NASCAR, Prayer and an Inmate-Turned-Worship Leader

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When they step away from the roar of the engines, the hairpin turns and the adrenaline-fueled competition, you might be surprised at how NASCAR drivers spend their spare time.

Furniture Row Racing's Regan Smith will be driving the #78 National Day of Prayer car at Talladega Superspeedway this coming weekend.

"The Furniture Row racing team has been great in sponsoring a National Day of Prayer car since 2006," said chairperson Shirley Dobson in a recent interview. "We are grateful to the owner, Barney Visser, his fantastic team and his driver Regan Smith. We hope to continue that relationship through the years."

Richard Andrew, who leads worship for NASCAR in conjunction with the ministry Motor Racing Outreach, says prayer is always a focus in the drivers' chapel services--and MRO chaplains will do the opening prayer for each of this weekend's races.

Worship and prayer. Prayer and worship. Twin foundations for men who risk death each time they pull onto the track--and Andrew would know. The singer/songwriter who was named the 2010 CMA (Christian Music Awards) Independent Artist of the Year spends a lot of time in and out of the pit stop with NASCAR drivers.

In fact, Andrew teamed up with Blake Koch, Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse, Josh Wise and Mike McDowell--and RRT chaplains Ginger and Dennis Sanders--during the Texas tornado outreach.

Sharing his memories of that experience, Andrew said, "My first interaction with the teams from the Rapid Response Team and Samaritan's Purse was at home base. As they shared why they were there, I could see how kind and generous they were. The volunteers have an obvious passion to help people in need. They walk with people in their darkest hour. They truly are the hands and feet of Jesus."

When he was working alongside Ginger and Denny Sanders, Andrew met 83-year-old Jay, the man the RRT chaplains had been encouraging for several days.

"On Saturday, when we gave him a Bible with handwritten notes from the volunteers, the RRT chaplains and all the NASCAR drivers, Jay broke down and cried and received Jesus into his life right then.

"Ginger and Denny are so compassionate," Andrew added. "You can just see the love of Jesus in them."

The love of Jesus is one of Andrew's favorite topics: "It's at the heart of my story," he explained.

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SOURCE: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association