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Tuscaloosa native longs to ‘make positive impact for Christ’comment (0)

November 22, 2012

Tuscaloosa native longs to ‘make positive impact for Christ’

You might say that Ford Nixon’s call to missions began on the baseball field. 

Nixon attended his first baseball camp at Baseball Country in Northport as a 6-year-old slugger. Baseball Country teaches more than just athletic skills. Players at the camp practice the fundamentals of hitting and throwing, but they also hear the gospel in daily devotions and prayer times. 

Year after year Nixon went back to camp, and when he got too old to be a camper he became a coach. That, he said, was his first experience with local missions.

“You go to Baseball Country to learn about baseball and have fun, but the main focus is on Christ,” Nixon said. 

In 2005, Nixon’s relationship with Kenny Burns, director of Baseball Country, provided him an opportunity to accompany Burns and others on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic. The trip was organized by SCORE International, a missions organization headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., and the team’s primary evangelism tool was baseball. The team went from town to town, playing against local baseball teams and sharing the gospel with the opposing team and their fans. 

“That trip was when I realized missions was something I was passionate about,” Nixon said. “I felt I was fulfilling part of the Great Commission, and I realized I wanted to do as much of this as I can.”

Now 24, the Tuscaloosa native works as a firefighter in his hometown, but missions has continued to be a big part of his life. During his college years at the University of Alabama he became a mentor to two young brothers in Tuscaloosa through Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

“It’s pretty cool how the relationship has evolved over the last four years,” Nixon said. “I keep a check on them and talk to their mom on a weekly basis, and we really consider them part of our family now.”

Nixon’s commitment to international missions has stayed firm as well. After his first trip to the Dominican Republic, he returned in 2007 and 2008 with SCORE. In 2010, he participated in his first summer missions trip to Honduras with his church, Valley View Baptist, Tuscaloosa, in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association. The annual trip focuses primarily on evangelism and medical/dental clinics. Nixon returned in 2011 and 2012, and this past summer he had the opportunity to preach during the tent revival services held in the small town of Teupasenti. 

“We give away shoes and clothing and we set up a pharmacy and an eyeglasses clinic as part of our work, but our main goal is to make sure these people hear the gospel,” Nixon said. 

Nixon’s most recent missions trip was to an orphanage near Kampala, Uganda. Nixon said the trip was different from others because he spent most of his time ministering to the young residents.

“On other trips we might see 2,000 kids in one week, but in Uganda we saw the same kids for two weeks and developed relationships with them,” Nixon said. “By the end, they were kind of like my little brothers and sisters.”

Those who wrote in support of Nixon’s nomination for the 2012 Alabama Baptist Outstanding Missions Volunteer of the Year praised his ability to connect with others. They all agreed that above all, Nixon’s spiritual maturity makes him an excellent choice for the award. 

“Ford is a young man who is amazing and refreshing,” wrote Mark Seagle, former associate pastor at Valley View Baptist. 

“He simply takes his everyday, ordinary life and infuses that life with the name and fame of Christ … whether it be in his job, at Baseball Country or on a ball field on another continent,” Seagle wrote.

Family friend Rex Shanner, a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association, has known Nixon since he was an infant. Shanner praised Nixon’s lack of prejudice and his “servant attitude” and said he considers it a great blessing to see the “godly man” Nixon has become. 

Though honored to be recognized for his missions work, Nixon said his sole motivation is his desire to be obedient to God’s call to share the gospel.

“God has blessed me in a huge way, and I know that nothing I can do can repay the price he paid for me,” Nixon said. “I want to do all I can to make a positive impact for Christ and to lead others to Him.”

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