Circleville Nazarene, Circleville, OH
I want to share how God used something as simple as a basketball to change my life forever.
This story starts about 15 years ago, when I was semi-involved at a church in Alabama. I had always felt a call to ministry in some form, but up until to that point I had never really been able to surrender to and serve God completely. I was a Christian on the outside, but so lost within.
I served in the children’s and youth ministries every now and then, and was also a player and coach on the men’s softball and basketball teams at our church. As basketball season approached one year, I placed a phone call to the church league director asking when the season would officially begin. What he said next changed my life completely.
"David," he said to me, "we have decided that we’re not doing adult sports any longer – we have seen more Kingdom growth come out of a new kid’s program called Upward Basketball."
I said, "What?! You’ve got to be kidding me! Where am I going to show off my long-range jumper?!"
I couldn’t understand what the guy was saying – no men’s league? So I got on the Internet and looked up "Upward." As soon as I clicked on the page, God spoke to me as clearly as He ever has, and this is what He said: "David, your passion is basketball and working with children; I want you to take that ball and use it to teach the children about My love for them."
I couldn’t sleep that night. I knew that THIS was what God wanted me to do – He lit a passion under me. There were issues and divides within our church over the use and availability of our facilities, but God is always able to do more than we could ever imagine, and He provided all the necessary opportunities.
Another problem: we had no players! And so I felt nudged by God to head out into some of the rougher, drug-infested areas of our city, looking for kids who loved basketball and needed Jesus. At the end of the year, I saw many of the kids - and some of the parents, too – from the very worst parts of town give their hearts to Jesus!
God DID it. He took a guy who was unsure of his fit in ministry, gave that guy a basketball, and used it to make a difference. After that first season, the pastor asked me to come on staff as his Recreation Director, and eventually I was led into full-time children’s ministry. Now, fifteen years later, I’ve been blessed to go from Alabama to Ohio, using something I love – a simple basketball – to share the love of Jesus with children and their families.