Former Parkersburg High School athletes Tyler Warner and Matt Lindamood are making a Christian difference around the world.
Warner, a member of Athletes in Action sports ministry at the University of Kentucky, went on a golf mission trip to Kenya Jan. 7-18 with his father, Parkersburg businessman Don Warner, and a group of collegiate and professional golfers. They brought golf equipment and the Gospel to the Africans.
Lindamood, a student leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at West Virginia University before graduating in December, plans to work at a football camp in Israel from March 7-20. He will be joined by other former and current college and professional athletes, through FCA's ministry, teaching football to Israeli high school students and Israel Football League players and coaches and spreading the word of God.
Warner said the golf trip through Athletes in Action was designed to open doors in relationships with the people of Kenya.
Despite its arid conditions, location on the equator and poverty, Kenyans of all ages love to play golf. The group met children from the slums, successful businessmen and government officials, Warner said.
Warner learned that 80 percent of Kenyans are Christian and give what little money some have to churches. AIA uses a platform of sports to bring people to Christ, Warner said.
Seven children from the slums of Nairobi, many without shoes, accepted Christ as their Savior during the golf sessions, Warner said. The AIA team also played basketball with the children and watched a dance team perform.
"The kids loved it," Warner said. On the last couple days of the trip, the group went on a safari, reflected and rested. "It was an amazing experience," he said.
They played on four Kenyan golf courses, some of which had very real hazards. One course had a cobra hole - named for the snake slithering nearby in the bushes. In one fairway, Warner looked down and saw a tarantula.
Traveling overseas for the first time opened Warner's eyes. The trip hit home for him how fortunate and blessed we are in America.
"The Kenyans live simply. They rely on the Lord everyday for water (and other necessities)," he said.
Warner plans to continue in a second year of internship with AIA, Bluegrass Region in Kentucky with a goal of growing his faith and leading others to Christ. He hopes to lead his own ministry someday.
In April, Lindamood will be joining a full-time mission in Ocala, Fla., as team chaplain for a United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League team, the Ocala Stampede, co-owned by St. Marys native Bill Reed.
"I am so very much looking forward to being part of this mission to share with young men that there is more to life than sports," Lindamood said. The Stampede website describes it as a training program combining athletic play and a platform for spiritual mentoring.
Last month, Lindamood spoke at the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular at the Charleston Civic Center, featuring Christian singers and bands and testimonies. The event packed the Civic Center with 11,000 people and another 1,000 standing outside, he said.
Lindamood said the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is providing him with a $1,000 scholarship to go on the mission trip to Israel, but he still needs money to cover expenses. Contributions can be sent, with a check payable to FCA with Matt Lindamood-Israel trip in the memo line, to Matt Lindamood at 426 Paddock Green Drive, Parkersburg, WV 26104.
Besides their strong religious beliefs, Warner and Lindamood have other things in common: both played on the PHS state champion football teams in 2006 and 2007, graduated from PHS in 2008, played college football and earned degrees in exercise physiology from Marshall University and WVU, respectively.
Contact Paul LaPann at firstname.lastname@example.org