12 NFL players aid church’s outreach
Combining one of the world’s most renown sporting events with a heart for ministry to the local community, North Phoenix Baptist Church hosted a “Day of Champions” Feb. 2.
The largest Southern Baptist church in the Phoenix area partnered with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to attract more than 500 kids, parents and coaches on the day before the Super Bowl face-off between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.
More than a dozen NFL players shared the stage at North Phoenix Baptist with Christian rap band Grits to underscore how true champions look to the power of Jesus Christ in their lives.
“All of us struggle to do right and avoid wrong in all of our ways,” Arizona Cardinals linebacker Gerald Hays told the kids and adults.
“You have to pick your friends who you want to be associated with and that won’t tarnish your name,” added Oakland Raiders backup quarterback Josh McCown.
Also among players on hand were fellow Raiders backup quarterback Andrew Walter; three Arizona Cardinals — defensive lineman Bertrand Berry and cornerbacks Matt Ware and Michael Adams; and Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison.
Berry, an NFC Pro Bowl selection, said a true champion does the extra work or the most difficult preparation on the field and off.
“You need discipline, dedication and determination in all you do, and that will help you walk the right way,” Berry said.
A true faith, he added, encompasses “what you do when nobody else is around.”
Kennison, an AFC Pro Bowl selection, said true champions of the faith walk with the Lord every day.
“I have to fully commit myself in every situation to this job,” Kennison said, “and then I can come with peace and joy. Every day I can walk with love, peace and joy.”
All NFL players face daily temptations at the Super Bowl and everywhere else they go, Kennison said, noting, “You must tell yourself that whatever temptation you have, you have a choice for God every day.”
The players emphasized that just because they, as Christians, are playing in the NFL, their lives are not problem-free. Several related how they had been cut by previous teams or suffered injuries but had committed their ways unto the Lord.
During a time for questions, the players were asked how they witnessed to their non-Christian teammates about their faith in Jesus.
“In order to evangelize others,” Berry said, “you have to be accessible and show yourself an open player with a consistent prayer life. You need to be doing more right than wrong in front of others.”
“We are just a vessel, a tool,” Walter said. “Some guys may not be interested [in hearing about Jesus], but God will use His time to reach them.”
After the program, the players participated in an autograph session for the kids and Bibles available and spiritual outreach materials from the church were made available.