I had a tremendous experience Valentine’s weekend as I was invited to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Conference in Pine Needles, North Carolina. Danny and Anne Graham Lotz served as the hosts of this weekend. One of our board members Gaeton Lorino and his wife Cindy went with Lynn and me. It was a unique way for Lynn and me to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary.
I had one of the most fascinating phone calls that I have ever received just a week before the event. Danny Lotz called my friend Albert Long and asked him to call me. Danny’s wife, Anne Graham Lotz, had said that she would be glad to speak at one of the session, but didn’t want to intrude on the schedule. Since I had been given four slots, Albert asked me if it would be okay for Anne Graham Lotz to take one of those. Of course, I told him that she should, and I would be glad to give her two or three or all four slots! That was one of the easiest and best decisions I made that week.
The other speaker was Rev. Ken Smith. He has probably led more chapel services for professional football and baseball teams than anybody else. He has been in fulltime evangelism for years, and has just taken a church in South Florida.
The worship leaders were some young people who lead FCA events. They were extremely good. I was challenged and encouraged by the presentations made by Ken Smith and Anne Graham Lotz. I thank you for your prayers for me in that situation. Being on the same program with Anne Graham Lotz and Ken Smith—I felt like a mule at the Kentucky Derby!
One of the highlights was Saturday afternoon when Anne Graham Lotz offered to lead an informal discussion about some work she had been doing concerning the end times. While it was “free time on the schedule” the room was filled for the whole session.
Later that afternoon three great athletes—Bobby Richardson, Clyde King, and Fisher Deberry—formed a panel to simply answer questions and tell stories about their careers. You see the picture here with the New York Yankee World Series rings on my fingers. Those came from Bobby Richardson and Clyde King. They have 14 World Series rings between them! The big NY of course stands for New York—Clyde said for most teams it stands for “next year.”
Bobby Richardson still holds the record for the most RBI’s in a World Series. He told great stories about Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Roger Maris, etc. After a playing and managing career Clyde King became general manager of the Yankees and told some great stories about Steinbrenner. Fisher Deberry was one of the best college coaches as he took the Air Force Academy and beat some of the great nationally ranked teams.
Bobby Richardson told about the experience of spending the last days with Mickey Mantle. He led him to a profession of faith in Christ. A few days before he died Bobby’s wife Betsy wanted to be sure that Mantle understood what he had done, so she spent time with him to be sure of his salvation. When she was convinced, it had to be real! Bobby said that he has conducted funerals services now for about eight of his former Yankee teammates.
It was a special blessing to be a part of that weekend. This is just one of those doors that God has opened for me in this ministry.