Prayers, motivational videos, games, prizes and inspired biblical encouragement combined with great food and fellowship constitutes a winning combination.
And once again Pastor Guy Burke, First Baptist Church and other community members teamed up to provide that enriching experience for local high school football athletes.
This is the third year for #onecity, the moniker given to Burke’s effort to unite the city’s two high school football teams together in an air of camaraderie. Even though the Gentry team was absent this year due to a scheduling error, Burke and his squad of ministers and supporters kept the spirit of unity alive.
Gentry’s new head coach, Tavares Johnson, said missing the event was a total oversight on his part and that there was no malice involved. Johnson said he received two phone calls about an event on different dates and not being familiar with the area, didn’t realize until later that the calls came from two different churches.
He said when the calls came in he was working with his team and was more focused on that.
“I’m mission oriented,” he said. “I hate I missed it, I would have loved to have my team be a part of that. I want my team to be ambassadors for the city of Indianola.”
Burke enlisted some of his friends to address the players to motivate and encourage them to unite as a team and build lasting relationships with each other and most of all with God in the hope that they will develop forever friendships and maybe even a winning season.
Jay Thomason, area director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, prayed over the team and injected a few remarks along with his invitation to be a part of the association.
David Odell, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Ark., was the featured speaker for the occasion.
Using the Apostle Paul’s remarks in the book of Philippians as his base, and alluding to Indianola Academy’s recent state championship win, Odell challenged the players to leave the past behind and press forward to what’s ahead, bettering themselves in football and their relationship with Christ.
He talked about his athletic accomplishments and shared stories that emphasized his overall point that there is something greater ahead for them. One in particular, was about a coach who brought a trashcan into the locker room and had his players throw their trophies and championship rings in it and state, “This is what we did last year; we’ve got something bigger in front of us this year.”
He shared that all likely have failures and successes in their past but forgetting those things, they should press forward on the football field as well as in their relationship with God.
“Pursue God with your heart, more than you pursue football or girls or things or success. Pursue God with everything you have,” he said.
Burke said afterwards that #onecity is a great time to encourage the teams.
“And we’re looking forward to the opportunity to continue,” he said.