To start with, my youngsters already lived right here with their mother and stepfather. The varsity football crew, the Stephenville Yellow Jackets, was the winningest Texas football workforce within the ninety’s and my sons, together with their stepfather, urged me to come back and see these youngsters play. “They’re phenomenal!” I was assured. I went to watch them play as they received the Texas State Championships in 98 and ninety nine. They Were phenomenal! My youngest son performed football at Stephenville Excessive. His underclass groups won district and he performed Varsity ball on a team that went to the Bi-District finals his Senior year. This was enough to get me to criss-cross the broad open spaces of Texas from Arlington, chasing after my son’s football games for four years, together with fairly a few contests right in his home city of Stephenville.
Sport by game, the town was rising on me.
Some unusual issues were occurring there that caught my attention from my condominium in Arlington. For starters, on a Christian radio present I used to hearken to, the host, Dawson McAllister, mentioned he would soon be speaking at a rally in…where else? Stephenville! Hmm. Intriguing. Seems, my children attended that rally. I came upon later, most Everybody’s youngsters attended.
Another occurring that the Holy Spirit used to lure my consideration to Stephenville was the warfare towards prayer in the faculties, particularly at sporting events and graduations. The reports have been on just about each nightly newscast. I observed during my brief visits to city that there were many children carrying a brilliant yellow t-shirt with the words “I Pray earlier than I Play” emblazoned boldly upon the front. Following are some pieces of articles I discovered on the internet, the likes of which I seemed to be hearing frequently back within the late ninety’s. They speak for themselves, painting an accurate picture of the climate of these days:
“…the athletic field is quickly turning right into a tradition struggle battle zone, as it did Friday night time at a game in Stephenville, Texas, over the problem of faculty prayer. Schooling boards and faculty principals across Texas are struggling with federal tips on religious activities, including the ban on official college prayer. Earlier this 12 months, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals dominated that some religious references had been permissible in school events like graduation ceremonies, but had been inappropriate — not sufficiently sacred — throughout other activities like athletic contests. Jurists ruled that the hootin’ and hollerin’ of a down-house soccer standoff lacked the “singularly critical nature” of other functions, equivalent to a graduation event.
“That didn’t stop a small group of 15 college students on Friday night time, although, from smuggling a portable public handle system into a highschool sport in Stephenville, Texas, to lead supporters in public prayer…
“One of many “prayer warrior” students at Friday night’s recreation instructed the Stephenville Empire-Tribune paper, “This was not about soccer, it was about God. We determined to pray for God (sic).” In line with an Associated Press report, native highschool superintendent Larry Butler stated that the impromptu prayer rally did not have assist of authorities from the district. “With that being mentioned,” added Butler, “I applaud them for doing one thing that they feel really strongly about. I believe the whole community of Stephenville believes in school prayer.”
“To date, there aren’t any different experiences of spontaneous prayer outbreaks at weekend soccer games. News accounts recommend that most college district throughout Texas are abiding by the Circuit Court docket pointers…”
FROM Another ARTICLE…
“A lot of “spontaneous” protest at soccer games have taken place in Stephenville. Last week, the Board of Trustees of the Stephenville Impartial College District grappled with a policy which would permit a pupil chosen by fashionable vote to deliver a pre-recreation “message,” offered sure rules were noticed. The local Empire-Tribune newspaper famous: “The principles are that the purpose of the message is to encourage good sportsmanship and pupil security and to promote the proper surroundings for the competitors… The message may also be used to welcome or greet fans and the opposing group and/or to commend them for their achievements.
“While one board member mused that the new policy “would legally create an open forum for a time period designated for the message and designate a place for the scholar message,” another member noticed by the obfuscation. Referring to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court determination disallowing pre-sport prayer, he informed fellow board members: “That is the legislation as we speak whether or not we prefer it or not. Till that is cleared up, I personally assume we go against the law if we permit pupil prayer, or any prayer, earlier than the game…” “
Here’s Yet another FROM ‘ninety nine…
College students Defy Federal Choose on Prayer at High school Sport
Stephenville, TX – The August twenty seventh football season opener for the Stephenville High school Yellow Jackets was not solely memorable for the lop-sided victory they had, but also for the courage shown by the scholar body and the fans in the crowd. A district federal decide had issued a choice forbidding prayer at public college gatherings, even if initiated by students. The scholars of Stephenville Excessive believe this is a violation of their constitutional proper to freedom of religion. The pupil physique not solely takes pleasure in being the defending 4A state champions, however in exercising their constitutional rights.
Earlier than the opening kickoff, one among the scholars of Stephenville High grabbed a microphone and led a “spontaneous” prayer. A number of college students joined the younger man on the sidelines, but what was even more highly effective was the fact that not some, however all of the people within the stands stood up, removed their hats and joined within the prayer. Local information stations had been there to cover the sport and questioned the police and highschool administrator as to what they deliberate to do about the “illegal” praying. There was no response from the police, but the highschool administrator simply said that no actions have been to be taken towards the students. School officials additionally identified that since the college had not formally sanctioned the action, it could not be held legally liable for what occurred.
The federal decide, upon hearing about the public prayer, said that the prayer was in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state. Some supporters of the scholars pointed out that the Constitution doesn’t demand separation of church and state, but ensures that there shall be no legal guidelines made establishing any official religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Students interviewed said that they planned to pray publicly at their next game.
One factor that almost all native stories on the event failed to say was that it was not simply the Stephenville students and supporters, but their football adversaries as nicely that stood up to be counted. The Weatherford Highschool Kangaroos, and all their followers, honored the brave people that dared to problem the edict of a federal judge by standing with them throughout the prayer. With reporters scouring the group for an opposing view, not one particular person was found whom the prayer offended. Still the judge finds this act illegal and irresponsible!
What occurs going ahead from here relies on how decided the choose is to power his will on the people, and the way determined the residents of Stephenville are to defend their constitutional rights. For one night at the very least, this was seen as a victory for Texans within the train of their rights. As for Weatherford High, it was the one brilliant spot in a night time that resulted in a 34-7 loss to the Yellow Jackets.
AND One other…
Extra Faculties IGNORE Football PRAYER BAN
North of Dallas, Celina high school football followers prayed earlier than a football recreation with a Christian school. The apparently coordinated prayer by followers, football gamers, cheerleaders, and band members violates the U.S. 5th Circuit Courtroom of Appeals ban on school football prayers because soccer will not be correctly solemn enough for God.
Rev. John Mark Arrington, pastor at Lighthouse Full Gospel Church in Garland distributed 250 T-shirts with the slogan, “Celina Bobcats Pray Earlier than They Play.” Arrington need students to obey “God’s law,” which justifies the rising rebellion of evangelicals towards the U.S. Constitution.
In Stephenville, college students introduced their own sound system to football games and delivered a religious message utilizing the gear. There was no report that school officials took any action to stop it.
In Midland, pupil-led prayers at football video games still happen. Men’s Desgin Balance Short Sleeve Tee Shirt School officials said the prayers would continue until someone filed a lawsuit to make them cease.
FINALY, THIS FROM U.S. Information & WORLD REPORT…
To pray–or to not pray” by Robert Bryce.
U.S. News & World Report, Sep 13, 1999 (Vol 127, No 10). Page 26.
Joel Allen and Alan Ward, two Stephenville, Texas, highschool college students, refused to be denied the tradition that surrounded their school’s soccer games. So to avoid a federal court order barring use of a school’s public tackle system for prayer before high school soccer video games, the two students borrowed a small speaker system and led the crowd in prayer, a lot to the followers’ delight.
The courtroom ruling that impacts Stephenville, Texas, handed down in February 1999, by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals has revived a national furor over the place of prayer in public school occasions. The court docket’s decision acknowledged that pupil-led prayer during graduation ceremonies is allowed, however prayer throughout events akin to soccer games shouldn’t be since they don’t signify a “solemn” sufficient occasion.
This latest ruling is one in all several conflicting federal choices on school prayer lately. In July 1999, the eleventh Circuit Courtroom of Appeals ruled that an Alabama school district couldn’t ban student-initiated prayer at college activities, even when attendance of the occasion is necessary.
The Fifth Circuit Court’s determination will most certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. In the meantime, some college districts in Louisiana and Texas say they are going to hold a moment of silence in lieu of prayer. Others vow to disregard the ruling altogether.
YOU GET The picture.
I was fascinated, ready with baited breath for the next act of civil disobedience to come from the youngsters from this li’l ol’ city in Texas I might never heard of until my children moved there.
Finally, I grew to become very ill and was faced with a tough resolution. I had to leave Arlington, a place I might lived for 14 years and a Church of which I was a Charter Member and Assistant Pastor as well as an excellent-paying job where I held a prestigious place. But I couldn’t bend over to load my dishwasher, walk a flight of stairs or carry groceries to and from my car. I needed my kids’s help.
Stephenville, right here I come!
Crippled and in pain, discovering a job was almost unimaginable. I came very near filing Medicaid papers and turning into a ward of the state. I couldn’t deliver myself to do it. Where God guides, He gives and He regularly sent ravens to take care of my wants. My previous college roommate lived in Dublin just 12 minutes away. He directed a publishing firm to contact me as they wanted an illustrator for a collection of children’s books. That job alone, a job I could do from my kitchen desk and even from propped -up pillows, was enough to help me make ends meet. Between chapters, recipients of my weekly email Bible broadcasts would occasionally come by with a love offering.
I was residing from miracle to miracle till I obtained a name from my previous college pal informing me that the native Chamber of Commerce was in need of a receptionist. I didn’t even know what a Chamber of Commerce truly did but I used to be feeling miraculously higher, nicely sufficient to have utilized for work at an area dairy reading the ear tags on cows just the day earlier than. Funny, I can’t recall a job interview the place a prospective employer asked if I would mind sometimes getting “splattered with manure.” (I replied that it sounded like my final job. He did not snigger.) Any approach, I went proper to The Chamber and I will be there 5 years this July 7th. It is an amazing job and the Lord has allowed me numerous opportunities to faucet into the spiritual roots of the group from my position.
UNITY In the neighborhood
On the Chamber, I have been privileged to work for and with wonderful Christian people. Several years back, one lady I labored with had the thought of putting on an event that may give teenagers something to do after faculty ended in might. as we brainstormed, the occasion advanced into “The Extreme Thing.” In no time, different church members and ministers jumped on board. Ultimately, we had 29 churches concerned, 9 bands, bouncy toys, organized games, 1,000 attendees and several ministers. The event was closed by a wonderful Church of Christ choir and their pastor. It was superior!
In 2002 and 2003, I organized a July 4th parade entry which I called “The Declaration of Dependence.” I designed a T-shirt and matching banner and about 50 Christians suited up and took half. The subsequent 12 months, over a hundred and fifty Christians took half from 11 different churches – including Hispanic Churches. We had the largest entry within the parade that year.
Sooner or later, a man from the Meeting of God Church took me to lunch. He had an thought for a door to door prayer ministry he referred to as “Operation Jesus.” I designed a logo for a T-shirt and, previously two years, hundreds of contributors have prayed for nearly each dwelling place in city. We’re about to start out over and the numbers of taking part churches is increasing each time we exit.
A young Youth Minister from the Disciples of Christ had the imaginative and prescient to arrange an event he referred to as “The Unity Convention.” Ultimately, tons of of believers attended from varied denominations to take heed to seven different ministers converse on a wide range of topics and worship together in tune with a number of church worship teams. I used to be honored to have been one among those who ministered. Only a few months ago, I truly preached the Sunday morning providers in that very same church on two consecutive Sundays.
My own ministry has expanded to include opportunities to speak at the highschool and the native faculty the place I lately participated in a panel discussion on homosexuality in a grad level counseling/psych class. Final Sunday, I completed my sixth and ultimate week of instructing at the first United Methodist Church. I’ve been invited back. The Pastor known as me at work simply at the moment to thank me for “sharing my present” with his congregation. Good man.
The pastor from the native Cowboy Church – a Baptist group that has blossomed to 500 members in its first 12 months – has asked that I come and train the Cowboys in regards to the cults. Although I’m not Baptist, I’ve taught too many times to depend at the Sunday conferences of the native Baptist Ministry. I attend a weekly home church assembly that features several Pentecostals, some Baptists and a couple of Catholics. We’ve prayed collectively and ministered to others and have seen miracles and spiritual gifts in operation.
Jesus prayed that we can be one as He and the Father are one. Unity commands a Heavenly blessing.
That’s MY STORY…
That’s how I bought to city and what God’s shown me within the mean time. Has it been without its trials? Hardly. Other than hate mail through my computer, I once visited a lady in the county jail and even helped arrange her release. She later accused me of a crime and filed a restraining order in opposition to me. Not solely did that case by no means make it to trial, but that lady has been despatched to the state jail for an additional crime. On prime of that, there have been a number of individuals who would not enable their kids to sit underneath my educating as a result of they learned I’ve been divorced. Not less than nobody’s capturing.
Oh, one last little bit of excellent news is this: I moved to a cabin within the woods and, after i met my wonderful wife, Barbara, we not solely moved here and adore it, but we bought a Victorian home in city that my dad and mom moved into from Las Cruces, New Mexico and are managing as a rooming house. We call it Vanderbilt Place. Barb is a registered nurse and acquired a job on the hospital positioned simply 2 blocks from my downtown office on the Chamber. I see all 4 of my youngsters, daughter-in-regulation and three grandchildren repeatedly. I can recall the times that I used to be at all times so all alone and sickly.
I am unsure what it’s the Lord is doing right here in this glorious little town but, understanding Him, I do know it’s gonna be great! I encourage anyone reading this now to grow where you’re planted, regardless of circumstances. I’ve realized that something we are able to see with human eyes is subject to alter. Even at my sickest, I used to be mailing Christian Gospel tracts to Middle Japanese-sounding names from the cellphone guide on the chance the recipients is perhaps Muslim. I made it to the letter “J” as I recall. My stamp-licking tongue wasn’t broken, after all. Later, a dear buddy gave me a great used computer and my email ministry was on its manner. I Still solely type with one finger (forty wpm, not dangerous, huh?).