USA (MNN) — On the first Saturday of May, thousands of fans in thte United States are expected to flood into Louisville's Churchill Downs to watch the Kentucky Derby. The Derby has a long history of drawing both the great and the small; the Queen of England made an appearance at the 2007 Derby.
Sports Fan Outreach International (SFOI) uses "Derby weekend" as an opportunity for evangelism. When the FEI World Equestrian Games visit downtown Louisville next year, SFOI hopes to use that opportunity for outreach as well.
"The Derby is sort of the centerpiece, the center event of horseracing," said SFOI's Bill Adams. SFOI outreach teams interact with large crowds passing by a main intersection near Churchill Downs. Teams share Jesus with pedestrians to a mixed response: "Some people are inquisitive, some are mocking, and we see everything in-between."
Because of the atmosphere, Adams says, the ministry is limited in the outreach techniques it can use. He says that their outreach mainly consists of talking with people and handing out tracts.
"It's really noisy; there's a lot of drinking, and it can get really rowdy," said Adams. "The first couple of hours are pretty easy, but by 10:00, the drinking sets in, and the idolatry of it sets in. It gets to be a very hard time."
SFOI ministry will take place on May 1 and 2 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. These ministries are scheduled to coincide with the running of both the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and a smaller stakes race called the Kentucky Oaks on Friday.
"Pray for our sanctification before we get there," Adams requests. "Pray that God would open the ears and eyes of people to hear the Gospel."
If you live in the Louisville area, find out how you can be involved by clicking here.
In fall 2010, Louisville will host the FEI World Equestrian Games, drawing more horse fans to the city. Adams predicts that thousands of people will visit downtown Lexington for the Games, and that the area "should be a prime location for evangelizing."