GORDO, Ala. (BP)—A couple of years ago, Terry Billings saw his old truck sitting in the field, weeds growing up through it. Then he heard God’s instruction—to take that old truck and make something new out of it.
“At that point, it was worthless,” Billings said.
He had spent a lot of years in that truck going mudding and drinking out in the country. He’d lived a lot of his life far from the shadows of any church, except maybe to some weddings and funerals.
But when his son accepted Christ as Savior, the boy invited his dad to attend his baptism.
“I figured that was a good dad move to go see my son get baptized,” he said. “I went, and it was kind of nice to be there. But by 1 o’clock, I was drinking again.”
The next Sunday, his son invited him back, and Billings went.
“I’d kind of enjoyed getting dressed up that last Sunday,” he said.
A third Sunday rolled around, and Billings went to church again.
“I left after church that day, and my plan was to go back to the restaurant and chill out and drink for the rest of the day,” said Billings, who ran Billy’s BBQ in Gordo, Ala. “But boy, did God have something waiting for me—at Walmart.”
As he walked the aisles of the store, he said he felt the conviction of God press on his heart.
“All of a sudden, I felt so visible, like everything I’d ever done was so visible,” Billings said. “His eyes were on me. I tell everyone I had a Damascus Road experience that day, but it was a blue light special—I got saved right there in Walmart at 45 years old. And my life has never been the same.”
Traded mudding and drinking for preaching
He gets choked up talking about it. When God’s light broke through his darkness, he parked the old farm truck and traded his mudding and drinking for a pastorate.
For six years now, he has served at Forest Baptist Church, Gordo, in Pickens Baptist Association—a church that’s been among some of the top in Alabama for baptisms in recent years.
God made something new out of him, Billings said. And as he looked at that old truck that day, he knew God had plans for it too.
“God gave me this vision to reach out to people who are getting ignored—the good ol’ boys. I’ve always been one of them,” Billings said. “I was an alcoholic, and God reached out and touched me. If he hadn’t and if people hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been saved. So there’s nowhere that’s too far for me to go to reach them.”
He towed that old truck out and began the process of rebuilding the whole thing, to be used for God’s glory and to help others meet Jesus. He recruited some friends to help. And as he stepped out on faith, God provided donations for the rebuild.
“Over two years, God provided $100,000,” he said. “When people heard what we wanted to do, they just kept writing us checks. People from California, Florida, Tennessee—they would stop in at the restaurant and leave us with a donation for the truck.”
And so the Heaven Bound Mud Bogger was born—a massive truck with a picture of a cross on the side and verses about finding eternal life in Jesus. On the tailgate it says, “Covered in mud, but washed in the blood.”
It turns heads everywhere it goes.
Once the truck had new life, Billings and his ministry partners formed a nonprofit ministry, and they take the truck to parades and events to share the gospel. They set up tents, share tracts and then connect with the local Baptist association so they can do follow up.
“We’re booked almost every weekend from now to Christmas,” he said.
But even if they weren’t, attracting people would be no problem.
“Every time I stop anywhere, everybody in the gas station or Dollar General unloads and goes out to look at it. Then I get to tell them my story and what Jesus did for me,” Billings said. “All it takes is a trip to Hardee’s, and we have church.”
Reaching a different segment of people
Sammy Gilbreath, director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said Billings’ ministry is an “incredible way to reach a different segment of people.”
“Early on in our ministry in the evangelism office, we began to push event evangelism,” Gilbreath said. “People raised their eyebrows when they thought about motorcycle ministry.”
But now motorcycle ministry is huge, and later the same thing happened with horse whisperer events, he said.
“Mud bogging is a classic example. It becomes a great evangelistic tool reaching into a segment of our culture that is not being touched by any other phase of evangelism,” Gilbreath said. “I’m thrilled Terry is doing it. I think it will draw attention and spark ideas and creativity for other people too, and that can cause a domino effect.”
Billings said he’s grateful, but no one is more surprised than him at how God has directed his path.
“This old truck I had, it probably wasn’t worth $100,” he said. “But it’s amazing when you give something to God, what he can do. We’re just in awe.”