Using the few to impact many
On a roster of 99 football players, three Christian athletes seemed insignificant. Berry College’s 2014 team was a stereotypical blend of students who were more concerned with playing-time than eternity.
“When I first got to Berry, it was like pulling teeth to talk about spiritual things,” Campus Director Josh Tolman said.
But God had bigger plans for Berry's football program.
Through Summer Project, CO discipleship, prayer and commitment, God used those three players to transform the lives of many.
“The type of life-change over the last two years has been winsome,” Josh shared.
"There's a real spiritual awakening and the team has taken notice."
In just five years, the entire team’s culture shifted. Today, CO staff visit practices, travel to games and are an integral part of the team.
“Fast forward to today and we see six or seven guys actively sharing their faith. Guys sit down and are very open to the gospel.
"People are coming to Christ all over the place on campus," Josh said.
“Around 13 to 15 guys on the team have come to Christ. This has influenced the entire campus. Around 81 students overall, including the guys on the team, have come to Christ since the fall of 2015.”
Though the gospel is taking root, real life-change takes time. Experiences like New Year’s Conference and Summer Project give students the opportunity to focus on areas of growth away from their everyday lives. Continued discipleship on campus creates accountability and practical guidance in real-world situations.
"I don't think there's enough awareness of how much impact donors have on the campus,"Josh shared.
“A guy named Luke came to Christ two weeks ago when I bought his meal at the food court and shared the bridge diagram on a napkin. There are people on my support team who will never meet Luke, but God is using them at Berry College.
"When I'm walking on campus, I actively feel the support of donors. They aren't sitting down with us, but they might as well be."
Just as God used three athletes to transform Berry’s football program, one baseball player’s faith prompted similar growth.
“One of the guys from the baseball team was on the 2014 Beach Project,” Josh said. “He came back and helped me start a Bible study with the freshmen on the team. Out of that study came six new Christians, one of which came on staff with CO. Those six Christians started leading their own studies during the past two years and eight more guys came to Christ.”
This growth on Berry’s campus is a wonderful picture of how God uses gospel-centered discipleship for His glory. Through Campus Outreach, God is multiplying believers around the world.
“I honestly look back on it and even now it seems like we did so little,” Josh shared. “We weren’t sharing our faith 24/7, it really was through faithful prayer and consistent commitment in the day to day.”