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2002 PE Report stories

Congregations demonstrate weekly prayer yields results (December 30, 2001)

L.A. Dream Center, Angelus Temple make history, reach more with merge (December 16, 2001)

Rain, gang doesn't halt impact of newly formed congregation (December 9, 2001)

Women urged to minister hope at global gathering (November 25, 2001)

Volunteers meet needs at Pentagon cleanup (November 18, 2001)

Fear, uncertainty open window of opportunity for evangelism (November 11, 2001)

'Jump for Jesus' raises $40,000 for STL (October 21, 2001)

Widows, single mothers gain practical blessings (October 14, 2001)

Five new executive presbyters elected (September 30, 2001)

Credit card 'freedoms' tempt college students (September 16, 2001)

Fellowship, nation show ethnic makeup changes (August 26, 2001)

Congregations extend a hand, spread gospel after tropical storm (August 19, 2001)

Single-parent families find hope at camp (August 12, 2001) caught in middle of culture war (July 22, 2001)

Pentecostal World Conference looks toward future cooperation (July 13, 2001)

Crossover Community Church ministers to hip-hop culture (July 8, 2001)

Prison chaplain hooked on ministry (June 24, 2001)

National Singles team convenes, plans regional conferences (June 17, 2001)

Children's ministries take center stage (June 10, 2001)

U.S. Christians trek to Israel despite news reports of danger (May 27, 2001)

A/G ministries combat eating disorders (May 20, 2001)

Mobilizing laity leads to church growth (May 13, 2001)

Fellowship convenes conference for women (April 29, 2001)

14,547 'honored guests' attend Convoy of Hope outreach in Dallas (April 22, 2001)

Hollywood sends wrong signals on teen smoking (April 15, 2001)

Iowa community faces unique challenges (April 8, 2001)

Churches support ministries to lead youth out of lifestyle (March 25, 2001)

English lessons reach Chinese with gospel (March 18, 2001)

A/G church, police, schools partner for strong community (March 11, 2001)

Church uses 'human hunt' as evangelism tool for teens (February 25, 2001)

Ministering in the fast lane (February 18, 2001)

Abstinence education saves lives, futures (February 11, 2001)

Donated food helps Convoy of Hope extend hand around the world (January 21, 2001)

American Indian College students impact boarding school (January 14, 2001)

2000 News Digest stories

Ministering in the fast lane

(February 18, 2001)

The grandstands at Dover Downs International Speedway in Delaware are packed with nearly 145,000 anxious fans waiting for the MBNA 400 NASCAR race to begin. Minutes before the green flag drops and the 36 competitors maneuver into the starting grid, Dan Schafer, pastor of Calvary A/G in Hightstown, N.J., steps to the infield podium. Facing a sea of bowed heads he offers a prayer of thanksgiving and God’s protection for the drivers, officials and fans. Loudspeakers blast his voice throughout the one-mile track. Schafer has been doing this at Dover Downs since 1991 because, as he says, "It creates an open door for Christ to be presented."

Dan Schafer gives the race invocation.

In the racing world driv-ers and their crews are a close-knit subculture leading a nomadic, hectic lifestyle. Fiercely competitive, they live on the edge facing death or crippling injuries in every race. Their high-performance V-8 cars roar like rockets around banked turns hitting speeds approaching 160 mph. But all the glamour, big-money payoffs, lucrative endorsements and adulation of fans do not bring peace. Loneliness, family problems, fear and temptation go along for the ride.

Because many races are held on Sundays, many involved in the racing world cannot attend a traditional church. Yet the Holy Spirit is drawing them into the Kingdom. "They are open to the gospel," says Dale Beaver, touring chaplain with Motor Racing Outreach, a specialized evangelistic ministry. "There is a deep need for God in their lives."

Schafer’s racing ministry began in 1982 after he witnessed a tragic accident at a speedway. "The driver was killed right in front of us," he recalls. "As a pastor I sat in the bleachers and was moved by the fact people didn’t know what to say or do."

Challenged to meet a need, he offered to serve as chaplain of a local speedway in New Jersey. When the owner agreed, Schafer and his wife, Ruth Ann, launched an outreach to those involved in motor sports. Schafer was also able to use his photography skills to shoot action photos at races for trade newspapers and magazines. As a member of the Eastern Motor Sports Press Association he is welcomed at national speedways.

During last year’s racing season Schafer ministered regularly at three New Jersey tracks on Friday nights and Saturdays. Along with invocations, he leads chapel services, prays with drivers and fans, conducts funerals and shares the gospel individually. When a driver is injured, Schafer rides along in an ambulance to a hospital. Schaffer is accepted by the racing community and enjoys access to the pits and the garage where the cars are prepped before a race. "We felt the best way to reach these people was to build a bridge of friendship," he says.

Building trust took time. His first chapel service incited jeers from drivers telling him to go home.

But Schafer persisted. Calvary A/G sponsors a Racers Sunday every Easter when the speedways are closed. Race cars are displayed in the church parking lot. Drivers and crews from drag, stock car and quarter midget races eat a hearty buffet breakfast, receive trophies and hear the gospel. "It’s a Kingdom-building ministry," he says. The event attracted 138 visitors last year.

— Peter K. Johnson
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