SULPHUR—It does not happen often, but when a city and a church can come together for the purpose of the community, it needs to be shared.
In July, Mark Williams started his ministry at Sulphur, Crossway as the recreation minister. However, that was not his only title. He also works for the City of Sulphur as the director of Crosstown Sports, the city’s sports league for kids in 6th grade and younger.
Sitting in Crossway’s community center, Williams shared how Sulphur’s city leaders and the church agreed to allow Crossway to be in charge of the city’s sports league.
“It took a lot of prayer,” said Williams. “(The church) did not know God was calling a sports minister on their staff. But Pastor Bill Leveridge had a passion of trying to reach the community any possible way they could. God gave him that vision of coming into the community and changing the culture. A lot of people need Christ, and Crosstown Sports offers that outreach through a positive way of looking at sports as a way of encouraging kids instead of playing the sport.”
Williams said the city voted for the church to take over Sulphur’s existing sports league that was struggling to exist. He said nobody was willing to stick with it, and the city was looking for someone to take it over and make it stronger. The league offers both tackle and flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball.
This fall, Crosstown Sports had its first tackle football season. Three teams for 4th-6th graders suited up and faced other community teams from nearby towns including Davis and Pauls Valley.
Along with having regular practice sessions and game times, this league is set up for the team’s coaches to share devotions and prayer times with the players. Already after the first season, players and cheerleaders have made professions of faith. Williams said there have been opportunities for coaches to baptize their players.
Crosstown Sports is impacting families, too. Williams said a mother of a player made a profession faith, and a grandparent rededicated his life after seeing the impact the league has made on his grandson.
“I try to talk with every parent,” said Williams. “We want the best experience for their child. One mother told me her son had a bad experience playing in another league when he was younger. Now as a fourth grader, he is excited to play sports again.”
The league enforces a code of conduct for everyone involved, including coaches, parents and players. They observe prayer at every game.
Also, an abundance of Crossway members are involved in the many aspects of the league. Williams said he had about 80 members sign up for the first day to volunteer, so there are church members involved in field preparation, ticket gates, and concessions. One lady, Williams said, asked to be in charge of concessions, saying this was her ministry.
Williams also has much support from the community and other churches. One church, he said, gave $2,500 to Crosstown Sports.
The future is bright for Crosstown Sports in its six months of existence. There are opportunities for more family involvement. Williams said in its flag football league they have times for fathers to come play quarterback for their children’s teams.
Though it may be unique, this model of having both city officials and church leadership working together to promote children’s sports impacts the community.
“When the city joins in, it makes it such a smooth transition,” said Williams. “We will never compromise the Gospel. The rest is stuff to help kids along the way (of life). It’s a blessing, and it’s rewarding.”