A little over a year ago, a high school football team had traveled from one part of Arkansas to another for an away game. Like many other medium-sized town in Arkansas, Monticello had hotel rooms to stay in, but there wasn't meeting space large enough for 50 or more high school kids and their associated adult chaperones and coaches. Add in that football is a big deal, and there's not going to be much help forthcoming for a visiting team.
Well, one of the adults with this team was also the “unofficial” chaplain of the team. He sent out a message on Twitter that he was looking for a space to meet. That tweet was picked up by one of his friends, who happened to pass the info on to me. At the time, I was pastor of a church in Monticello. In fact, it was the church within rock-throwing distance of the hotel the team was staying at for the game. I made contact back with the team, and offered the use of the youth room in our church for their team to meet in, watch film, and do whatever they needed. Because it was a Thursday night and Ann was out with some friends, it took a little extra looping to get the keys to the church in the hands of the team.
Actually, it didn't take much looping. The football team was having dinner at the pizza restaurant that shared a parking lot with the restaurant Ann and another pastor's wife had gone to for dessert night. So, it was a quick walk across the parking lot and the problem was solved.
So, that night, the team used Calvary Baptist Church in Monticello, Arkansas. This was the first time nearly half the football team had ever been in a church. That's right. Ever been in a church. That night, and the next day, they got to look around and think it was a cool building and a cool room. They had the opportunity to hear their coach's testimony of his Christian faith. They had the opportunity to see nearly the closest thing small-town Arkansas has to “love your enemies” when their opposing team's supporters provided them meeting space.
How did it all come together? Like I said, a tweet went out from one person, and it bounced off of another. Well, here's a few other details: Doug, the team chaplain, sent a tweet. Mark, a mutual friend, saw it and forwarded it to me. I bounced it to Ann, who, knowing Mark and the first Doug helped with the project. How did we know each other? A little place called Ouachita Baptist University. Mark and I lived in the same dorm. Doug was there, and so was Ann. We majored in different things, but remembered each other, and had grown with a love for serving the Lord Jesus Christ together in our time there.
One other detail....Mark was in Singapore. Or China, or someplace in East Asia, because that's where he lives these days. So, one Doug helped another Doug in Southeast Arkansas, by way of East Asia, all because of a group of relationships that began with Ouachita Baptist University.
Why tell this story now? I was reminded of it when I ran into the other Doug this week at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. I haven't seen him since school. I still haven't seen Mark. We were there, together, celebrating the work that Arkansas Baptists have been involved with together, and I remembered this story. I should have shared it then, but better late than never.