The Journey to Sports Reach

Faith and Athletics+Featured+News & Events // December 2, 2019 //

Who Woulda Thunk?

As fall slowly moved into winter in 1985, things in my life seemed all settled in place. I was loving serving at Daniel Memorial Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., as Minister of Youth and Activities. Drew was turning three in December, Jan and I had bought our first house, all while thinking about our second little one coming in a few months. Life seemed to be moving along just fine.

Then came 1986, and our lives went into a whirlwind tour.

Who Woulda Thunk?

Here enters some new names and places that God would use to change our lives forever. Roger McCurry was the Minister of Activities at Severns Valley Baptist Church (SVBC). He had been wrestling about a move to a church in Huntsville, Ala. Roger has been there for a long time and was a guy that I had always called “friend.”

Then there is Larry Pursiful. Larry was a former All-SEC basketball player at the University of Kentucky in 1962. He was a former high school basketball coach who was running a couple of shoe stores with his wife, Priscilla. He also worked closely with Roger as Chairman of the Activities Committee. As God was stirring Rogers’s heart about relocating, Larry began a battle with what God might want him to do next.

While Roger and Larry were dealing with what God had next, I was thinking about needing a babysitter for two, real soon.

Who Woulda Thunk?

The dominoes then began to fall, and they did so quickly. It was late January, Roger was off to Alabama, and Larry became the Interim Minister of Activities. Now, I get a phone call from Dr. Howard Cobble, Pastor, asking if I would be interested in moving back to Kentucky. I was honored and intrigued by this possibility. After all, it was moving back home, just doing activities, and it came with a little pay raise. Why would I not? I began to realize that the youth and this church were deeply embedded in my heart. I fought tooth and nail to say no. I tried and tried to say no to God! But finally, I knew I must go.

Who Woulda Thunk?

In February, we went back to Kentucky. I quickly fell in love with the people there. It was a good situation because God had used Roger and Larry to set the table for new things he had planned for the church. For those of you who know me, you know my mind was swirling around with all the possibilities. We got a new house, and Robbilyn was born in March. I was in a learning and building mode with this new job. New opportunities were under every rock, and I kept looking for the ones to turn over.

A new normal was setting in, as normal as things can be with two under three and in a new home!

I exhaled a little for the first time in a while.

Oops!

Who Woulda Thunk?

Kentucky Baptist had begun a mission partnership with Kenya. There were a lot of excited people around the state about this opportunity. Larry Pursiful was one and went in June on a preaching mission. The trip was a little different for him, but a thrilling new step. A little thought jumped into my head. I asked him to see if they would like to have a basketball team come next summer.

I was at the softball field when Larry returned home a couple of weeks later. I remembered, he seemed to be pretty excited as he hurriedly approached the ball field.  I went over and asked him if they wanted a team. He said, “They did, and wanted them in a couple of months. And wanted us to stay a while, while there!” 

He told them we would come for two weeks next year.

Who Woulda Thunk?

It’s late summer, and we are busy putting this trip together. We were both newbies at making a trip of this magnitude. So we started working. But as we did, God gave us the thought to start a ministry called the Kentucky Baptist Sports Crusaders. I was involved with a group from Texas with a similar name. We were praying, and both felt that Larry would be the Director, and I could give him “all the wealth of wisdom that my 29-year-old mind had!” Which was not much. I would help him find a part-time church and began to help raise money for him as a part-time Director. I look back and think, “How was I gonna help do this?” No clue, but we just stepped out, trusting God and excited for Larry leading this ministry.

As we were adding a player here and there, we had a small group committed. But we knew we were going to have to be a lot better. We were looking for 12 Baptist players that lived in Kentucky. It wasn’t easy.

Then God threw a big, roundhouse, curveball that we never saw coming. We thought we had this thing all figured out. Then God calls Larry to a full-time Minister of Activities position. What would we do now? Who would lead this new ministry?

Who Woulda Thunk?

I think we both thought we would focus on the trip, and put the other stuff on the back burner. However, 1987 rolled in, and the trip was coming along a little better but still not quite there.

Larry was doing a great job at Carlisle, and things were okay for me. 

We finally got our team together, and we headed off to Kenya in June. It was a great group and an awesome trip. We went 11-1 and had over 600 people indicate decisions for Christ. But during the trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen next. I was honestly a little nervous about what God might ask!

Late in the summer, I began to sense God’s call that “It’s you!” He was calling me to lead this, but I had no clue what, when, or how to do this. How could I leave SVBC with nothing coming in?

I was able to lead a great bible study on YOU stepping out of faith. I could show you how to trust Jesus and walk on water like Peter did. Even though I felt I did trust Him, this was a way more significant step to take, and we just kept praying. 

Just after the trip, DrBill Day, who was the Pastor of DeHaven Memorial Baptist in LaGrange, KY, and I had talked about some of the direction he saw his church taking. In September, they extended a call for me to come as a part-time Minister of Activities. It was a part-time job, but it was something, and they were all aboard on me doing the Sports Crusaders ministry. 

It was a door God opened with special folks in it. We realized it couldn’t just be Baptists from Kentucky. 

We also made a one-day softball trip to the prison to see how softball would work. It went well, and we started to plan an April softball mission trip in 1988.

Who Woulda Thunk?

So 33 years later, here we are. I could have never dreamed of this. I am sitting in Ft Myers, watching my 6th game in two days. While sitting courtside, I’ve had a call from a missionary in another country about coming over, worked on some basketball trips, did some ordering for summer softball, I’m planning when to meet with more basketball players, and writing this article.

I am so grateful for all God has done, is doing and will do! God’s Glory.

Note: There have been so many people that have been involved with us throughout the years. The side stories are numerous. I want to thank everyone that has been used by God, through Sports Reach, in any way.

Just keep praying. He’s not done yet!

Who Woulda Thunk?

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