AZLE, Texas – A local pastor brings the light of the gospel to dirt-bike racing. Randall Easter, pastor of First Baptist Church of Briar in Azle, Texas has turned Friday nights at the race tracks into a family fun and ministry event.
"I ride because I like to ride, but we're able to do ministry while we're there," said Easter.
For the past two years, Easter has been both a pastor and a dirt-bike racer; though tending to church is his first priority, Friday nights and other nights that are generally free of responsibilities are spent at the race-track.
Easter became interested in racing soon after he learned that several of his congregational members were ardent Motocross racers; now, he and his family join the Motocross bikers each week at the track.
"We picked up some dirt bikes and started riding so my family and I would have something to do together," Easter said.
The Easter family opens the race-nights with a prayer of “Lord, we’re available,” and sits around a picnic as they preparing for the evening’s events. While Easter and his 8-year old son Caleb ride on the field, his wife of 14 years, Beverly cheers on her family on the sidelines. His daughter Samantha provides “moral support,” while his 2 year old son Joshua opens doors for conversations with other parents.
"He draws people just because of who he is," Easter said.
Before each race, Easter leads a small group in public prayer. Easter recounted the prayer of his son Caleb, seeking the salvation oh his hero – a local dirt bike racer who is not Christian. Recently, his hero joined one of the prayer sessions.
"The guy came to our prayer circle and joined hands with my son in that prayer circle," Easter said, noting that they continue to pray for the man.
Alissa Comer, a member of Easter's church, said she believes that the ministry provides ways to minister to people who might not normally go to church.
"I think it's encouraging to have a pastor who is willing to share his faith in different avenues of ministry," Comer said.
Easter uses the times he’s not racing on the track as opportunities to talk with fellow racers on the sidelines.
"There are literally hundreds of people at the racetrack every week. You build a network of people just by being there for the races," Easter said.
He shared the story of a couple whom he first met at the tracks. Easter was handing out tracts with the church’s contact information after a Motocross practice. Soon afterwards, the couple came to First Baptist and there realized that the Pastor had given them the tract. Now they are active members in both the church and Motocross.
Easter remarked that the most spiritual conversations result from accidents in the field.
"When somebody goes down, we try to get out there on the track with them as quickly as we can, praying," Easter said.
Easter stays close by the injured, offering prayers and messages of hope. He visits patients at the hospital, directly influencing their lives. During his hospital visits, he shares the gospel with the person and his friends and family.
"That's a pretty big impact on folks, and that's something that they will remember," he said.
Easter recounted the time a fellow rider failed to make a jump. "It's one of those jumps that if you don't make it, it's bad," Easter said. "I thought he was dead."
Easter immediately went down to the field to pray for him, and even visited him at the hospital.
"So we ended up in the trauma unit downtown and I got to share the gospel with him and with his girlfriend," Easter said.
Easter, who has also had his share of injuries said that though he does not justify Motocross with evangelism, his ministry should be seen in the light of the New Testament, as going to where the lost are.
By Paulina C.