The list began with his brother and then some of his motorcycle buddies. By the time the Festival began, he had 23 names. By the time it ended, four of the people on his list had accepted Christ.
Coghlan, a Wendy’s franchisee and part owner of a Harley-Davidson dealership in Binghamton, N.Y., was so excited about Operation Andrew that he decided to sponsor a motorcycle ride in conjunction with the Festival. On Sunday, just before the last Festival service began, about 500 cyclists converged on the grounds of a closed car lot to hear contemporary Christian singers and a word from Franklin Graham, who himself rode up to the platform on a Harley.
The ride was an opportunity for Christians to invite their unsaved rider friends to hear the Gospel. For Coghlan, it was a chance to tell his friends he was praying for them–a different approach than many Christians take with the Operation Andrew prayer card.
“I tell people what Operation Andrew is,” he says. “I tell them they’re on my list and that being on my list means that I really care for them, that God really cares for them and that I’m committing to pray for them every day for the rest of my life or their life. I tell them they should let me know if they’ve accepted Christ so I can change my prayer.”
If people know you are praying for their salvation, Coghlan says, it might soften their heart a little.
Several people actually asked to be placed on Coghlan’s list.
“One of the local businessmen who helped us with the ride came into my office one day. This guy has lived a hard and fast life, but he was so enthusiastic about the ride. I said to him, ‘There’s a reason you’re here.’”
Coghlan told him about Operation Andrew.
“He said, ‘I probably need to be on a list like that.’ Another guy just came out and asked, ‘Can I be on that list?’ He came to the Festival with me and accepted Christ.”
Coghlan didn’t depend on chance to talk to people about his prayer list. He sought them out. “I have one married couple on my list, and I visited the husband before the Festival. I said, ‘We haven’t had much time to talk, but you need to know something. I’ve been praying for you and your wife. I don’t know where you are in your faith, but I’m pretty sure you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior.’”
Some conversations were challenging. One man told him, “I know all about salvation. I’ve accepted the call twice.” But then he started asking questions like, “If God is out there, why is there war?”
New at the concept of sharing his faith, Coghlan didn’t know how to respond.
“In the end, we agreed that the conversation was not over, that we would talk again. My part of the bargain was that I won’t talk about it until he’s ready.”
Coghlan gave the man a Bible with his name engraved on the cover. “I asked him to leave the Bible out on the night stand or on the coffee table so that every time he sees it he will be reminded that I care about him and am praying for him.”
The Bible was a large-print edition to ensure the man will still be able to read it if he accepts Christ when he is older. “I don’t know when he’ll make a decision,” Coghlan says. “It could be now or 10 years from now.”
Coghlan continues to pray for people on his Operation Andrew prayer list even though the Festival is over.
“This is for life,” he says. “Why would you ever want to stop?”