Ala. star Barrett Jones enjoys 'every second' on mission
JINOTEGA, Nicaragua (BP) -- Barrett Jones, a 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound football player for the University of Alabama would stand out anywhere.
But his love for God and his commitment to sharing the Gospel also make him stand out from most of his peers.
"I don't want to be known as a football player who happens to be a Christian, I want to be known as a Christian who happens to play football," said Jones, an All-American for the 2011 national champion Crimson Tide.
|At Shalom Baptist Church in Jinotega, Nicaragua, Barrett Jones, University of Alabama offensive lineman, shares a message on how God -- not sports, money, success or relationships -- can fill a personís heart. Rafael Castro translates. BP Photo|
A longtime member of Bellevue Baptist Church of Cordova, Tenn., near Memphis, Jones organized and led a team of 31 of his friends and family members on a mission trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua, during his spring break, March 11-16.
The team participated in several nightly revival services at Shalom Baptist Church in Jinotega and visited three public schools and an orphanage. At each location, they gave their personal testimonies, presented the Gospel story and interacted with the children by playing sports and games and simply reflecting God's love.
The 21-year-old Jones made his priorities in his testimony at the revival service at Shalom Baptist on March 13.
"Tonight, I want to talk to you a little bit about what I'm really passionate about," he told the crowd, "and that's not football -- it's Jesus Christ."
This is the third mission trip Jones has organized and led -- the past two spring breaks he has taken mission teams to Haiti where they constructed bathrooms for refugees, painted a school building and built a basketball court.
"I love this trip [to Nicaragua] because it's all about presenting the Gospel -- that's the main purpose of it," Jones said. "It's not to build a school -- those [were] great trips, too.
"But this is the most important kind of trip," Jones said, "... to present the Gospel. This trip could have an eternal effect, hopefully, on some people's lives."
Jones has garnered an impressive list of academic, athletic and community service honors and awards. He graduated as an accounting major in three years with a 4.0 GPA in the University Honors Program. He will play his fourth season at the Alabama Crimson Tide as a graduate student in accounting.
He is involved in Campus Crusade for Christ and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In 2011, his football prowess was recognized with the Outland Trophy as the most outstanding interior lineman, the Wuerffel Trophy for exemplary community service as well as athletic and academic achievement, and 2011 SEC Scholarship Athlete of the Year.
Between classes, study, football practice and games, spring break is the only free time Jones has during the year.
"[People always] say, 'Man, that's awesome that you're giving up your spring break to go on mission trips,' and I say to them, 'I'm not giving up anything.'
"This is the most fun I could ever have ... to go on a trip like this and experience this with likeminded Christians and spread the Gospel ... that's what I love to do, and I'm not just saying that.
"I've been to the beach a million times," Jones said, "and I don't really remember one specific beach trip. But I remember every second and every day of every mission trip I've ever been on."
Laura Fielding is a writer for the International Mission Board.