Due to privacy restrictions, the student's name has been withheld.
I came to Canyon State Academy on March 29, 2017. In July, the football team went to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. When we got there, I thought it was a cool campus, but I wasn’t expecting what I saw the first night.
I remember looking around during worship and thinking, Wow! This is actually pretty cool. I guess you could say I felt welcome there. I felt like I was a part of something that could be greater.
At the end of the week, when they were having a worship night, they asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I can’t describe it, but something just compelled me to do that.
I decided, Yes, I want to be with you, Lord. I want to turn from my sinful ways and be a part of you and walk with you.
Ever since, it has been a struggle. Nobody’s perfect. None, whatsoever, but I am trying to overcome that struggle. I am still walking with God. Every Wednesday morning, bright and early, we do the FCA Bible study (led by Sun Valley Community Church campus pastor Mo Grimm and youth pastor Ronnie Bunton).
The sponsorship program here at Canyon State Academy is amazing. When I was working one day at the academy's café, Miss Kristin, the manager, came up to me and said, “Guess what – I’m sponsoring you for football!”
I was like, “What?!?” I was so surprised, but in a good way. I guess I didn’t think of her sponsoring me because she is my boss. She would come to my games. If she couldn’t, my other sponsor, Miss Tiffany, who runs the thrift store, would come. Sometimes they both came.
I am one of the few kids here who still has a family that loves and supports me. Not only do I have them, but I also have my sponsor family too. To have that extra support is helpful.
I decided, Yes, I want to be with you, Lord. I want to turn from my sinful ways and be a part of you and walk with you. Nobody’s perfect. None, whatsoever, but I am trying to overcome that struggle. I am still walking with God.
Playing on the football team, since you’re with the same guys for six months, we have built a family bond. Most of us keep in contact. I will check in with guys and say, “Hey, how are you doing? You doing good?” It doesn’t have to be long, but I make sure everybody is OK. I try to put them before me. Being on the football team broke me out of my comfort zone.
I have shared what I believe with a few people, but that is something I still have to work on. Sometimes, I’m worried that if I say, “Hey, you know, there’s God,” somebody might respond, “Oh, I don’t care. Why are you talking to me about that?”
I need to work on that, to have the resiliency to bounce back from that, to be able to say, “What I believe is something good, something positive. I’m sorry you don’t agree with me.”
When I started at Canyon State Academy, I was a year behind in school. I enrolled in the GED program, and now I will graduate in May. Since I am graduating early, I am eligible to play football again next season.
Because I have my GED, I am able to attend the Automotive Technology program at East Valley Institute of Technology. I have always wanted to work on cars, and I have a passion to be a mechanic. I am also in the academy's Computer Technicians program to learn how to work on electronics.
Thanks to what God is doing in my life — and the people from Canyon State Academy and Sun Valley Community Church that he brought into it — I will have a greater opportunity to succeed than I ever would have had on my own.
Troy Emenecker, Guest writer
Troy Emenecker is a freelance writer for Converge. He attends a Converge church in Mesa, Arizona.