Demand is high in the Permian Basin.
Demand for oilfield hands. Demand for drivers. Demand for housing. Demand to staff restaurants, businesses and schools to keep up with the oil boom that’s brought in thousands to work and created wealth like no one has seen in decades.
What’s been overlooked in the booms and busts of Midland/Odessa — until this year — is the demand for God.
For the first time in the decades of the Permian Basin International Oil Show, Christians embarked on spreading the gospel to the locals and the world travelers who came to Odessa. They gave out 7,000 Bibles and more than 200 men said they would commit their lives to Christ.
“The world has been brought to us,” Jesse Gore said, who ministers at First Baptist Church.
The plan for PBIOS started more than 18 months ago when First Baptist was joined by four other churches (Living Word Baptist Church, Sherwood Baptist Church, Mission Dorado Baptist Church and Kingston Avenue Baptist Church) to plan a citywide effort outreach. The vision of bringing God to the oil show really lit the fire under the group.
“I personally got pretty excited,” Gore said. Someone made the statement, “We have to embrace it, or we have to run from it. It’s one of the two. I think we finally came to a consensus.”
With their branded event “Fracture 2014,” they were ready to go.
They set up shop in a booth across from the Ector County Coliseum at 45th Street and Andrews Highway. A Bible that is actually geared toward men who work in the oilfield (with testimonies of oilfield workers, called “God’s Word for the Oil Patch: Fuel for the Soul”) was handed out to 7,000 people. They served food to 1,500 and nearly 600 people watched an evangelism video.
“I’ve been here all my life and been going to the oil shows since a young boy, and I have never seen this. It’s definitely a first,” Gore said. “It was very successful, and it really dovetailed beautifully.”
They worked in conjunction with Oilfield Christian Fellowship, an organization started in 1991 that’s spread to Canada, Colorado, Oklahoma, and has since established a chapter in Midland/Odessa.
“There’s a lot of guys out there right now moving into the area, looking for work and for answers to life’s problems. This is a much better answer than a lot they’re going to find,” said Chad Terry, a member of Oilfield Christian Fellowship who heads of communications for the chapter.
The Bible has “real power and knowledge, rather than looking to the bar scene for an answer…” he said. “That’s the thing, is there are so many people migrating here, looking for something, and this is a great alternative to what they could be finding.”
Now with the wind at his back from the success at the oil show in October, Gore is hitting the pavement. With a pair of barbecue tongs in one hand and a Bible in the other, he’s becoming the area’s Pastor of Oilfield Ministries, via First Baptist Church where he’s been a pastor for about four years.
Just as poetically did they think up Fracture 2014, Gore’s new pastor theme is “BOOM: Basin Oilfield On Mission.”
He handed out his new BOOM cards and has already heard great response from oilfield companies who want him at their man camps to share how Jesus has changed his life.
The job to reach oilfield workers — what with more than 2 million barrels of oil being produced a day in Texas — is a full-time gig. It’s structured so Gore will go out and cook for the camps, run a safety meeting and talk about Jesus to any who will listen.
“So many of these workers are coming from different locations in the country and many are leaving their homes and their church homes,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to see some of these many, many different newcomers to Odessa and getting them plugged in and letting them know about God.”
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