Several years ago there was an unusual high school football game played in Grapevine, Texas. The game was played between Grapevine Faith Academy and the Gainesville State School. Faith is a Christian school and Gainesville State is located within a maximum security correction facility. Their players are teenagers who have been convicted of crimes ranging from drugs to assault to robbery. Most have families who have disowned them. They only had 14 players and played every game on the road. Their record was 0-8 and they had only scored twice all year. Their equipment was either old and used or outdated.
Faith Academy, on the other hand, had 70 players, 11 coaches and the latest equipment. Their record was 7-2. The head coach knew the Gainesville team would have no fans and it would be no contest. He wondered what would happen if for one night only, half of their fans and half of their cheerleaders cheered for the other team. He sent out an email to the faithful asking them to do just that. Confused, many asked why he would even think of doing such a thing. He responded, “Imagine that everyone has pretty much given up on you. You don’t have a home life, no one to love you, and no one pulling for you. Now imagine what it would feel like and mean to you for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you. I want us to send a message to those young men that they are just as valuable as any other person on the planet.”
The idea took root and on the night of the game, 14 players from Gainesville State took the field crashing through a banner the cheerleaders had made for them. The visitor’s stands were full. The cheerleaders were leading cheers for them. The fans were calling them by their names. Isaiah, the quarterback/middle linebacker for Gainesville State, later responded to the surprising scene, “I never in my life thought I would hear parents cheering to tackle and hit their kid. Most of the time, when we come out, people are afraid of us. You can see it in their eyes. But these people yelled for us – they even knew our names.”
Faith won the game, and afterwards the teams gathered at midfield to pray. It was then that Isaiah surprised everyone by asking if he could lead in the prayer. He prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what just happened, so I don’t know how or who to say thank you to, but I never knew there were so many people in the world who cared about us.” On the way back to the bus, each player was handed a burger, fries, a coke, candy, a Bible, and an encouraging letter from the players of Faith Academy.
What an incredible act of Christian witness and kindness. Galatians 6:9-10 tells us to do good to all people as we have the opportunity, and to not grow weary in doing so, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest. You never know what your good deed may bring about.
To His Glory,