Helping the Disabled Experience Christ Through the Outdoors
by Mark Hunter
Sometimes God uses something small, like a drill bit, to create something as big as the great outdoors to bless hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Trinity Outdoors Disabled Adventures, “was a vision given to me by God seven years ago,” said Jason Bland. But it took a lot of pain and suffering, and the loss of his right leg below the knee for God to get his attention.
Bland, who grew up near Gramercy, La., hunting, fishing, and playing high school and college football, was living for himself a decade ago, drinking hard liquor and smoking meth. He’d already ruined his first marriage and lost custody of his two children when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Lafayette. When doctors repaired his broken leg, they left a drill bit behind.
For seven months he battled anxiety, depression and worst of all – infections. When they saw the drill bit on an X-ray, his infected leg was amputated. He now gets around on a stainless-steel, articulated prosthesis.
“I knew God was working on my life – I know now he was transforming me from a big bully to a child of His with a soft heart,” Bland said. Following the amputation he met a Christian woman, now his second wife, who helped him find Christ.
In November, 2009, he was praying for guidance for a ministry to help disabled people get out into the woods when, he said, “God told me, ‘name it Trinity Outdoors. Help people and bless them.’”
They started out by taking wounded veterans and disabled children on hog and deer hunts throughout Louisiana, Texas, and a half-dozen other states at no charge.
“What we try to do is bless them through the outdoors,” Bland said. “The outdoors is our church.”
They are now expanding the ministry to include recovering alcoholics and addicts, as well as children who don’t have a father in their life. “They’re disabled but in a different way,” Bland said.
Some of the men and women they’ve served have since joined the non-denominational, non-profit ministry, and they are getting calls from outside Louisiana to start other local chapters. “We are being obedient to God and are being blessed.”
Matthew Matherne, 37, is the group’s secretary-treasurer and has been involved ever since he went on a deer hunt with the group three years ago. In April 2006, he was driving drunk when he wrecked his truck and broke his back. He is now paralyzed from the waist down.
“I have only myself to blame and plan on using the rest of my time here on earth to right my wrongs and do everything I can for the Lord,” Matherne said. Married with three children, Matherne often sits with the kids in the blind.
“It is a life changing experience,” Matherne said. “In 2014, we met girl and her parents at a show at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center. She has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and is in a wheelchair. She had always wanted to go hunting but never had the opportunity or the means because of limited use of her arms.”
“We have equipment to hold the gun and when we showed her how it worked her eyes lit up,” he said. “Last year at a Texas hunt – when she shot her deer – everybody in the stand was crying and hugging.”
“It changes not only how you see your life but how you see other people,” Matherne said. “Something as simple as harvesting a deer or a hog or some ducks or catching some fish – to see the joy on their faces and see how much it means to them changes you.”
Gerard Credeur, 39, is the group’s cook. He is disabled from a 2007 oil rig accident that broke his back in four places. The injury still affects his walk. Like Bland, he’d been living a wild life of partying, drugs and booze before Christ transformed him.
“Matt (Matherne) came to my house, introduced me to Jason, and I got involved and it’s now two years of being sober,” Credeur said. “If you keep your faith in the Lord, the Lord will bless you many times.”
You can support Trinity Outdoors at its upcoming fundraiser:
3RD ANNUAL TRINITY OUTDOORS BASS CLASSIC
March 12, 2016
Lamar Dixon Expo Center
The event will also feature:
* CLYDE CARAWAY “REVELATION” CAR SHOW
* “UNCLE BOGA” JAMBALAYA & PASTALAYA COOK OFF
* HOOKED ON FISHING EXTRAVAGANZA for kids
For more information visit Trinity’s website: www.trinitydisabledadventures.com