by Shane Jones
I don't know if everyone know's it or not but, God is SUPER COOL! I mean it. He takes care of us, loves us, makes sure we have all of our "needs"met, right?! He also blesses us with some "wants" and allows us to serve him in ways that we might not expect to be a great "ministry opportunity".
I wrestled in junior high, high school, and college, and that's practically all I did. I loved it so much that I did it almost year around. Wrestling is one of those things you get in your blood and you can't get rid of. It's infectious. Some like golf, sitting in a tree-stand deer hunting, working on cars, researching archaeology, studying God's Word, preparing a Bible study or a sermon each week, scrapbooking... each of us have different activities that make us tick. Wrestling is one of those activities for me, and I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to coach.
When we moved to Utah two years ago, our son Keegan wrestled. This gave me the opportunity to coach him individually, but also to show other wrestlers new techniques. Last year I was asked to be an assistant coach, and I accepted because I saw it providing two opportunities: 1) a chance to earn a small paycheck which helps us bridge the gap with our support, and 2) a chance to develop relationships and shine the Light in our community. The time I have been able to spend with these kids has paved huge in-roads into the lives of them individually, but also their parents and siblings. Because Ephraim is such a small community, I see my wrestlers everywhere. There are a few whom I text with, and we get together and hang-out. All but maybe 5% of the kids are LDS, of course. It is quite interesting when these guys see me on the Manti Pageant streets talking to people about Mormonism or fraternizing with other "anti-Mormon" Christians. Since they know me as Coach Jones they respect me enough to listen. It opens SO many doors to share the Truth in love with them.
Just yesterday, one of the moms came into the Cafe with friends to get coffee. Yep, coffee! This is one of the areas that has given me a voice with the more staunch parents and coaches. They all know I work at the Christian coffee house and drink coffee. I get the looks and little remarks from those Word of Wisdom followers like "that STUFF is going to kill you," testifying to their disapproval. I always make them aware of what Jesus taught, "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth". I usually don't get much of a response back.
I just finished up my second season, and we had 3 wrestlers in the 2A State Finals with 2 State Champions! I have been able to shine the Light of Christ with each of these guys. As a matter of fact, we had an awesome time to pray together before their matches. I really look forward to how God is going to use these relationships. One of the 3 will be a student at Snow next fall! One wants to go on to wrestle in college, so I see us staying in touch for years. The last one is only a sophomore; I have got him on the high school team for 2 more years! These are only 3 of the 30+ wrestlers I have. Some are more open to the Truth than others, but I think the fields are ripe for harvest.
I covet your prayers. Pray for my impact on the kids. Pray for my witness to the parents. Pray that Kim and I will be able to have some these families into our home and share Jesus. Pray for interaction with the other coaches. Pray for my wrestlers going on LDS missions. I have one in Alabama right now, and my suspicion is that he is doing his mission for the benefit of finding a girl when he gets back. (All good LDS girls want a Return Missionary.) Pray that the right Christian will cross paths with him in Alabama, he will be challenged to his core, and he will find the Jesus of the Bible. Before he left, I told him, "'B', just learn what Jesus taught in the Bible. Don't follow all the stuff they tell you to do, go find a relationship with Jesus. Make that your mission". Pray for the Holy Spirit to keep "B" up at night!