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Have Jeep Will Preach


Have Jeep, Will Preach

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People have heard of motorcycle chaplains, team chaplains, and possibly even those who minister at rodeos. But Leighton O’Connor has identified another group of spirited individuals to minister to, only these individuals are tied together by the vehicle they use on their backcountry adventures — they’re called Jeepers.

O’Connor, an AG minister who volunteers at Calvary Christian Church in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, and refers to himself as “Jeep Pastor,” has recently set out on a 200-day, 30-city Mission for Hope, Homelessness Awareness ministry tour of the country.

The 15,418-mile trip, which began in June, will take him across the country, through Chicago and over to Denver, then up into Alaska, back down the West Coast to San Diego, across the Southwest to Dallas, then over and down to Miami, and finishing up with stops along the East Coast all the way to Maine before return home.

Where he can, O’Connor is partnering with local Jeep and off road clubs in each city he has targeted. He makes the contacts in advance so that on Saturdays he and the club can meet and then provide for the destitute and homeless in the club’s community. If there are no clubs, he simply does the outreach on his own.

“We give out hygiene kits, blankets, food, fruit, baked good, water and other items, including clothing,” O’Connor explains. “Volunteers from Calvary Christian ship 50 hygiene kits to each city I’m stopping at along the way as I couldn’t carry all those supplies with me.”

O’Connor explains that part of his road trip mission is to meet with the homeless and those who work with the homeless to learn what is helping the homeless, and what is not. Then, he’ll take this first-hand research back home and work to create programs that effectively minimize homelessness.

But while the Jeepers and O’Connor are working together in communities to provide help to those in poverty, O’Connor is also consciously building relationships and meeting the spiritual needs of Jeepers.

“I've started the Christian Jeep Association, modeled after the Christian Motorcycle Association,” O’Connor explains. “The Jeep clubs I am meeting and working with are intentionally not Christian clubs. When people find out I’m a minister, some ask for prayer, but I work to share the love of Christ and the gospel with them whenever possible.”

“Part of our missions statement is reaching the lost through missions and evangelism,” states Jamie Booth, executive pastor at Calvary Christian Church. “God has called Leighton to live that out, so his trip is in keeping with who we are.”

Booth explains that the church does a lot of outreach, especially in providing food for the homeless and needy in their area. He hopes that through O’Connor’s experiences they’ll be able to glean insights to improving their ministry to those in need.

O’Connor’s goal at each of his 30-city stops is to touch at least 200 lives. So far, having had stops in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Denver he’s exceeding his goal.

Of course, O’Connor’s Jeep does tend to catch the eye of other Jeepers. In addition to the roof rack and obligatory mounted winch on the front, the two-door forest green Wrangler is also decked out with a 100-watt amplifier, 12-channel sound mixer, cordless microphones, and more — not to mention two batteries under the hood to power all the electronics.

“The true Jeep community typically take their fun to places where electricity is not easily accessible,” O’Connor explains. “So, if I were speaking or praying over a gathering, the equipment enables me to be heard.” It also comes in handy for inner-city distributions . . . and, he adds with a laugh, “sharing his love” for Christian music with others as he’s headed down the street or highway.

Originally O’Connor planned to sleep in the backwoods and set up meetings with Jeep clubs from there, but he has adjusted his plans, noting there aren’t a lot of people in the deep woods.

“Now I’m using campgrounds so I can meet people and share the gospel,” he says.

Currently the outreach efforts are doing well, but O’Connor says he still needs to locate more Jeep clubs in specific cities to help with the Saturday outreaches as well as hopefully partnering with some more churches to share his ministry.

Some of the cities he is still needing partners in include Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami.

“I’ve created a card to give to people that includes the Sinner’s Prayer, my websites, and a website link to where people can find the closest AG church,” O’Connor says. “So, even after I’m long gone, the Holy Spirit can use that card to continue His work.”

Booth believes O’Connor is the right person for this effort due to his passion for the lost and his ability to follow through, as evidenced by him putting the entire trip together on his own, including making all the contacts and raising all the funds he needed.

“Leighton has our full support,” Booth says. “We love him and we’re excited to see how God uses him — the doors He opens for him — on this trip and after it.”

To view the Jeep Pastor’s complete travel schedule or find contact information, see his Mission for Hope website. To keep read about his ministry travels, follow his Facebook page.

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