Crossroads Baptist Church held their latest “God’s Great Outdoors Ministries” event April 24-25 at Lake Oconee. In an effort to share God’s word in the great outdoors, they hosted “Jugging For Jesus,” a youth catfish jugging trip, where 30 kids caught more than 400 catfish.
“The success of this jugging trip was absolutely incredible,” said Scott Doster, Crossroads associate pastor. “We cleaned fish for five straight hours on Saturday morning. It was evident that God had His hand all over this event.”
God’s Great Outdoors Ministries targets youth and allows Crossroads, located just east of Eatonton, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while using hunting and fishing as a platform to do it.
For “Jugging For Jesus,” Scott was one of nine adults who volunteered their boat, equipment and time to take kids jugging. “Jugs” can consist of anything from empty plastic drink bottles or milk jugs to cut-up swimming-noodle floats. Juggers tie fishing line, hook, and cut or live bait to the jug and then drop the entire rig in the lake. Several hours later juggers return in hopes of finding a bobbing jug, an indicator a fish has taken the bait.
Scott captained his son, Bud, 9, and nephew, Brice Gibbs, 15.
“We had several cats in the 15-lb class,” said Scott.
Their biggest fish was a 15.9-lb. flathead, the heaviest catfish weighed from the event.
“We certainly weren’t the only boat to load a cooler,” said Scott. “There were several cats in that 12- to 15-lb. range, and I don’t know how many 5- to 8-pounders they brought in. Everyone seemed to do real well, and considering it was most of these kids first time jugging, it was a giant success. They’ll go out and talk about how much fun they had fishing and camping. We’ve already heard several stories about kids asking their parents if they can come to church, kids who don’t attend church now. That’s what this entire outdoor ministry is about, getting kids to church where they can learn about Christ.”
During “Jugging For Jesus,” Johnny Griffith, former youth leader at Crossroads and current staff member at Victory Baptist Church in Milledgeville, shared God’s word from John 21:15-17 while standing around a campfire of kids just after dark on Friday evening. After Johnny’s message, kids strapped on life jackets and went to check their jugs, which had been put out several hours earlier.
Mark Hulsey and Glynn Leverett took out Luke Leverett, 12, and Austin Burner, 13. They stayed out until 2:30 a.m. chasing down a jug they never did get their hands on.
“We’d get right next to it, and it’d go out of sight and then come up 75 yards away,” said Glynn. “It was probably one of those 30- or 40-lb. flatheads. We never could get our hands on it, and it was gone by the next morning.”
Despite a very late night, kids were back on the water at daylight to make their final jug checks.
“I just couldn’t wait until the next morning to see what was on the jugs,” said Shelby Reed, 17.
Shelby made the trip from Winder to participate in “Jugging For Jesus.” She was on a boat with six other girls, captained by Josh Youmans and Wes Lingold.
“They were great mentors,” said Shelby. “They kept it safe while keeping it fun. I caught the biggest fish on our boat, but we all worked at throwing the jugs out. It was just my turn to pick that one up.”
The weekend’s estimated 600 pounds of fish certainly didn’t go to waste. Crossroads held a fish fry on Sunday evening, April 26.
“We fed 220 folks and still had half the fish left,” said Scott. “We’re not sure what we’re going to do with the other half of the fish, but we realize it’s a gift from God to use as a way to bring glory to Him. We have discussed using the rest of the fish as a fund-raiser for God’s Great Outdoors Ministry. We may sell plates of fried catfish, coleslaw, beans and hush puppies to build a little income for this ministry.”
God’s Great Outdoors Ministries has several future events in the planning stages, including an early June trip to the north Georgia mountains for “Summer Trout Fest.” Crossroads will also be hosting a youth deer hunt this fall.
“We haven’t announced a weekend for the deer hunt, but we’ll likely do it on one of the first few weekends of firearms season,” said Scott. “Right now we’re looking for landowners and hunting clubs willing to step forward and donate stands big enough to accompany an adult and a child.”
More information on God’s Great Outdoors Ministries is on the Crossroads website, <www.crossroads-baptist.org>. You can also call the Crossroads church office at (706) 485-0059 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.