Adults and students gathered at South Iredell High School on Monday to share, sing, read scripture, and pray during the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ annual Courts for Christ event.

It was a night of encouragement and hope for Christians and those interested in seeking a relationship with Christ.

The event featured a three-point shootout featuring boys and girls basketball players. SIHS basketball players MJ Childers and Nolan Clark scored the most points in the boys competition and Bunker Hill High School’s Olivia Ellis and Faith Isenhour made the most baskets among girls.

But the highlight of the night was when students and others shared their testimonies with the large crowd in an effort to win hearts for Christ.

SIHS junior Zach Dillard was the first to approach the podium. The baseball and football player came to Christ on a Sunday night during an in-house service of singing.

“God touched my heart — if you take the first step to the alter, he’ll help you with the next steps,” Dillard said. “He didn’t promise it will be easy, but he did promise he’ll be by your side.”

Statesville High School senior Karli Townsell runs cross country and track. A “pastor’s kid,” she shared that even though she was in church “every time the doors were open,” it took a while to develop a personal relationship with Christ. Townsell shared how she dabbled in a sinful behavior when she was 8 years old, but she said was able to stop her sinful behavior.

“The Lord throws our sin as far as the East is from the West,” she said. “There’s freedom in Christ.”

West Iredell High School sophomore Eli Josey humbled himself by admitting he had his first interaction with pornography at age 11. He’s now in recovery.

“I was nervous to raise my hand (that I needed Jesus), but I did it anyway,” he said. “It’s about being real and honest.”

North Iredell High School senior Josie Chenevey read a personal poem she wrote about her sin and God’s redeeming love, encouraging others not to give up no matter how many times they mess up.

NIHS basketball coach Jeff Levan also encouraged everyone to accept Christ.

“Do not be ashamed to live for Christ because you’re on the winning team,” Levan said. But if you don’t know him as your Lord and Savior, you’re on the losing team.”

ASEC junior Brixan Burgess took the microphone. He plays football, golf, and wrestles. Even with all his sports, Burgess said he has struggled with depression and anxiety stemming from a pursuit of perfectionism. Feeling isolated because he thought he was not enough, Burgess found freedom in Christ.

“God has a plan for you and me,” he shared. “Your first step is to get saved.”

Leah Church, a 2020 graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, finished the testimonials with a powerful presentation. She shared the many accomplishments in her life, including playing women’s basketball for UNC.

Church holds the world record for shooting three-pointers in a minute and the number of three-pointers shot in a row.

“God can take anyone and do the impossible,” Church said. “Don’t be discouraged by a big dream— we serve an even bigger God.”

In her prime at UNC, she said things changed for the negative, and she chose to stand for her beliefs.

“I was lonely, but we’re called to be set apart,” Church said. “Are we going to stand for our beliefs and walk away or compromise and succumb to the world?”

At the end of the event, Church made an alter call for those feeling called to Christ, telling them the Lord has a pleasing and perfect plan for their lives.

She quoted Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Many raised their hands in a gesture of desiring a relationship with Jesus Christ and made the first step toward a new life.


6 thoughts on “A Night of Encouragement: Students give moving testimonies at FCA Courts for Christ event

  1. Jonell Lewis and James Lewis says:

    This is the best news I have heard lately. I am encouraged as a great grandmother for the children today. This is a very positive action in our community. I will be praying for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Thank you for this story.

  2. Thank you for the coverage. It took great courage for these young people to stand in front of peers and share their heart about Jesus. We are grateful that we were able to be at SIHS and that there are so many coaches and athletes that understand sports can be used as a platform to share the love of Jesus.

  3. Wesley Beckham says:

    As a Campus Leader for FCA, it makes me proud that these young people have no fear and share their faith. The other young people who give up free time and have a desire to come a worship session, this also makes me proud. I am thankful for our school system that allows FCA to be a part of our schools. It was a great night, one that I look forward to each year. Love to see the numbers grow. Can’t wait until next year.

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