Football season is right around the corner. While the headlines are unfortunately filled with athletes recognized for their misconduct, there are also several athletes making a positive impact on and off the field. They give back to the community and are an example of using their platform as an athlete to share their faith. One athlete that is vocal about sharing his faith is Darrell Stuckey. We interviewed Stuckey in 2015 and talked with him about how he came to know Christ.
Stuckey reflects on how Fellowship of Christian Athletes played a role in his faith.
“In the spring, [in high school] I had committed to FCA camp and had even gotten a scholarship to go, so I didn’t have to pay, because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. It was at William Jewell College in Kansas City, Missouri, and it overlapped with the Kansas University football camp in Lawrence, Kansas. So I asked, “How much does it cost to come to the KU camp for one day?” And the coach said, “One day?! What are you talking about?” I said, “Coach, I already committed to go to another camp.” And at first they thought it was another football camp. And I said, “It’s the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Camp.” And he said, “Leadership camp huh? Well I guess if we’ve got you for one day, we’ve got you for one day.” Luckily that first day is when they do all the testing anyway. And that day I ended up tweaking my hamstring and getting hurt. So I head to FCA camp mad and heavy-hearted. I had no idea God was breaking me down to build me up stronger.”
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” 1 Timothy 4:8-9
Stuckey shares how he rededicated his life to Christ.
“Then I started thinking about all I’ve done in my life and accomplished and I thought about how I play a sport that, in any given play, it could be my last. In football, you put your faith in the person trying to tackle you or trying to block you, [believing] that they will play the game the right way and not try to take a cheap shot. You can hurt anybody at any time and use your body as a weapon if you don’t play the right way. Sometimes I play with, or against, a complete stranger which means I’m letting a complete stranger hold my life in their hands. And God said, “How foolish of you to think you live without any faith.” You may just be directing it the wrong way. That [camp experience] is where I rededicated my life fully and I say that is when I took control of my relationship with God and gave up control at the same time. You have to take control first and decide, “I’m going to do this.” And then give it up and be submissive. That all happened on a Thursday, and Friday when my mom picked me up from camp I got in the car and she looked at me and said, “KU wants to offer you a full ride scholarship.” This was in June, before my senior year even started.”
Host a fifth quarter outreach. Whether it is the high school football game or you enjoy cheering your favorite professional team on, consider doing an outreach with one of the football games. It can be at your house, a community center, or even the church. Ask your small group, local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), pastor or friends if they want to help you organize it. Invite friends, teammates and neighbors over after the game. Play a couple games so that everyone can get to know one another. Serve football-themed snacks and then invite everyone to listen to someone share their faith story. If you know a former football player, ask them to share their faith story. Afterwards, invite people to learn more about a relationship with Christ. Follow up with people to see if they would like to go to church with you too.
Be a cheerleader. You don’t have to put on a skirt or wave pom poms to be a cheerleader. Each of us has people in our life that we can encourage. It might be a family member, friend, classmate or co-worker. Take time this week to cheer someone on. Write them a note letting them know what their friendship means to you or an example of something they did that impacted you. Instead of gossiping about a person, spread “positive rumors,” about someone. If you see someone doing something that stands out, tell them they are doing a good job. Our words have power and potential to bring life to others or to tear them down. We have the responsibility to choose daily how we are going to use them.
Coach someone to victory. Think about the people in your life that took time and invested in you. It could have been a coach, youth pastor, teacher, mentor or friend. God has placed people in your life that He wants you to be an example to and help them in their faith. You don’t have to have it “all together.” You just have to be willing to share your life with them, your victories, your failures and what you learned along the way. Pray and ask God to show you someone in your life that could use a spiritual mentor. There may be a mentor program at your church or ministry that can connect you with someone too. Reflect on the things people passed on to you and how you can do the same.
To read our entire interview with Darrell Stuckey, click here.