canaan Valley area, is the coordinator of the outreach. Joseph was a director of innovative ministries for the Kansas/Nebraska convention around the time the Kansas speedway was being built and began working to start a Kansas City Alliance Raceway Ministries there. When he came to West Virginia in 2005, he brought his race ministry background with him and saw the potential for the West Virginia/western Maryland area.
Joseph began talking to associations and conventions to get support and was pleased that everyone embraced the idea. And he knew all about the legendary enthusiasm of racing fans.
“Racing people go anywhere there’s racing or where there’s anything to do with racing,” Joseph said. While many won’t listen to just anyone share about Christ, they will listen to Christian racers, Joseph said, emphasizing that there will be opportunities to make decisions for Christ and there is a follow up plan with participating churches to contact new believers and those who are seeking help.
Everything is free throughout the day except for food, which will be provided by local concession businesses.
Kenny Heath, Western Association director of missions, is excited about the new venture and believes it will be a big hit with race lovers.
“We have many in this area who routinely make the trips to tracks in Dover, Richmond, Bristol and other semi-nearby locations,” Heath said. Those folks, he believes, will appreciate getting a taste of raceway life closer to home while offering new ministry outreach opportunities.
Bruce Conley, Blue Ridge Association director of missions, agrees with Heath. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel in a exciting setting,” Conley said.