Guest post by Christ Church member Walter Hughes

NOTE: Each summer, Christ Church partners with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) to host the East High football team for camp. Walter Hughes credits the late Jim Roper for his involvement.

Nine years ago, Jim Roper was heavily involved with East High, FCA and the camp at Christ Church. Jim requested I help with the camp that year, to see how I liked it. It’s apparent I liked it, as I will be part of my 9th camp this year.

The first few years were a little “quiet” as the players didn’t know me, nor I them, and it proved difficult to discuss life’s issues with someone that you are not familiar. But what began as a “quiet” time of little discussion around the guys quickly grew into meaningful conversations and long-lasting friendships.

I have learned these young men yearn for a mentor and father figure to help them navigate life and in dealing with situations they are facing daily.

Many players and coaches have reluctantly walked through the doors at Christ Church at the beginning of camp, not knowing what to expect. Those same players and coaches left the camp with their hearts full of love, joy, peace and hope—that only Jesus Christ can provide.

The camp provides the opportunity to spend quality time with each player, learning about their lives and their relationship with Christ. There is also a time for Huddle Groups, which are small groups of six players that meet with a Leader to discuss the theme for that year’s camp.

For many, there is a longing to have a better relationship with Christ. For others, the camp offers the opportunity for them to learn about and accept Christ as their Savior.

Six years ago one player and I became very close as we discussed what it meant to not only be a leader but a Christian leader on and off the field. Our relationship led to that young man accepting Christ and being baptized at Christ Church. He often tells me I am his father figure, and he leans on me for guidance in all areas of life. Had he not been part of the FCA camp, all of this may never had happened.

Rarely a week passes that I do not receive a text from many former “FCA campers” asking how my life is going. During the Christmas holidays, it’s become a tradition for many of the former East players to have a gathering at our home.

This past season was particularly rewarding as East won the state 4AAA championship.

I challenge you to stop by the camp this year, hang out with the guys and talk a little football, good food and Jesus.

This year’s camp is July 28-30, and volunteers are needed to serve as small group leaders or to donate water, sports drinks, or healthy snacks. Get more info at ChristChurchMemphis.org/GetGoing.

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