As I was running this morning, I was reminded of a story I heard many years ago. I have shared this story multiple times and it reflects beautifully the mission of Omega.
Hebrews 12: 1 says: “Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back…….and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”
Being a coach at a local Christian High School differs from being a coach at a public school. A private school has a smaller student body so a coach is limited on the pick of athletes to join a team. One afternoon, Coach was walking down the hall at the end of the season when he noticed a large young student walking with his head hanging low and not interacting with other students. The Coach stopped the young man, introduced himself, and asked the kid’s name. The kid answered quietly that his name was John. When Coach asked if he ever played football, John shyly responded that he had not. The Coach asked if he would be interested in playing football next season. John slowly shook his head and mumbled ‘yes’. The Coach gave John directions to meet him at his office the following Wednesday. When Wednesday came around Coach explained what John could expect, starting with daily doubles for a month in the summer and afterward join the team at training camp. The focus of the camp was to prepare the candidates for the fall. John quietly promised to try his hardest. Coach stated the importance of working hard, and if John missed any practices, he would not make the team.
In August, daily doubles started. When it was time to try on helmets, there was not a size that was large enough for John. After a few phone calls to the local university, a helmet was found. The strenuous training during a hot August day was challenging for even the fittest athlete. And John was not an athlete. The conditioning was brutal. The Coach encouraged John, and John slowly started interacting with the rest of the teammates. John wasn’t social by nature, but Coach began to notice a little change in his demeanor and sense of self-worth.
During the last day of daily doubles, everyone set out for training camp. As expected, the weather was scorching hot. On the second day of the camp, Coach had the team run around the lake twice and if they completed the challenge, they would make the team and celebrate! The whistle blew, and the team took off. Leading the pack were the running backs, corners, and safeties. The linemen were bringing up the rear and finally, John was in the back of the group.
Once the running backs rounded the corner and crossed the finish line, they ran straight to cool off in the lake. Soon behind them came the rest of the team, yet John was nowhere to be seen. Finally, Coach noticed John coming around the bend. Coach saw the look on John’s face and was sure John was going to quit. Coach yelled, “Don’t give up on me John! Don’t Give up on me!” But the look in John’s eyes was one of defeat. Coach’s words didn’t seem to have an effect on John. All of the sudden, one of John’s teammates clapped his hands and shouted “Come on John! You can do it!” Soon, four others were clapping and shouting, and then the whole team joined. “John, you can do it, don’t give up!” The change in John’s demeanor could be seen instantly and John picked up his pace and finally crossed the finish line. Then John aimed straight for the lake and jumped in exhaustedly with the rest of the team, celebrating.
Omega is much like John’s teammates. The coffee shops and mentors that Omega partners with are on the sidelines cheering on our interns. We encourage, ‘Don’t give up! You’ve got this!” Even when the choices they face are difficult and exhausting, knowing they have a team of people cheering and encouraging them, makes a positive impact. What a joy to see the demeanor of these women change to one of determination. Thanks for cheering with us.