TITLE: Once A Cheerleader (Part 1) 12/23/15
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When I was a McKinley High School cheerleader in Honolulu, I noticed how invigorated I felt when I encouraged others to do their best.
One day, Bob, who was on the boys bowling team, asked me, “Can the pep squad cheer at our tournament?” In those days, the squad didn’t attend every sport’s events.
Surprised and happy that Bob wanted us to cheer, I replied, “Sounds like a great idea. Let me talk to the girls.”
I asked our squad, “Bob, on the bowling team, wants us to cheer for them at the Stadium Bowling Alley tournament. Are you willing to cheer?”
Cheerleader Bonnie said, “Yea, sure. It’s the state tournament. Let’s go.”
The rest of the girls chimed their support.
At the tournament, when we stood behind our team and chanted, “T-E-A-M, yay team,” the boys became energized with huge smiles and fist pumping. They captured our school’s first state bowling championship that day. Our cheers heightened into a jubilant victory song, “For McKinley’s honor, fight!, boys to the last.”
With the biggest grins, Bob and the rest of the team called out to us as soon as they won, “Thanks for cheering. It made a big difference!”
I was hooked. It didn’t just make a big difference in the boys’ mental fortitude to win our school’s first state tournament; I felt a “rush,” encouraging them to achieve their best.
Today, I continue my joy of encouraging others by inspiring them toward Christ. If I can play a part in someone’s spiritual growth, I’m ready to help.
I wasn’t always like this, however. My journey to become a cheerleader for Christ started with my college friend, Rick, who was a psychology major. He told me, “I don’t believe in God. People don’t care where they were before they were born. Why should they care about where they go after they die?”
I responded with, “I’m certain that Jesus is real. There is a Heaven or Hell after death.”
Rather than go around in circles debating different beliefs, we both let the conversation about the hereafter drop. At that time in our lives, talking about the next college party was more important than discussing eternity.
Then a couple of years after we graduated from college, Rick’s father passed away. He asked me to have lunch with him to talk about something that was on his mind. Without exception, Rick would share puns and jokes, and laugh at his own humor. While we were eating lunch, however, fun-loving Rick was uncharacteristically somber as he shared about how much he loved his father and that it troubled him to not know where his father’s spirit went.
“Dad knew how much I loved surfing. He would take me to the beach and sometimes wait for me while I surfed. When he died, I took my board and headed out to surf. It was my way of honoring him. I often wonder about his spirit. I wonder where he is…,” he said as he gazed reflectively at nothing.
Then suddenly, he looked at me and asked the bomb question, “Why do you believe in Jesus?”
Yeow! This threw me off guard since he had previously exuded confidence in having the universe figured out.
I fumbled through the following answer, “Uh…um, He helps me through the challenges in my life.”
Rick confirmed that he sensed a different spirit in me than in others, “You handle adversity well.” But because I was tongue-tied, I said, “Do you want to speak with my Sunday School teacher? He’s good at explaining Christ to others.”
To which Rick replied, “No, I want to hear about Christ from you, since I know you.”
I lacked confidence in explaining Christ and didn’t want to say anything that might dampen the curiosity that He was arousing in Rick. After more of my “ers” and “ums,” Rick dropped the subject.
Devastated! This word can’t express how disappointed I was in myself. While grimacing, I flipped through the pages of my mind trying to find something wise to say. God had obviously thrown me a Hail Mary pass to “Win a Soul For Him.” I lunged to grab it, but in slo〜w mo〜tion anguish felt the football bounce off my fingertips. I fumbled this colossal opportunity to lead my friend to Christ. As we left the restaurant, my mind churned with, I failed God and Rick. How can I make up for my fumble?
The following words of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana suddenly rang true to me, “Preparation is completing 100% of practice passes as if it will result in a touchdown. The detail and perfection exercised in daily practice is the difference between winning and losing.” I got it. The goal of my daily training in scripture meditation should be to lead someone to Christ. The way I train can be the defining factor between winning or losing a soul for Him.
It was due to Rick’s unexpected request that I was determined to fluidly share about Christ at the next opportunity. God confirmed, in 1 Peter 3:15, that I should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks me to give the reason for the hope that I have.
To recover from my ineptitude with Rick, after our lunch, I went straight to Rhema Christian bookstore to select a book that would inspire him toward Christ.
Rick was the type of person who needed time to meditate on facts before he made a big decision. For example, he would read all the car reviews, speak to experts, test drive cars, and have a mechanic inspect the car before he bought it. He liked to check out the details about subjects that he was interested in.
I spent hours pouring over books that might satisfy Rick’s quest for substantiated reasons to consider Christ. Finally, I selected Evidence for Faith by John Warwick Montgomery and gave it to him right away.
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