What do you get when you mix oil and evangelism? The answer is: Williston, North Dakota. This area in the northern tier of the United States has been producing 450,000 barrels of oil a day. It has passed Alaska and is second only to Texas. By 2017 this region is projected to pump 1.2 million barrels. People have been traveling from great distances to get jobs even though the winters are brutal. The populations of the local communities are booming. However, people in search of work in this vast oil field are not the only ones who have been heading to North Dakota.
Several individuals and groups are taking advantage of this opportunity to sew the seeds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Members of the Christian Motorcycle Association are holding worship services in the “men camps.” A pastor and his wife from Missouri came to “let people know that God is here and he loves them.” They are helping provide Bibles, shelters, food, gas money, and have even started a “Celebrate Recovery” ministry. Another couple from South Dakota drives around in a converted (no pun intended) RV, with donations of household goods, clothing, blankets, coats, and shoes. Churches in the area are holding Bible study groups and activities for families. While the oil is booming, so is evangelism.
Isn’t this what missions is all about? It is getting out of our comfort zones and going to where the needs and opportunities exist. The pastor from Missouri said, “To be honest, I really didn’t want to be here” where it can get 50 below zero, “…but God wouldn’t leave me alone…I finally gave in…” A man with the Christian Motorcycle Association asked the question: “What’s one soul worth?” The Bible has the answer to that question in Mark 8:36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
The mission field can be North Dakota or some remote part of Africa. The needs are the same. People want to know that they can experience love and forgiveness. They need to know that someone cares. The oil field of North Dakota has become a land of new economic opportunity for many. For some it has provided love, forgiveness, hope, and purpose, to those who have experienced a new beginning through a spiritual rebirth. That spiritual transformation may be happening while sitting beside an oil derrick.