Promise Keepers kicks off eight-city tour
FRESNO – Ron Hooper of Flagstaff, Ariz., said he traveled to Fresno so he could get to know God a little better, something he said would help him become a better husband, father and man.
“It doesn’t come automatic,” he said.
Hooper was among an estimated 4,000 people who worshiped, prayed and listened to the speakers’ messages as Promise Keepers wrapped up its weekend men’s conference at the Save Mart Center.
The June 27-28 event also kicked off Promise Keepers’ eight-city, 2008 conference schedule. Since 1991, the evangelical Christian men’s organization has been urging men to keep their promises and be better men in their homes, workplaces and communities.
“It’s a biblical command,” said Scott Leonard, event co-chairman. “When we start to act like men of God, we will transform our homes, communities and the future for our children, and that’s what it’s about. Servanthood is more important that fame and fortune; it transforms the world.”
Hooper came with others from his congregation, Greenlaw Baptist Church, and Bethel Baptist Church, also in Flagstaff. Despite having attended seven other conferences, he came wanting to again learn.
“I’m always inspired by the speakers,” said Hooper, who has been married for 42 years and has two grown children and six grandchildren. “The main reason is I want to be a better husband and father – and make a difference in people’s lives.”
Hooper, a Sears salesman who also teaches a Bible study at church, said he appreciated the conference’s speakers stressing the importance for men to deepen their faith by reading the Bible so they could share God’s love with others.
“You’ve got to search the scriptures,” he said.
The conference was a stepping stone for Eric Sheppard, of San Jose, who brought his son, Austen, 12, and a nephew, Jordan Collins, 12, of Elk Grove. They were on their way to Hume Lakes Christian Camps near Kings Canyon National Park.
“I thought this would be a great way to get them charged up before spending a week with the Lord,” he said.
Sheppard said it means a great deal for him to always keep his promises, particularly at home.
“I want my son to look up to me and say, ‘He is my dad,”’ Sheppard said.
Craig Mercer, a member of the Fresno-based Riding for Jesus Christian Motorcycle Association, said he was grateful the conference presented video clips with men opening up about past failures and crediting Jesus for helping them.
“It opened my eyes,” said Mercer, who wore a black-leather vest and sleeveless shirt that exposed tattoos.
“I learned there are guys who have been through what I’ve been through,” said Mercer, who said he is a recovering alcoholic. “And I learned a lot have been through even more.”
Some men also had fun at booths with items for sale.
Hooper posed with seven others from the Flagstaff churches for a photo in front of a White House backdrop with President Bush impersonator John Morgan, who also was pitching a book.
Hooper said the photo was going in the church newsletter to “encourage other men to get involved.”