By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
DOVER, Del.—Homemade cookies can open doors. Ask Delaware Association Raceway Ministry Director Jim McBride or his son, Jim McBride, Jr. They’ve been delivering BCM/D church-made chocolate chip and sugar cookies (and many other varieties) for 18 years and they know how God can work in those little tasty morsels.
The McBrides have been ministering at the Delaware NASCAR races since Jim, Jr., made the suggestion to begin the ministry as he and his dad were driving by the track. Since that time, they’ve been giving away those famous homemade cookies, serving up hot breakfasts, sharing at chapel services, coordinating mission teams and leading volunteers as they do clown ministry, face painting, leading worship and giving out Christian literature and Bibles.
Though impact is hard to quantify, both McBrides are adamant about God’s hand moving at the racetrack.
“Sometimes it’s immediate, sometimes months, sometimes it’s years later,” McBride,Jr. said, but people are being led to Christ and seeds are being planted. Fans stop and chat with volunteers about problems in their families; they ask for prayer; they attend chapel; and the Holy Spirit moves in their hearts. Often people share their experiences in person or they write letters.
Much of the ministry is building relationships through being there year after year.
McBride, Jr., a member of Greensboro Church, acknowledges that most of the ministry is seed-planting in a fertile field. That field got moved recently. Four years ago, race officials moved the ministry area to facilitate track needs. Rather than being just outside the main entrance, the outreach tent was moved to the campgrounds.
“That’s a good thing,” Jim McBride, Sr., said.
His son agrees. “We wanted to serve the fans, to go where they are and they’re in the campgrounds,” McBride, Jr. said. There are two ministry areas now. One is the largest campground on site and campers tend to be more of a heavy “partying” bunch. The second, smaller area is near the day parking area and close to a smaller family-friendly camp. The change did take some ministry transition requiring different styles of ministry.
“It’s like having two different churches ten miles apart, in different neighborhoods,” McBride, Jr. said. “It makes for some interesting dynamics.”
Two Delaware Association churches are providing leadership at each site. McBride, Jr., is heading up a Greensboro Church team that oversees work at the larger site, and Greg Weigel leads an Ogletown Church team to minister at the smaller, family-friendly area.
The volunteers at the larger lot camp overnight, making themselves available for needs as they arise. As one of their outreaches, they do a coffeehouse ministry as opposed to a chapel service.
“We offer a free hot breakfast, and as people come in to sit down, we have someone with a guitar singing contemporary country type music and he might share his testimony. We also have volunteers sitting around tables talking and looking for opportunities to share the Gospel,” McBride, Jr., said.
They also have a cook out on the Friday after the races, a barbecue after Saturday races and a big Sunday breakfast.
Both sites still give away Bibles and other literature, they use ministry groups and do children’s outreach and they give away cookies. They also both use a variety of means to attract people to their sites–clowns, movies, race cars and horseshoes.
“We do anything we can to bring people to the site to let them see that we’re normal people and they don’t need to be scared of us,” McBride laughed.
Some of the campers came to McBride, Jr., and said they could use something salty, explaining that the alcohol was drying them out. McBride’s team bought a popcorn machine. The campers loved it. Recently, vandals broke into the tent and stole the machine, coolers, food, lights and other supplies. The campers were furious that someone would steal from “the church” and they put their money together to replace the popcorn machine.
“We’ve been able to build relationships because we get to know them instead of just asking them if they know Jesus and if not tell them they’re going to hell,” McBride, Jr., said.
The other ministry area, run by Ogletown Church and led by Greg Weigel, works differently. They set up tables and hand out tracts, Bibles and cookies to those who go past them.
“We really stress getting the Gospel message into their hands,” Weigel said.
They also pray with fans who come with personal, family and other needs and many do, Weigel shared. Both groups need more volunteers. “If your church or youth group has a puppet ministry and the flexibility to work outside, we’d love to have you. We can use juggling, magic, anything like that. We need people to help put up posters, hand out flyers, cook, serve, be at the tent to speak with fans, give away Bibles and literature,” McBride, Jr., said, adding that he’s always had a vision of having enough people to come weeks before the race to prayer walk around the area. But there has never been enough volunteers.
There’s also a shortage of cookies. McBride, Jr., said they’re getting half the number of cookies they used to and they’re running out by Saturday at lunch time and that’s before the busiest time on Saturday afternoons. The May race is also the first time the ministry has come up short on funding and didn’t have enough to cover expenses.
AMPLIFY YOUR IMPACT
Perhaps your church or small group can help this ministry. Here’s how: Talk to Jim McBride, Sr., about how your church can minister at the raceway this September. Ask God to provide good weather for the event. Rain keeps people away from the ministry tent. Pray that God will send volunteers and resources to keep this ministry alive and vibrant and that He will bless the efforts of the ministry and open doors of opportunity to plant, water, and harvest seeds for Kingdom growth.
If God puts it on your heart to donate to this ministry, you may send contributions to the Delaware Association at: 967 North State Street, Dover, Del. 19901-3902. For cookie instructions, call (302) 741-2488.