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Kingsport church ministers to local high school team
Friday, Oct 7, 2011
By Lonnie Wilkey

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (BP)--Prior to their Friday night football game, players and coaches at Sullivan Central High School here do not know if they will win or lose the game.

They can be assured each week, however, they will have a good pre-game meal thanks to a ministry of Indian Springs Baptist Church.

For the past five years, Indian Springs has provided a pre-game meal, for both home and road games, said Indian Springs pastor Roc Collins.

He praised his congregation, nothing "they have a heart for ministry outside the walls of the church."

Collins recalled that a deacon and member of the church Bill Allen said that his former church used a similar ministry to encourage the coaches, players and the community at large.

"We said, 'Let's do it.'" Collins said. "God has blessed it."

Collins said the meal, which is served at the church, has been strongly supported by the players and coaches at Sullivan Central High School.

The meal is provided at 3 p.m. each Friday and features a different menu each week, the pastor said.

He noted the favorite among the players is a country breakfast, complete with biscuits and gravy.

The meal is prepared under the supervision of Wayne Droke, the church's minister of food services. He is assisted each week by six to eight volunteers who serve the food to the players.

Collins observed that the volunteers are not just church members. He noted there have been people in the community who used the ministry as their entry point into the church.

The meals are at no cost to the team or school, Collins stressed. It is a budgeted item by the church, he said.

The high school is only a couple of miles from the church, Collins said, adding that most of the church's students attend the school.

He said the ministry has enabled the church to build relationships with the players and that many of them began attending the church, especially on Wednesday nights.

The players anticipate the meal each week, the pastor said. "I'll go to practice during the week and the players will ask what they are having to eat this week. They look forward to it."

A program is planned during the meals by Tiger Brooks, the church's minister to students.

Both Collins and Brooks have led the devotions, but they also have featured other local pastors or Fellowship of Christian Athletes sponsors as guest speakers.

One of the highlights of the ministry is that last year one of the players accepted Christ as his personal Savior, Collins said.

He noted the meals are very labor intensive but that one decision "was worth it all." The young man was baptized and is now in college, Collins said.

"It has been a great thing to see the relationship with the players blossom," Collins said.

"We feel it is a way we can make an impact in our community. We are privileged to be a part of it."
Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist & Reflector.

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