Published September 18, 2014
POWDER SPRINGS — Glenn Chappelear is a member of Burnt Hickory Baptist Church in Power Springs and part of the North American Mission Board’s Mission Service Corps.
He is primarily known for his Sportsmen’s Outreach, a ministry which God has used to touch the hearts of countless men with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Chappelear is a man’s man. He was a defensive back for the Clemson University football team in 1982-85, is an avid hunter, and a noted angler with the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW Tour) and the Everstart Trail.
He is also a devoted minister of the Gospel. Chappelear made his public profession of faith in Christ as a 12-year-old boy and was called into the ministry at age 18.
At Clemson he became the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and God began to open up doors for him to share his faith. Upon graduating from Clemson he pursued his theological education at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.
With the team
Chappelear continues to maintain a busy schedule with his professional fishing tour and speaking engagements. He speaks at about 15 Sportsmen’s Dinners each year, but he also devotes a significant amount of his time as a volunteer chaplain for the Cobb County Police Department.
Chappelear commented, “I have about 100 officers I work with at the West Cobb station near Lost Mountain Recreational Park. Sometimes I cook them breakfast. We do cookouts together. Not long ago I took them a watermelon and other foods. My wife, Donna, and I lead them in marriage conferences. I try to meet with them every week to pray with them, provide encouragement, and show them Christ’s love.”
Not all chaplains get involved with the Viper (Violent Incident Prevention and Early Response) units, Narcotics, and the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, but Chappelear does.
In fact, when the SWAT Team was alerted to a problem at the FedEx Building, which is a 450,000 square-foot package and delivery facility in Kennesaw, before sunrise on April 29 Chappelear received the same text message that other members of the Team received.
“Amidst all the armored personnel carriers and brave public servants fully clothed in their SWAT gear with their automatic weapons I paused to pray for them,” explains Chappelear. “I always pray especially for the first man who will go through the door, because I know he is the one most vulnerable.”
Authorities learned that a 19-year-old employee of FedEx went on a shooting rampage, wounding six people before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.
There were 140 FedEx workers relegated to a nearby hangar at McCollum Field (airport) for safety purposes. Chappelear went to the hangar to talk to the people there to calm their fears, meet their needs, and provide assurance that they were safe.
Once law enforcement officers had stabilized the situation Chappelear was dispatched along with another chaplain, Scotty Davis, pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Acworth, to go see the shooter’s mother.
Chappelear stated, “She was by herself and very distraught. We stayed with her for about 90 minutes trying to minister to her and then I prayed with her.”
As a police chaplain for Cobb County, Chappelear has gone through training sessions with the officers and been on the scene for drug busts and prostitution stings and proclaims, “I love being the chaplain for these guys.”
Chappelear has a regular Bible study called The Barn for the police officers, stating, “We often have as many as 50 or 60 involved in the Bible study with half of them being police officers. I don’t think there are many preachers who have a congregation with half of the members carrying guns.”
A need to invest
Captain T.R. Alexander, who coordinates the chaplaincy program for the Cobb Country Police, commented, “Glenn has been very involved with the police department. He has spent a lot of time with the police personnel and his concern and care has helped them with the struggles they face. His ministry has meant a lot of all of us.”
Statistics reveal that the U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, but almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. Chappelear saw a need to invest some of his time in a ministry to prisoners and has worked with Prison Fellowship (the organization founded by Chuck Colson) and Forgiven Ministry, a unique organization designed to meet the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of the children of inmates, the inmates themselves, ex-inmates, and their families.
Chappelear exclaimed, “The expected result of this ministry is to heal the wounds inflicted by crime, redirecting lives and helping those who have been incarcerated to once again become productive citizens, parents, and family members.
“It seems that when I have an opportunity to speak in these prisons the men connect with me, because most of them have fished or hunted in their past. I usually get the biggest inmate in the crowd to come onto the stage with me and I perform my casting tricks on him and that gets everyone’s attention.
“I am permitted to preach the Gospel and I have seen many of the inmates come to faith in Christ. This facet of my ministry is extremely fulfilling.”
Chappelear has now expanded his ministry into the school system. He recalled an experience he had speaking to the student body at Durham Middle School in Acworth, saying, “There were 1,200 students at the assembly.
“I took my truck, boat, and the check I had received from my last tournament to the school. I asked the students if they would like to have the things I had brought with me to the school. One got in the truck, another got in the boat, and another one held my check in his hand. Then I reminded them that all those possessions were possible because of my education.”
Chappelear continued, “I make my living through my fishing tournaments and I have to know how much gas my boat will hold and how many miles I get to the gallon and how far I will have to travel in a day’s fishing experience. I have to know how to effectively weigh my fish down to the very ounce. I have to carefully navigate with the help of my GPS. I had to learn math in school in order to do all that calculating.
“I also had to do well in English and English Literature, because do you think companies would give me a boat or truck if I couldn’t speak properly and effectively represent their company?”
Hooking fish and souls
Chappelear concluded, “I talk about the importance of a good education and the importance of making wise choices – that life has consequences and that I have chosen to have faith in God.”
Many churches in Georgia know Chappelear as a professional fisherman and a goodly number of them have had him speak to their men at a wild game or sportsman dinner.
He emphasized, “These events are great evangelistic tools for churches; and I am available to coach churches on how to plan these wild game dinners. They are entirely different from church homecomings, because the purpose is not to reach those who have a history with the church, but those who have no church identification and no relationship with Christ.”
Chappelear’s interests are not confined to the spiritual needs in America. There are needs on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico that have captured Chappelear’s heart. He stated, “I believe God has given me the southern Baja Peninsula. I have taken people with me to minister to the people there. We set up eye clinics, host Bible studies, build churches, and conduct Vacation Bible Schools. The people are incredibly receptive.
“One man came to our eye clinic and we gave him a Bible, because we have them read the Bible to determine exactly the pair of glasses that best suits their needs. One man started to read the Bible out loud. When he got his glasses he continued to read the Word of God and left our clinic reading that Bible out loud. It is just an illustration of how hungry the people there are for Holy Scriptures.
“No one refuses the tracts and the Bibles we distribute in southern Baja. We use the weeks of VBS as launching pads to begin new churches. The response there has been marvelous.”
Glenn Chappelear is a professional angler and knows how to hook both fish and souls. He has a multiplicity of interests, but he has a single-minded passion – to honor Christ with his life and witness.
For more information about Chappelear go to www.SportsmensOutreach.org.
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