Sports is a great way to introduce young people to the Lord
By Linda Hass
Jeff Totten, baseball chapel leader to the Detroit Tigers, has helped Christian athletes develop a heart for Jesus since 1991. On Sunday, Jan. 29, Totten will bring his wisdom and insight to Heart O’ The Lakes Church, 7031 Jefferson Road, sharing what the Bible has to say about topics like teamwork, good sportsmanship and keeping your eye on the prize.
Totten will speak at the 10:30 a.m. worship service, which is open to the public, and at 7 p.m. to the men’s sports teams, including the church’s basketball teams. Both talks will take place in the sanctuary.
“As we sought God’s guidance on how best to represent Totten’s visit, we realized it was bigger than sports – it’s about developing a Christ-like attitude in everything you do. We wanted to share that with the whole community, so we decided to open up his Sunday morning talk to the public,” said Jon Hawthorne, a HOTL worship leader and a coach for one of the church’s basketball teams.
“We’ll be sending out information to the guys on our basketball team as well as other men’s teams, inviting them to bring their friends. Jeff’s talk should be quite inspirational,” added Hawthorne.
Totten’s visit was initiated by Rob Freeman, a chaplain for one of the five men’s basketball teams at HOTL. When Freeman took his team to a worship event at First Church of the Nazarene, Jackson, to hear Totten speak in the fall, he was so inspired he pitched the idea of a follow-up talk at HOTL.
“I was amazed and pleased when Jeff accepted the invitation,” Freeman said. Totten has served as chaplain to the Detroit Tigers since 1991. As part of his responsibilities, he oversees chapels for the Tiger’s minor league affiliates and spring training.
“Many people look up to Jeff and the Detroit Tigers; in a way, his presence and his message legitimizes maintaining a Christ-like attitude in everyday life,” added Freeman.
While Totten’s visit is “bigger” than sports, there’s no denying it was inspired by them. Heart O’ the Lakes Church has sponsored a men’s basketball team for decades, with the first half of the season generally beginning in November and the second half beginning in January and ending in March. Games are played Monday nights at HOTL and Thursday nights at the First Baptist Church of Brooklyn, culminating with the Carpenter Classic Tournament.
The church’s five teams, with players ranging from 14 to 50 years, are among the Tri-County Men’s Basketball League comprised of teams from Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale counties.
League eligibility requirements include attending three church services in four weeks before starting in the league and one service a week during the season. Each team has a coach or chaplain.
“A lot of the guys don’t have a church they attend; in effect, we are their church. From that perspective, this league offers them a chance to find out more about Jesus. For other players who were believers, the league is a chance to be drawn back. And for those of us who are believers, it’s a wonderful reinforcement and chance to give back,” said Hawthorne.
HOTL offers Sunday night Bible studies prior to practice and scrimmage time in the gym, Hawthorne said. “Teams also meet with their coach and chaplains and have an hour Bible study, discussing God’s word and how following Jesus changes lives, both on and off the court,” he added.
For more information about Totten’s visit to HOTL Church, call the church office at 517-592-8623 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Sunday, Jan. 29, baseball chapel leader to the Detroit Tigers will bring his wisdom and insight to Heart O’ The Lakes Church, 7031 Jefferson Road, sharing what the Bible has to say about topics like teamwork, good sportsmanship and keeping your eye on the prize. For more information about Totten’s visit to HOTL Church, call the church office at 592-8623 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.