The Storyteller Tells a Story of Faith…
Matthew 4:19 “Come follow me, said Jesus, and I will make you fishers of men.” NIV
It’s easy to understand why we fish. Fish are good to eat, and they provide sport and recreation for us. Fishing allows us to be outside in God’s great creation as well. So a fishing derby in the Yellow Breeches Creek at Barnitz provides an opportunity for us to do and enjoy all of those things. But even more than having a good time, this event also offers us a chance to reach others who don’t know the love of Christ.
Eric Woodward (B) noticed the beautiful grounds and creek at Barnitz through participation in some events held there. Eric says, “I had an inspired idea about doing a fishing derby.” Even though the idea didn’t take root immediately, Eric persisted. It would be a lot of work but he was sure with everyone working together, it was possible. After presenting the plan to Barnitz Administrative Council, the Fishing Derby was approved. Eric enlisted the help of his family, father Dan and brothers, Kevin and Andrew (B) and a small army of other volunteers.
Luke 11:9, 10 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” NIV
Eric got to work enlisting help from various community partners. He worked with the PA Fish and Boat Commission to obtain the proper permits for the Derby. He had a contact with Trout Unlimited who helped him obtain the fish from the Green Springs Hatchery. Private businesses partnered with Eric to help pay for supplies and cover the cost of the fish. Additional businesses donated needed items and offered others at discounted prices. Members of the church helped by volunteering their time, baked goods and organization. “We couldn’t have done it without everyone who helped,” says Eric.
Finally, August 6 was here and the Derby began. Seventy-two children came to have a day full of fishing and fun. Eric heard so many nice comments about the event. “Please keep us informed about next year’s Derby – we would love to bring our friends and family,” said one participant. But when one little girl thanked Eric “for catching her fish” and said, “I want to keep it forever,” Eric became teary-eyed. Her joy alone made the day very special, but her thoughts were multiplied many times over.
Luke 5:10b “Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’” NIV
Thanks to Eric’s persistence, he has planted a seed in the community. Only God knows what fruit will result, but one thing is certain, if Eric hadn’t persisted with his idea, there would be no fruit at all.
Personally, Eric said that his own son has asked to come to church. What is more special and rewarding than that? Yes, the Fishing Derby turned out to be fishing for…men!