POSTED Saturday, January 30.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (BP)–Corwin Anthony has spent 10 years working with the Christian ministry Athletes in Action, serving with professional athletes to nurture their faith in Jesus Christ.
He has worked with multi-millionaires and minimum-wage football players amid their hopes, fears and problems in one of the most watched of professions.
But Anthony, who also is the chaplain for the Miami Dolphins, says he’s glad to have a rare home game next week, when the 2010 Pro Bowl, followed by Super Bowl XLIV rolls into South Florida for a week of activities, football fun and, most importantly, meaningful ministry.
“It’s a very busy time for sure, but one I enjoy because we have a lot of fun events, which we have time to focus on, plus meeting and sharing for the Pro Bowl players,” he said.
For the first time ever, the National Football League is holding its Pro Bowl, honoring the best players in the NFC and the AFC, the week before the Super Bowl in the same stadium.
Instead of the isolated time in Hawaii for the players and their families at the Pro Bowl, the NFL decided to include the Pro Bowl as part of the Super Bowl festivities.
That means more work, but more ministry for Anthony.
During the football season, Anthony conducts a weekly chapel for Dolphins players and coaches along with weekly Bible studies and personal ministry. This week he will expand his work to the NFL players who are in town by the hundreds.
“In Hawaii, it was really more like a vacation for the players and their families and we didn’t have much time with them,” Anthony said. “Now we have time to be with them and have a chance to help and minister.”
Anthony and members of his AIA staff will be conducting the Pro Bowl chapel service Sunday morning at the team hotel just north of Miami. They will be speaking to the players and also giving them a chance to share among themselves about their ups and downs after a long NFL season.
Members of the two Super Bowl teams, the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, will not be in the Pro Bowl this year, but for those who come, Anthony hopes it also will yield a ministry to the local community and those who have a chance to hear the athletes’public testimony.
New Dallas Cowboy chaplain John Tolson said opportunities abound for Christian players at both the Pro Bowl on Sunday and the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Tolson is in his first year as Cowboys chaplain, taking over after the team’s longtime spiritual mentor, John Weber, died of a heart attack in late 2008.
He said chaplains like Anthony, himself and others have a responsibility to help players prepare for the media spotlight over the next 10 days as south Florida becomes the pro football capital of the U.S.
“If a player has been successfully discipled by his chaplain, then this is a wonderful time to speak of your faith,” Tolson said.
“They are going to have some great chances to speak about what’s important to them, and I’m praying for some really good opportunities.”
As proof, Tolson listed a number of Dallas Cowboys players who are ready to share their faith. “It’s exciting to hear them talk about what’s important in their life,” he said.
Anthony, likewise, went through the 2010 Pro Bowl roster and highlighted several players with a faith in Jesus Christ.
Another ministry opportunity for Anthony and the AIA team will be the annual Super Bowl Breakfast on Saturday, Feb. 6, with the presentation of the Bart Starr Award for service and integrity in the league.
“It’s really an outreach to the local community,” Anthony said. “We want to get the word out and make it a success. Bart Starr’s name draws a lot of people and we want to have another good event this year.”
Anthony’s ministry partner, his wife Kim, will be unveiling her new book, “Unfavorable Odds,” detailing how God worked in her life as a world-class gymnast and now as a ministry speaker and teacher.
At the end of the week, Anthony, a former college football player, might have a chance to watch some football himself. But first there is a chance to give a guiding hand to many of pro football’s elite and their fans gathering in South Florida.
Art Stricklin is a Baptist Press sports correspondent.