By Wayne Braudrick
“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:13 NASB)
Bremerton High School in Washington has threatened to fire football coach Joe Kennedy if he continues to pray on his own in public after every game. Kennedy has not invited anyone to join him nor has he used his position to force his beliefs on his students. The coach has merely lived out who he is.
Amazingly, he has received support from very unexpected places. The Seattle Times ran a column which supported the coach’s stand for his prayer after games. Good Morning America ran a very positive story, as have most news organizations. Last weekend the short video from KIRO 7 News in Seattle went viral. It showed Kennedy surrounded by fans, players, and coaches from the team they had just played – all taking a knee with Coach Joe.
While all that is beautiful and encouraging, the backstory is even more incredible. Wait until you hear…the rest of the story [we miss you, Paul Harvey.]
The full backstory
I am blessed to worship every week with some attorneys from Liberty Institute – a bold and brilliant firm that fights for American’s religious freedom. My friend Hiram Sasser is their amazingly successful chief litigator. Hiram is serving as Joe Kennedy’s counsel in this case and was there last Friday as the other team and fans surrounded Kennedy while he silently prayed. Yet between that scene and the post-game press conference, something remarkable happened, something that shows the power of long-term commitment.
Hiram tells the story:
“We were walking from the field toward the press conference and came up to an old man standing in Coach Joe’s path. Joe didn’t immediately recognize the man. The old man called out his name and Joe immediately embraced the man and began crying. It seemed the elderly fellow could hardly hold the coach up.
Turns out this man was a counselor at the boys’ home where Joe Kennedy spent his teens years. Joe had a difficult childhood spent mostly in foster homes and was always in trouble. He was so troubled that Joe ended up in a boys’ home. The counselor was a Christian. He loved Joe and tried to reach him by sharing God’s truth and love, but Joe wasn’t ready.
Joe entered the Marines and many years later became a Christian when those old dormant seeds of God’s love burst forth and took root. God had used the love of an old guy – a man who saw no visible fruit of his efforts for years – to change an troubled young man into a godly leader of young men.
As the two men hugged, Joe’s old mentor said, “I drove six hours to see you tonight because I thought you might need a little support.”
Many of the Christians I know are investing in the lives of people all around them. Some of those brethren are weary. They feel stuck in a rut or see no visible change. I pray for each of us that we will not grow weary in doing good, that we will not stop driving long distances to offer support. We never know when the eventual fruit of our investment may become viral.