(From our Church devotional booklet)
You Still Matter
Fans rooted for the competition, Cheerleaders switched loyalties. The coach helped the opposition score points. Parents yelled for the competition. What was this?
This was the brainchild of a big-hearted football coach in Grapevine, Texas. Kris Hogan skippers the successful program of Faith Christian High School. He has seventy players, eleven coaches, quality equipment and parents who care, make banners, attend pep rallies and wouldn't miss a game for their own funeral.
They took their 7-2 record into a contest with Gainesville State School. Gainesville's players, by contrast, wear seven year old shoulder pads and last decade's helmets and show up at each game wearing handcuffs. Their parents don't watch them play, but twelve uniformed officers do. That's because Gainesville is a maximum-security correctional facility. The school doesn't have a stadium, cheerleading squad or half a hope of winning. Gainesville was 0-8 going into the Grapevine game. They'd scored two touchdowns all year.
The whole situation didn't seem fair. Coach Hogan devised a plan. He asked the fans to step across the field and for one night only to cheer for the other side. More than two hundred volunteered.
They formed a forty yard spirit line. They painted "Go Tornadoes!" on a banner that the Gainesville squad could burst through. They sat on the Gainesville side of the stadium. They even learned the names of Gainesville players so they could yell for individuals.
The prisoners had heard people scream their names, nut never like this. Gerald, a lineman who will serve three years said, "People are a little afraid of us when we come to the games. You can see it in their eyes. They're lookin' at us like we're criminals. But these people, they're yelling for us. By our names!"
After the game the teams gathered in the middle of the field to say a prayer. One of the incarcerated players asked to lead it. Coach Hogan agreed, not knowing what to expect. "Lord", the boy said, " I don't know how this happened, so I don't know how to say thank you, but I never would've known there was so many people in the world who cared about us."
Grapevine fans weren't finished. After the game they waited beside the Gainesville bus to give each player a goodbye gift- burger, fries, candy, soda, a Bible, an encouraging letter and a round of applause. As their prison bus left the parking lot, the players pressed stunned faces against the windows and wondered what just hit them".
Here's what hit them: A fullside of "You still matter" and "Someone still cares". Their mission? Break down barricades that separate God's children from each other.
9 hours ago