Below is a photo of my good friend Chuck Dickerson and me. Originally, Chuck and I met back when I worked for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Chuck is the assistant gymnastics coach at the University of Kentucky and is originally from Texas. I was reminded today of Chuck’s story as we were doing our weekly study together. We have been looking at the Seven Signs in John and today, when discussing the boldness of the man born blind as he stood in front of the Pharisees a healed man, Chuck recalled the boldness of a young gymnast he met back in 1998…
Benita Mueller was fifteen years old. She had pleaded with her then club gymnastics coach to go to church with her. Chuck finally gave in and after attending church with her for two weeks, Chuck began to advertise his church attendance with the others around the gym to boost his reputation among parents of the kids. Shortly thereafter, in November of 1998, Benita penned Chuck a handwritten letter “calling him out,” but in a “very gentle and loving way.” In Chuck’s words, “She let me know that I was not a real Christian.” She went on to explain the Gospel and invite Chuck to fully trust in Christ and surrender to Him. Chuck, initially angered by the young gymnast’s letter, soon found himself in the bathroom sobbing and under conviction by what he now knows was the Holy Spirit. The following Sunday, Chuck went with Benita to church and at the conclusion of the message “went forward” with her at his side to publicly profess a desire to begin a relationship with Christ and be baptized.
I am encouraged by Chuck’s story, because I think many of us find ourselves in situations where we fail to realize the influence we can have on others–even those that are in positions of authority over us (parents, coaches, teachers, supervisors, and yes, coaches.) Chuck’s story reminds us all that God can use us to influence our elders and lead them into His Kingdom.
Now, as assistant coach at Kentucky, Chuck is influencing all who meet him to pursue Christ. Since I have known him, he has had the privilege to see many of his athletes make that same commitment to Christ that he made 18 years ago. This season, the Kentucky Gymnastics Team had their best season in school history (something that seems to have escaped the local media). His team will compete one week from Saturday in the sectionals and have a great chance to make it to the NCAA Championships for the first time in school history.
Follow UK Gymnastics at: http://ukathletics.com/sport/w-gym
Contact Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a slightly bizarre selfy of Coach and I this morning at McDonalds where we meet each week…