To Make a Difference
Nov 1, 2020 | by Nancy Newbrough
I have prayed a simple prayer almost every day for the last 25 years -- that God would use me to make a difference in the lives of other people and to further His kingdom. That simple prayer has had amazing results. I have always known that teachers and coaches have a lot of influence on teenagers, but I also felt God calling me to do more than just teach about math, football and basketball. So, in my math classes, we started to do a “Thought of the Day.” This meant spending five minutes at the beginning of class talking about this “Thought of the Day,” which had absolutely nothing to do with math ... and everything to do with life. Many of these thoughts came from Biblical sources. Years later, when I was doing In School Suspension, these “Thoughts of the Day” turned into character lessons where I talked to troubled youth about setting and making goals, the power of positive thinking, and the benefits of hard work.
Then God got me thinking about how I could make a difference in the school as a whole. This led to me writing a daily devotional for believers teaching at my school. How much would my school change for the better if teachers were encouraged to live out their faith each and every day without fear? This devotional exploded into a much wider scope than I could ever have dreamed. It now reaches more than 100 teachers in six different school districts. God is amazing!
In 2012, God started to put on my heart that I needed to leave public school. I was eligible to retire in 2018, but had not really thought about leaving teaching that soon. With two boys who would not be graduating from high school for another ten years and then possibly thinking about going to college, how could I afford to stop teaching? But I felt God promising that He would take care of and provide for us.
And how He has! Literally, my last day as an employee of Spring Branch Independent School District, I was approached by the Multi-Area Director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the West Houston area. He wanted me to come on board as part-time staff and focus on schools they had not had enough personnel to reach. My wife and I prayed over the opportunity and both came to the conclusion that this was where God wanted me.
Two months later, we found out why God led me to Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). My mother-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The flexible schedule I have with FCA allows me to take my mother-in-law to most of her doctor and chemotherapy appointments -- something I would not have been able to do if still teaching and coaching. It has also allowed me to be a bigger part of my boys’ lives since I was no longer have 12- to 14-hour workdays. I now understood why God had put retirement on my heart.
But where God has been really moving is through FCA. My job is to mentor and disciple coaches so they can then share their faith with students. God has put coaches into my life who are doing amazing things with FCA student huddles in their schools. In October 2019, we had our first Fields of Faith event in Sealy at the football stadium. This was just one big praise and worship gathering along with a speaker who presented the Gospel. More than 300 people attended with 41 students making a decision to follow Jesus Christ and another 35 making decisions to grow in their faith in Christ. Plans are in the works to do another Fields of Faith in the spring of 2021. The FCA chapter at Columbus High School was so inspired by the event that they are planning their own Fields of Faith this coming March.
God is opening more doors as well. Recently I began working with an elite softball program where once a month, I facilitate a devotional with the girls on the teams. It is exciting to see where this is going to lead!
I keep praying that every day, God will use me to make a difference in the lives of others and to further His kingdom. And every day, I am awed at what God is doing! It is truly amazing how the Lord will use you ... if you are just willing to put yourself out there for Him.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times, having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8