Christian Business Show Draws 8,500 : Event Presents a Variety of Church-Oriented Products, Services

Times Staff Writer

Anyone from ages 7 to 969 can play Reginald Rutherford's new Christian board game.

Called "The Walk," the game is simple enough for children but interesting enough for those as old as the biblical patriarch, Methuselah.

At least that's what the genial Rutherford, 33, was telling interested spectators at the second annual Christian Business Show, held at the Orange County Fairgrounds last weekend.

About 8,500 people attended this year's show, which featured 175 exhibitors. Local auto dealers, investment firms, computer companies and chiropractors were among those represented. Last year's show was also held at the Orange County Fairgrounds and attracted about 120 exhibitors and 5,000 spectators, according to Jim Humphrey, president of He Is Risen Ministries, sponsor of the show.

The Christian Business Show got its start about four years ago, Humphrey said, after he heard about a similar event in Tulsa, Okla. He now stages the shows in Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and Atlanta, as well as in Southern California.

Rutherford's booth alone was indicative of the variety of products exhibited at the show. Along with the game, which has players draw cards with Bible verses, his other merchandise included an "Always Time for Jesus" clock and a "Bible Names for Baby" book. Rutherford also owns a private investigation service in Los Angeles.

The concept of Christian businesses "wasn't that prevalent 10 years ago," Humphrey said.

Instead, people would go to church on Sunday and to their jobs the rest of the week, while keeping the two areas separate. But now the trend is for Christians to show that "Jesus is the Lord of their business also," Humphrey said.

Humphrey said he chose Orange County for the Southern California Christian Business Show because it seemed to have more Christian businesses than Los Angeles County, as indicated by the size of its Christian Business and Professional Directory.

The Orange County edition of the directory has more than 350 advertisers, publisher Richard Fouquette said. The booklet is distributed free through 1,110 locations in Orange County, and Fouquette estimated that more than 1,000 were given out at the show, adding to the more than 100,000 copies already in circulation. Many of the advertisements feature the ichthus, or fish emblem, that traditionally symbolizes Christ.

Fouquette said he started the directory in 1968 because there was a need for a referral service for businesses that were reputable and service-oriented, although he pointed out that such qualities are not limited to Christian businesses. However, he said that all listings in the directory were checked to ensure that the business owners are active in their churches, which he believes makes them more likely to operate in an honest manner.

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