In the late 1980s I volunteered with
the Fellowship of Christian
Athletes at their local university chapter. A Christian friend of
mine had been volunteering with that campus Christian organization, and
he persuaded me to help out too.
When I was first introduced to the
students as a volunteer, one of the
football players graciously invited me to attend his Bible Study in his
apartment to get to know some of the football players.
Kenny was one of those Christian
football players. He was the
smallest guy on the team, but he was also the fastest player on the
team, and specialized in returning punts and kickoffs.
When I first attended the Bible Study
to which I had been invited,
there were about six or seven players in attendance. It was a
Wednesday evening. When Kenny arrived he limped into the
apartment. I asked him what had happened, and he told me that he
had caught a pass during the previous Saturday's game, he went out of
bounds and hit the team bench with his front upper leg 'quad'
muscle. He was in obvious discomfort, limping heavily and maybe
even using crutches. He told me that the team medical trainers
had told him that he would probably miss several months of the Fall
The Bible study progressed, and ended
in a group prayer for various
issues, including Kenny's healing. Afterward as everyone was
chatting and getting ready to leave the Bible Study, I asked Kenny if
he had felt anything when we prayed for his healing. He said that
he had not felt anything, and had not expected to feel anything.
Being the new guy in the organization, I had no idea what the church
background of any of the players was, so I told Kenny that standing in
a circle, holding hands and praying was fine, but that the Scriptures
mention the 'laying on of hands' and 'anointing with oil' in
conjunction with healing prayer. Kenny replied, "You know, I have
read about that, but I have never seen either of those practices
done." So I suggested that we lay hands on Kenny for healing, and
see what might happen. He agreed, and I vividly remember this
huge defensive tackle laying hands in Kenny, saying "In the Name of
Jesus'! I figured that Kenny would either be healed or
crushed! I told Kenny to tell us when to stop praying.
About a minute later Kenny said,
"Please stop praying. I can't take any
more. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am burning up
with heat!" I replied that I guessed that was the power of the
Holy Spirit, and asked Kenny to give us a report on his condition at
the large group meeting the following Monday evening.
At the large group meeting I did not
see Kenny arrive, so I did not
know if he walked in on crutches, danced in, or if they carried him in
because I was chatting with others. The sponsoring coach led the
meeting, and at the end of the meeting he asked Kenny to lead the final
prayer. Kenny responded by saying, "Coach, I have to give a
report first." So he continued to tell the athletes from various
teams about his injury, about the Bible Study the previous Wednesday
evening, about our prayer for his healing, and the result. He
said, "Last Wednesday night after the Bible Study, I asked the Lord if
He was trying to tell me to give up football. I said, 'If that is
Your will, then I will give up football. But I I had my
'druthers', I'd rather that You would glorify Yourself through my
football somehow.' The next morning I was still sore, but went to
classes, and then went to the stadium and had the team trainers check
me out. They checked my range of motion and strength, and then
said, 'Kenny, get out of here. You are not injured at
all!'" Kenny then continued, "I caught three passes last
Saturday, and didn't miss a single game!"
SOME MORE OF THE STORY:
Six months later, Kenny was in the
Spring football game in which
offensive and defensive players from his team play each other.
During the game Kenny said that he went out for a pass, one of his
teammates fell on him, and that when he opened his eyes he was laying
on the ground in the middle of the huddle, and that all of his
teammates were standing around him crying. He had no idea what
was going on. He said that he tried to bounce up from the ground,
but saw his foot 'over there' in a strange position 90° sideways,
and realized that he had been severely injured in his knee. But
then he said that he realized that he was not experiencing any pain,
and thought 'I'll bet that God is in this somehow.' When I heard
that he had been injured I visited him in the hospital that evening,
and found him with a huge bandage and cast on his knee.
I didn't see Kenny until the
following Fall Semester at the
college. He was back on his feet, but I figured that his football
career was over. At the end of the school year just before
graduation the college Christian athletes went on a 'field trip' to a
local high school to encourage the high school athletes with their
testimonies of what God was doing in their lives. Before that
meeting we played a little '50 on 50' softball where everyone plays and
no one gets left out. Kenny hit the last pitch - a pop fly right
to me. I caught it on the inside of my pinkie finger, and it
broke - 90° sideways!! The trainer gave me a bag if ice for
my injury, and Kenny came over to encourage me. He said, "Rob,
let me encourage you. This past year had not been an easy senior
year for me, with the injury, surgery and rehab. But I am back on
the team, and can actually run faster and jump higher than I could
before the injury, and only God can do that!"
The next day the same doctor who had
done Kenny's knee surgery set my
finger. I told him that Kenny had hit the fly ball which broke my
finger, and the doctor winced when I mentioned Kenny's name. He
said that he had never seen a worse knee injury than Kenny's where the
leg was still attached!
Months later my pinkie finger was
healed, and as I picked up my guitar
and started to play I realized that I could do bar chords better than
before because there was about a 1° rotational improvement in my
pinkie finger! I figured that God had also improved me as He had
done for Kenny.