Athletes build Christ-centered community with Bible study

Lancer swimmers, divers, volleyball players, cheerleaders, basketball players, Crazies and fans come together on Sunday nights for a deeper community.

Walking into California Baptist University’s North Colony at 7:30 p.m., it is quiet with the exception of a car or two coming or going for the night. Approaching building A, the noise begins to pick up. The front door of one of the downstairs apartments is open, allowing conversation to spill out, inviting passers-by to stop.

They talk to their neighbors on the couches in the crowded apartment. There are 24 people at the Athletes Tribe, an established Bible study for them. After waiting a few minutes past the scheduled time to start, Scott Liddell, senior exercise science major, swimmer and co-leader of the tribe, begins by asking an “epic question,” a basic yet thought-provoking question to break the ice.

Liddell then splits everyone into smaller groups, allowing for a more intimate study time. The athletes mingle, some opting to sit on the hard, carpeted floor. Others hunch over their knees in their dining room chairs so they can hear better.

In the small groups, each has a chance to share his or her thoughts, opinions and interpretations of the designated scripture.

Before too long, it is time to meld back into the bigger group. Some are hesitant to leave the smaller community they discovered for the night.

Liddell stands at the front of the room, his eyes alternating between moving around the room and looking at his tablet where the night’s verses — Matthew 5:43-6:4 — glow back.

“What does this passage say about man? Does anything jump out at you guys?” he said.

Christie Halverson, freshman pre-nursing major and swimmer, said the passage reminds her that humans still need reinforcement because they desire to hear what others have to say about them. Where humans are always seeking things that will gratify them, God sees their hearts. She said it is not rare for everyone to do things just to see what someone will say about it.

Pride is no strange feeling to the athletes in the room. Jackson Burge, sophomore pre-nursing major and outside hitter for the men’s volleyball team, said athletes love their sports, but that love is not the only driving force behind their athletic careers.

“We do it for the rings, we do it for the wins and we do it for the recognition. (Fans) build you up, and that just shows how prideful we are. We should be humble about it and say thank you,” Burge said. “We should play our sports or do whatever we do to glorify God rather than to glorify ourselves.”

At the front of the room, Liddell said Burge made a good point.

“Whether we’re at the top of our team or not, that should be overshadowed by our sharing the gospel,” Liddell said. “That is the most important thing you can do on your team or in any other place you may be.”

They said they know the stereotypes people have formed, they know the world sees them as prideful who know how to do very little else other than succeed at their sport. But Liddell and his co-leader Dulce Velasquez, junior business administration and sociology double major and cheerleader, know there is more to their community than what meets the eye.

As co-leaders of the tribe, one of their goals is to draw at least one member from each team to the weekly gathering.

“Seeing the gospel have some light in athletics is comforting, but it also makes me keep pushing,” Velasquez said. “Athletics is a very lost world because it is its own world, and especially because 99 percent of athletes are here because they are getting paid to be here. If God’s given us the opportunity to do it, then why not do it?”

Liddell said it is important for athletes to have a Christ-centered community around them because of the lack of proclaiming Christians in the sports world.

“Tribe gives us an opportunity to equip athletes to go back into their sports and share the gospel,” he said.

About Grace Allen

Sports Editor

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