In the push to reach all Georgians with the gospel, the state’s pastors are thinking and working outside the box.
Take David Wheeler for example. He’s using people’s fascination with old cars as a way to tell them about Jesus.
Nearly 6 million people have tuned in to watch Wheeler and his family restore rusted clunkers on their YouTube program Revstoration. In his discussions about ball joints, brakes, and batteries, he weaves in the Bible.
“We take old, forgotten, abandoned things left for dead and bring them back to life,” said Wheeler, who is typically on screen in worn jeans, boots and greasy T-shirts, trying to get long-abandoned cars and trucks back on the road.
Wheeler’s look on the program is in complete contrast to his typical Sunday morning attire at Porterdale Baptist Church near Covington, where he’s a well-heeled clergyman in a suit jacket, matching slacks, button-down shirt, classy tie, and polished dress shoes.
In both roles, he is seeking to point people to the One who can give them new life.
And it’s working, says David Thrash of McDonough, who surrendered his life to the Lord and was baptized by Wheeler as a result of the program.
Thrash was channel surfing when Wheeler popped up on his TV screen.
“I don’t think that was coincidental or by chance,” Thrash said. “I think it was meant to be. There was just something about him that drew me to him. He's funny. He likes to tell jokes. But if you watch his videos, he has a way of slipping God in.”
Wheeler came to faith as a 12-year-old while helping a Georgia preacher work on a car. Brady Blalock, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Griffin, had asked him to help change a tire. While they worked, Blalock shared the gospel. That was 1992.
Since then, Wheeler has served in ministry roles in Georgia and Alaska, finally settling at Porterdale in 2017. That’s where his father and Revstoration co-host Dennis Wheeler committed his life to Christ.
Wheeler had the privilege of baptizing his father. Now, together, they share their faith to the watching world.
The Wheelers want to show people that Christians are fun-loving people who have a variety of interests, including restoration of old vehicles.
In the three years the program has been on YouTube, at least a half dozen viewers have come to faith in Christ. Those are the ones they know about.
“I have no idea how many people have come to faith who have not contacted us,” Wheeler said. “We’ll probably never know that until we get to heaven.”