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Crimson Tide offensive lineman Barrett Jones uses football to share Christcomment (0)

November 20, 2012


Crimson Tide offensive lineman Barrett Jones uses football to share Christ

Offensive lineman Barrett Jones hoists the gleaming crystal trophy into the air while thousands in the stadium cheer and his teammates celebrate — the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team had won the 2009 BCS (Bowl Championship Series) National Championship over the University of Texas.

Grueling hours of practice, training and watching films had finally paid off. But in that moment, one thought struck Barrett: “This is great, but this is what all that work was for — this crystal trophy — something that will break?”

And break it did. A few months after the championship an accident left the trophy, worth tens of thousands of dollars, shattered on the ground. It put things into perspective for Barrett.

“What a symbol of things of the world,” he said. “Something I worked so hard for and put so much into, someone just knocked it over and it breaks. And that’s exactly how the things of the world are — it’s a great picture of when you invest in other things and you make other things your idol above God, that they’re going to crumble.”

A 22-year-old graduate student at Alabama, Barrett has garnered a slew of awards and achievements during his football career: the Wuerffel Award for combining exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement, the Outland Trophy for the best college football interior lineman, being named NCAA unanimous All-American, being part of two national championship seasons and graduating with a 4.0 GPA in accounting in three years.

But for the towering 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound football player, the trophies and achievements are nothing compared to what he is truly passionate about — sharing the gospel.

“If I’m known as Barrett Jones — he’s a great Alabama football player — then I’m not doing my job,” he said. “I want to be known as Barrett Jones — he’s a Christian who happens to play football — not a football player who happens to be a Christian.

“My faith is the most important thing to me, it’s not just (an) important thing to me on a list of things. … I feel like [God’s] called me to go and to tell people about Him, so that’s my main job.”

This past March during spring break, Barrett, a member of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., organized and led his third missions trip. Thirty-one of his friends, family and fellow Bellevue members headed to Jinotega, Nicaragua, to share the gospel. He previously led groups to minister in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

A servant’s heart is something Barrett’s parents, Rex and Leslie, instilled in all their sons at an early age. Barrett accompanied his parents on a missions trip to Honduras, along with his two younger brothers, Harrison and Walker, as a fifth-grader. The 2001 trip helped shape the boys’ worldview.

“I think missions is something that’s extremely important to the Christian community because God is so much bigger than just America — He’s a global God,” Barrett said. “Every time I go on missions trips, I’m reminded how big God is and how big the family and the body of Christ is. … Even though [God] doesn’t need me, He doesn’t need my help, He has called me to do certain things overseas and that’s why I feel blessed to be doing that.”

Barrett also looks for “missions fields” right in his own back yard.

“You can have a variety of missions fields, and I think this [Alabama football] team is a missions field for me,” he said. He also sees the city of Tuscaloosa and the many fans he meets while speaking at churches, awards dinners and Boy Scout meetings as opportunities to talk about Christ.

“[God’s] given me a platform to share my faith where people are interested in hearing about it,” he said. “[It’s] a great opportunity.”

His dad, director of advancement at Evangelical Christian School in Cordova, said he sees Barrett striving to honor Christ in all he does.

“Most people think that fame, fortune and money are really what drives most people, and they don’t with Barrett,” Rex said. “I really believe that most of the awards that he won this year were nothing more than God’s hand preparing the platform for him to be able to share.”

For now, Barrett has put his NFL plans on hold to finish his graduate degree and to spend a year playing football with his younger brother, Harrison. Despite fame and accolades, he is committed to what’s most important.

“As I matured and continued to grow in my faith and read the Bible and prayed, God just showed me His eternal vision,” Barrett said. “I’ve just caught that and realized that sports are going to pass away just like everything else — and the only thing that’s going to matter at the end is your relationship with Christ.”

(BP)

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