Oklahoma City’s Cherokee Hills Baptist Church ‘Adopts’ High School Football Players

Brian Meister, student pastor at Oklahoma City's Cherokee Hills Baptist Church, shows Keaire Wilkins a photo of his touchdown catch for the Putnam City High School Pirates. Cherokee Hills is connecting with the football team by "adopting" various players and cheering them on at home games. Photo by Emily Brashier
Brian Meister, student pastor at Oklahoma City’s Cherokee Hills Baptist Church, shows Keaire Wilkins a photo of his touchdown catch for the Putnam City High School Pirates. Cherokee Hills is connecting with the football team by “adopting” various players and cheering them on at home games.
Photo by Emily Brashier

How can a church impact its community? How about adopting a high school football team?

Cherokee Hills Baptist Church is investing in Putnam City High School as families “adopt” players on the Pirates’ football team by going to home games and cheering them on. The idea happened as pastor Mike Keahbone was looking for ways the Oklahoma City church could have a community presence.

“We started praying for God to open doors,” Keahbone recounted. “And Kyle Hale [Putnam City assistant football coach] started coming to our church earlier this year.”

Keahbone got to know Hale better as church members served lunch to the players during the preseason two-a-days practices.

At one of the lunches, Keahbone asked Hale how many players are on the team, and Hale said about 80 guys are on the roster.

“And the Lord prompted me to ask the next question,” Keahbone said, “which was, ‘Out of those 80, how many would not have anybody out there watching them play on Friday nights?’ [Hale] thought about it for a second and said, ‘I’d say about 80-90 percent of them.’ It broke my heart.”

Right then, Keahbone knew what his church could do. He asked Hale to send him a roster, particularly noting the 60 players who did not have any family supporting them at ballgames.

“What if our church adopted those 60 players?” Keahbone said of the idea that came to mind. “What if we could rally around them and have people sign up to ‘adopt’ a player, wear a shirt that had that kid’s [jersey] number and make a commitment to make it to every home game? Whether they play or not, they can look over their shoulder and see someone in the stands just for them. After the game, go where the team is at, shake the player’s hand and tell him you’re proud of him.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Chris Doyle/Baptist Messenger