Pastor Shares How Sports Reach Created Opportunities He Never Deemed Possible

Faith and Athletics+Featured+News & Events // June 21, 2020 //

Michael Jackson had several opportunities that paved his path for a future in ministry. One of the biggest lessons he learned at an early age was the applications of family and faith. 

Jackson’s childhood was centered around the idea of family and faith, as he became a believer at the age of six. He grew up in a Christian home, where he was expected to attend church every Sunday no matter where he was the night before. His Sundays were filled with fellowship and time spent with family. He attended dinners at his grandparent’s house after every church service.

Jackson realized at an early age that family and faith have always been the core values in his household. For him, these two principles are the key to understanding ministry.

Jackson currently pastors Uttingertown Missionary Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Although he’s blessed to be located in Central Kentucky, he has always believed in the power of spreading the gospel in the prisons.

In the early stages of his ministry, Jackson was partnered with a non-profit organization that worked in the prisons teaching a program dealing with substance abuse. During his time in the prisons, he taught about fatherhood, family and relationships, and job readiness. His heart has always gravitated towards this passion because of his own past, finding freedom from substance abuse in Christ.

In 2011, during his prison ministry, Jackson was playing competitive softball when he was approached by Robby Speer where the two had an “unforgettable conversation.”

Speer said to Jackson, “Hey Preacher man! Let me talk to you for a minute!”

From there, Speer asked Jackson if he would like to go to the prisons, play softball, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Even though Speer had said, “I want you to really pray about it,” without hesitation, Jackson wholeheartedly took a step of faith and knew that those were three passions he wanted to pursue.

“I don’t have to think about it, just sign me up,” he recalled saying.

From there, Jackson got in touch with Coach Hardy at Campbellsville University where he became involved with the football team. Since getting connected with Speer, Hardy, and the team, Jackson has gone every year to the prisons with some of the football players to share the gospel with the inmates.

Over the years, through prison ministry, he has developed the calling God has placed on his life.

“No trip is ever the same. Each trip for me is life-changing. I use this trip to expand ministry, but also to ask God what he would want me to do next in ministry.”

Jackson realizes that he is one of the oldest to go on the trip, at the age of forty, and a lot of the guys look up to him.  He’s had the privilege to baptize a couple of his students, and mentor them because of this ministry. For him, “it’s life-changing and things are happening in ministry that I never thought could happen through Sports Reach.”

During his first trip with Sports Reach, Jackson reflected on two impactful moments while he was away.

Because of his felony conviction in 2001 for trafficking of marijuana, he never dreamed that he would be allowed to go into the prisons because of his background.

“Every year I’ve gone, I always wonder if this will be the year that they’re going to say I can’t come to the prison,” he said, “That has never happened.”

Jackson shares that even though the rules and regulations deem he’s unable to go into the prisons, has always been let in. That is a testament in and of itself that God is good!

“As an individual who has a significant drug charge on his record, and then be able to walk into a maximum security prison and share my story of being a convicted drug felon: looking at fifteen years in prison, but only getting off with probation; it’s so awesome to be that individual who can tell them that they can turn their life around!”

For Jackson there was another life altering moment in the prison when he saw a son, a father, and a grandfather all in prison at the same time.  It completely changed his outlook on the prison system.

Jackson looks forward to seeing “ah hah” moments with the plan of salvation. He shares the salvation story with inmates who have never heard it from guys like him. He gets to witness seeing them break down for Christ and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior which is life changing for him.

It’s Jacksons hope that not only are the people inside of the prisons getting to witness his testimony of mercy and grace by God, but also the students that go with him.

He is beyond blessed that his church truly supports him in this ministry. His church has not only helped with funding him to go, but they also help fund the college students who attend the trip.

Jackson truly believes that Sports Reach is achieving goals by meeting needs and planting seeds.

“You have to see it for yourself. To bring sports into a prison and to see the longevity that Sports Reach has had in ministry, is a testimony and a testament in itself. There is fruit being produced from the labor.”

Jackson wants to encourage other leaders and students who are thinking about or are already involved with prison ministries to continue pushing forward and planting seeds.

“Go in with a smile, because most of the time you are the only visitor they will get all year.”

He believes that having an open mind and not going in with a spirit of judgement is a game changer for these trips. He wants to reassure others that the way the people in the prison perceive you is also how they are perceiving Christ through you. Brothers and sisters in Christ need to learn to create family with those around them and having faith that the work will prevail in due time, all for God’s Glory.

Sports Reach wants to personally thank Pastor Michael Jackson, his family, and his church for being supportive of this ministry, and helping to plant seeds and change hearts for Christ all over the world, no matter the location.

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