By CRISTIN REECE
To commune with nature is to be closer to God — that’s the spirit the organizers of the upcoming Surrendered Sportsmen Outdoor Expo hope to spread.
The banquet-style expo starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Palestine Civic Center, 1819 W. Spring St. Tickets will be available at the door and are $10 per person, which includes dinner. Kids ages 10 and under get in free.
“We had a great time last year — about 500 people came last year,” said Cole Hoskison, executive director of Surrendered Sportsmen. “And this year’s going to be quite a bit bigger.”
Hoskison said in addition to dinner, the expo also features giveaways with an outdoors theme, including hunting rifles; local vendor booths; and an auction for seven different hunting excursions.
“We just want to have a good time and share the Gospel with people who love the outdoors as much as we do,” Hoskison said.
According to the organization’s website, Surrendered Sportsmen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization “dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ through the gift of the outdoors. We also work to develop relationships with local churches in order to provide discipleship opportunities for those who make decisions for Christ at the events.”
Hoskison explains the origins of Surrendered Sportsmen in a letter published on the organization’s website.
“At a young age, my father took the time to introduce my brother and me to the outdoors,” his letter states. “Some of my fondest memories come from those early days chasing whitetails and fishing in east Texas. That time in His creation assured me that there is a God, but at that point I had only a reverence for Him, and no relationship with Him. God was drawing me closer to Him through every sunrise spent watching the woods come alive.
“Psalm 19:1 says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of His hands.’ My heart was ready for the relationship, but I needed to actually hear the gospel!
“Shortly before graduating from high school, a good friend shared the gospel and led me to Christ,” the letter continues. “As I spent my college years hunting and fishing as often as possible, I felt that God was calling me to begin to lead others to Him through the outdoors. While attending an evangelism conference He gave me the name Surrendered Sportsmen, and the ministry was formed. With the help of many friends, family and a wonderful board of directors, Surrendered Sportsmen stands as a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ through the gift of the outdoors.”
Visit Surrendered Sportsmen on the internet at www.surrenderedsportsmen.com.