Like many retirees, you can find James Shepherd, 84, fishing in his boat several days each week. But he’s set apart from many other retirees by what he’s fishing for.
When he and a friend bought a pontoon boat four years ago, he sensed the Lord saying, “Why don’t you fish for men off this?” So Shepherd made signs that said, “Get in the boat — Bible study” and “worship on the water.” Then he launched a ministry of taking people for rides on the Cumberland River and sharing the Gospel with them.
Over the past four years, Shepherd’s Clarksville, Tenn., ministry has seen 43 people profess faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“It’s God’s ministry,” said Shepherd, who has pastored four Tennessee Baptist churches and done itinerant evangelism. “All I’m trying to do is orchestrate what God wants to do with it.”
On a typical day of ministry, Bro. Shep — as everyone calls him — docks his boat and has friends come aboard to play Christian music on their instruments. As interested passersby gather, he offers them rides and shares a lesson from Scripture during the ride. Preacher friends sometimes volunteer to speak during the boat rides, and laymen volunteer to give their testimonies.
Riders often receive cold water from Shepherd. Sometimes he even orders pizza for them.
The ministry is funded through donations from individuals and churches.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press, David Roach