Four months ago,  a bus filled with tired high schoolers pulled up to Christ Church. East High School’s football team was back for camp again. Ready to welcome the team was Lee Still, Walter Hughes, and a group of small group leaders from both inside and outside of Christ Church. The weekend was filled with practices, scrimmages, financial literacy classes, small groups, and plenty of time to rest. The camp’s theme was Rise, a study on the story of Joseph. Today, the team continues their rise by preparing for the 4A State Championship Game on Saturday in Cookeville.

ehsfc-2015-002The camp was not only the starting point for the team’s season, but also for Walter Hughes and Lee Still. The two have been faithful each week, delivering pizza to the team and leading a brief devotional at the school. East High School finished their regular season with a 8-2 record. After starting their season with a loss against Cordova, the school strung together eight straight wins, including an always important victory against rival Melrose in the Soul Bowl. With a chance to win their division, the Mustangs stumbled on their final game by losing to Ridgeway on Senior Night. Heading into the playoffs, the team would need to rise again.

After an opening round win against Jackson North Side, the papers began to pick against East High in the playoffs. Considered an underdog against Haywood, the Mustangs found a way to rise to the victory. Considered an underdog in their rematch against Ridgeway, the Mustangs found a way to rise to the victory. Considered an underdog to Nashville powerhouse Pearl-Cohn, the team that defeated East in the playoffs last year, the Mustangs again found a way to rise to the victory. Now the team has one final game- the state championship against Knoxville Central on Saturday.

Fittinscreen-shot-2016-11-30-at-11-23-51-amgly, Walter’s Hughes devotional before the team’s game against Pearl Cohn had the theme of
Overcome. The message was able to share the Gospel with the team by featuring a recent video shown at World Relief’s banquet. The video, in its entirety below, features Ntirenganyi Karamba, a former refugee and current kicker on the team. The story tells of Karamba’s past, and how through praying to God he has overcome several difficulties in his life. Hughes helped the players think through the tough situations that they have overcame in their lives, the tough games they have overcame this season, and use that as an opportunity to rely fully on God’s guidance. He told them that regardless of winning or losing, what was important was that they learned how to use their platform as an athlete to give God the glory.

The story that began four months ago with the theme of rise is still continuing, as the team is overcoming losses, obstacles, and tough situations to overcome all and reach the state final. Would you take time today to pray for the East High School’s football team? Pray for safety in traveling. Pray that the team would honor God in their playing, both in victory in defeat. Pray for Walter and Lee’s influence and ministry with the players and coaches, that God would bear fruit in the relationships.

Do you have a passion for teenagers and sports? Get into the game by volunteering and supporting East High Athletics. Bible Study happens every Monday afternoon with the girls basketball team, and Walter is in the planning process of how to minister to boys basketball and wrestling teams this winter. Fill out this quick form here to get going!

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