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Ex-NFL player to teens: Shine amid darkness

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (BP)–When the former NFL player stepped onto the stage, he knew the several hundred youth seated before him may have expected someone bigger.

“I know some of you are shocked,” Daryl Jones said to students at the Go Tell student camp on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. “You heard about a football player-preacher coming to speak, and you see this short dude standing up here. But I serve a big God, and that big God decided not to make me big, but I can run really fast.”

Jones, a wide receiver on the national champion Miami Hurricanes in 2001 who also played in the NFL for several years, spoke to students from Matthew 5:14-16 on the importance of shining as lights in a dark world.

Using examples from his football days, Jones recounted how God uniquely placed him on teams in order to shine the light of the Gospel in those locker rooms. In addition to one-on-one relationships with players, Jones led chapel services and Bible studies during his time as a player.

“[Jesus] wants you to know who you are and where He has placed you,” Jones told the students. “You are light, and He has placed you in the world.”

As Christians shine as lights in the world, Jones said non-Christians will be offended by the exposure of their own sins. “The world wants you to get a little dirty,” he said, “because it makes them feel better about their dirt.”

However, Jones said, the light of Christ also provides a measure of peace in an unbeliever’s life similar to the effects of a nightlight comforting someone who is afraid of the dark. Christians shine light into the world by reflecting the light of Christ like the moon reflects the sun’s light, Jones noted. When Christians do this, the glory goes to God, not themselves.

“Your presence is crucial, and the world needs you,” Jones said at the mid-July camp. “Don’t ever feel insignificant. Never feel like you don’t have a place in life.”

Jones earned a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and currently is pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament at the seminary. He also serves as youth pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. Go Tell camps are an outreach of Go Tell Ministries led by evangelist Rick Gage, based in Duluth, Ga., and on the Web at www.gotellministries.com.
Keith Collier is director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).

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  • Keith Collier