A Close Connection

     How do you connect with Christ?  Perhaps the better question is, how do you share your faith with others?  Personally, I feel closest to God when I’m surrounded by His creation.  Likewise, Oklahoma native, Brad Clay, finds that sharing his devotion to Jesus Christ through his passion of hunting is an effective way to reach those who want to take their faith to the next level.  
     Final Descent Outdoors, Clay’s nationally televised hunting show, offers inspiration to help those striving to reach that next level of faith.  The show’s title is based on Mark 13 which states that “no one knows the day or hour of the Lords return, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  Clay feels that we must be on guard and alert because no one knows when Christ is going to make his final descent.
     Growing up in the small, western Oklahoma town of Reydon, where the closest Wal-Mart was 55 miles away, hunting and fishing was a way of life for Clay.  He lost his father to leukemia at the age of six which would later play a role in his personal ministry.  After his father’s death, his family moved to Allen, Okla. which is where his faith journey began and, where he surrendered to the ministry.  After graduating from Allen High School he served as a part time youth pastor at the Allen First Baptist Church.  He also attended ECU where he played football.  He suffered a football injury and transferred to Southeastern in Durant Okla.  While in Durant, he served as the youth pastor at Silo Baptist Church, which is where he met his wife April.  April and Brad moved to Sulphur where Brad served at the First Baptist Church until a year ago.  Little did Clay know that God’s plan for him would eventually provide a national platform for him to share both his passion for hunting and devotion to God.
     Clay never had any intentions of starting an outdoor TV show, but what started out as an outreach program for his young adult Sunday school class ended up as such.  Clay and other men from the class were looking for a way to continue their fellowship on Sunday afternoons while their wives were shopping or going out to eat.  A friend of Clay’s from the First Baptist Church in Durant suggested the group put together a 30 minute hunting show for their local cable channel.  For the next six years, Clay admittedly made some really bad television, but over time the show improved.  When asked why he decided to start a show in the first place, Clay had this to say.
     “We want to reach men that are needing the gospel.  We feel that it is our obligation to use the passion that God has given us to share the scripture with others.  We saw the chance to share our dedication with the hunting show that aired on the First Baptist Church channel.  By ending each show with a devotion, we were both entertaining and enriching our viewers.  When the show improved it was picked up by KWHB TV 47 in Tulsa.  It ran there for a year.  Through mutual friends and sponsors we decided to contact the Pursuit Channel to take it nationally, which is where the show is today.  I went full time with Final Descent a little over a year ago.  The decision to do so wasn’t easy.  I let God lead me through the whole process, and I truly feel this is what He wants me to do,” Clay stated.
     Final Descent is more than a TV show.  It’s a living ministry that Clay performs through lectures and other engaging mediums.  This month he is releasing a DVD titled “Predator”,  which is a six week bible study for outdoorsmen.  Predator is one way Clay is
reaching the male audience.  He noted there is a lack of devotional material in Christian book stores for men, and even more so for outdoorsmen.  He also hosts outdoor kids’ camps which is very important to him due to the loss of his own father at such a young age.  The kids camps continue to grow every year.  This September 78 kids met in Sulphur to do everything from shooting guns and bows, to learning about tree stand safety.  He finds these camps are a great way to reach kids who might not have the opportunities to do such things.
     “We take Final Descent day by day.  It is ever changing.  The main thing is we are obedient to God.  If that means the show continues, then so be it,” Clay said.
     When people are seen on television it’s often thought they must be wealthy, but not so with Final Descent.  The truth is of the eight pro staff and ten field staff members, Clay is the only full time member.  It is comprised of everyday guys such as school teachers and salesmen.  The other two owners Jason Charter and Mark Hudson, have additional jobs like laying floor and training horses.  Perhaps this is why they relate to their audience so well:  They are average guys doing what average guys love to do.  When we watch outdoor television it looks easy, but there is more to it than pushing the record button and shooting an animal.  Final Descent
creates a story that is both meaningful and entertaining to their good ol’ boy audience.  The long hours of field work and travel that yield only minutes of video ultimately help create the story and ending devotionals.  Just as Clay lets God lead his life he lets the footage lead the episodes’ devotional material at the end of every episode.
     Obviously Clay loves hunting.  When asked, he stated that if it’s in season, he would like to shoot it.  When asked what it means to be a Christian, Clay said this.
     For me I believe there is a difference in a believer and a disciple.  I want to be a disciple of Christ.  There are definitely times when I fail, but I learn and continue to give all my glory to God.  On the day of judgement I want to be able to stand in front of God and know I was a faithful servant.  I want to earn that title,” Clay proclaimed.
     Clay has dedicated the majority of his life to God and the outdoors.  The relationship between the two really have no beginning or end and are more than a close connection.  I’ve been in a tree stand while the moon was setting and the sun was rising, and thought to myself, only God could create such beauty.  It’s times like this, and Final Descent, which fuel a closer connection with God.
     Be sure to tune in to Final Descent on the Pursuit Channel.  See it July through December; Sundays at 5 p.m., Mondays at 8 a.m., or Thursdays at 3 p.m.

A close connection was published in the 2013 issue of Great Plains living the official magazine of Great Plains Kubota

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