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Local church hosts traveling athletes

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, Lee United Methodist Church hosted a group of young athletes from Panama City Mosley High School for a pre-game meal and devotional on their way to Live Oak to play Suwannee County High School in a football game. The meal was coordinated by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) North Florida Area Director Steve McHargue. When McHargue learned the team would be making their way to Live Oak, McHargue made the offer to Mosley Head Coach Jeremy Brown to stop in Lee for a pre-game meal. McHargue sent out the word, and several churches responded with offers to feed the students and coaches. Other churches helping included Hickory Grove United Methodist Church, Fellowship Baptist Church and Hopewell Baptist Church.

After the meal, McHargue led the team in a short devotional in the church's sanctuary. During the devotional, McHargue talked about the importance of the local church and encouraged the young men to become involved in their local church.

Brown, who was the football coach at Jefferson County High School before going to Mosley High School, spoke of the positive influence FCA involvement has made on his team. Before Brown came to the school, the students had not been to an FCA camp. Brown has seen the positive impact the camp and involvement with FCA has made on his team. “The sharing opportunities during camp really opens up the communication with the kids. We [coaches] get a feel for where these kids are coming from, especially in terms of family,” said Brown. Brown said the community has been very supportive of the local FCA program.

Both the coaching staff and students alike expressed gratitude to the local church members who took time to serve the young men. One young man known simply as R.J., a senior who plays center for the Mosley team, was especially thankful for the meal and the experience. “It was great,” said R.J. with a big grin on his face. As students were leaving the devotional service, they thanked the church members, many of whom were seated near the back of the sanctuary. As one young man told an elderly woman from the church “thank you,” he extended his hand for a handshake. The woman responded with, “I don't do just a handshake; I need a hug.” That one short, brief encounter summed up the afternoon's event in a nutshell. In just a few minutes, a connection was made with the lives of these young people. That connection will likely continue to be a positive memory for both the students and church members.

The Dolphins of Mosley High School were defeated in their game against the Bulldogs of Suwannee County High School with a final score of 28-24.

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