February 20th Posted in: Fellowship of Christian Athletes with No Comments
The prayer line was unlike any I had ever been apart of. Guest speaker Arthur Hawkins had just finished an emotionally-charged message and invited the young people to come forward, those who wanted to either recommit or dedicate their life to Christ. Dozens of students lined up on the front row when ‘Hawk’ asked the adults – teachers, coaches, parents – to line up behind them. I don’t know how long his prayer lasted, probably just minutes, but it seemed like we were lifted outside of time as you could feel the Spirit move and flow as the students stood arm and arm with the adults laying hands from behind. When he ended, I saw multitudes of grown people moved to tears; an FCA huddle sponsor embracing her student captain (both sobbing) as the student said “thank you for believing in me”.
I would describe myself as a guy who typically doesn’t get caught up in the emotion of church. My wife is somebody who sobs when people get baptized and is the first to leap out of her seat hands raised in the air when Spirit-filled, praise & worship hits her heart by way of her ears. Me, I’m more a back row Baptist content to sit on his hands.
But as I sit here with the clock approaching midnight, I can’t shut it down for the night without sharing all of what I saw earlier this evening.
- A church commit their time, money and their resources in cooking a 1,000 hot dogs, while providing bags of chips and bottles of water to serve kids.
- A guest speaker (who grew up in the Jim Crow South with a mother who neglected him and a father he didn’t know) move the crowd by telling us what it was like to find LOVE through Jesus. All the while, directly in front of him sat a young man, also without a father, stayed locked in with laser focus.
12 wonderful students who volunteered to read scripture and give testimony, including:
- A football player – that lost an uncle to an undiagnosed heart condition and later lost a teammate, who lined up right next to him on the offensive line, also to an undiagnosed heart condition – talk about how he learned to give God glory in ALL things.
- A cheerleader learning how to trust God in ALL things despite coming to the realization in middle school that her dad is an alcoholic and not knowing at this point whether or not he’ll be alive to see her graduate.
- A basketball player now standing on his faith who had lost his focus and was once shackled with an ankle bracelet, staring at six months in Juvenile Detention before Jesus rescued him as He did Peter when Peter lost his focus.
- A young scholar who denied Christianity because of science until his own exhaustive research led him to the conclusion that the Bible is the living Word.
- An FCA huddle captain from an area with opportunities all around to be the hands and feet of Jesus in serving the homeless and downtrodden, talk about her calling to volunteer in shelters.
After the prayer line dispersed, we huddled up in groups of eight around the football field for a time of prayer for our schools. I’ve never seen a group of young people so moved. In my group, a girl with a Pink Floyd shirt asked me if she could pray and proceeded to sob uncontrollably in a vulnerable but beautiful way as she bared her soul in front of her friends in asking God to help free her from so many snares that entangle teenagers.
As we dispersed, a young man told me he wanted “to get saved” and I had the opportunity to lead him straight to Christ. I’ll follow up with him tomorrow. For many, including this young man, Fields of Faith is just the beginning of a wonderful journey.
September 30th Posted in: Fellowship of Christian Athletes with No Comments
My early life revolved around sports. Until I hit my teenage years, everything I thought about revolved around the athletes I followed, the sports I watched and the games I played every day until the sun set. I wanted to be a professional football or baseball player. Baseball was my game and my ticket, or so I thought, until the reality of my limitations caught up with me in early adolescence when I, for the first but certainly not the last time, was forced to change direction from my chosen career path. So I can’t imagine walking away voluntarily when being right on the door step of that dream. But that’s exactly what Chris Norman choose to do.
Norman didn’t have the limitations that most of us have athletically which prevent us from going past the high school level. Although never meeting him, I have to think he wanted to be a professional ball player as well. After being heavily recruited in 2008 as one of the top linebackers in the nation, Norman became a three-year starter and team captain at Michigan State University. But, after being projected as a mid to low round pick, with a legitimate shot at a professional career, Norman promptly shocked friends and family in announcing he was forgoing the NFL draft to follow God’s call to attend seminary.
Norman’s story is chronicled in his own words, a highlight reel and video testimony at Desiringgod.org/drafted. According to Norman, his priorities were realigned after he tore an elbow ligament against Alabama in a 2011 bowl game. “A lot of people see this type of lifestyle and they think ‘this is what it means to live’…(but after the injury) I got lost and I realized there must be something more to life than a football
Soon thereafter, he gave his heart to the Lord and although he would fully recover for his final two seasons, a burning desire began to set in for full-time ministry. He is joining the staff at Highland Park Baptist in Southfield, Michigan with the church paying for his seminary education. In a world where our children our bombarded with the wrong cultural messages of what success is and where gratification comes from, Norman’s decision to forego an opportunity of temporal fame and worldly fortune should be a lesson for all of us on when it comes leaving a true legacy.