They came for the sports and left with inspiration, too.
More than a dozen professional athletes organized by The Rock Church in San Diego, Calif., put on an inspiring display of sporting prowess and faith for hundreds of youth who turned up for Superfest 2013.
Now in its third season, the annual event took place at the Point Loma Nazarene University's seaside campus on Jan. 26 in a charged atmosphere of running, jumping, basketball, football, tennis and a bunch of other sports, and left a lasting impression on the youth in attendance.
"The kids enjoyed not only playing sports but learning about character and a relationship with God," said Mei Ling Starkey, a Rock Church media relations representative, in an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday.
In a telling testimony of his faith, professional skater Christian Hosoi talked about overcoming his eight-year addiction to crystal meth.
"My life finally spun completely out of control," recalled Hosoi, according to The Rock Church media release. "…I made the mistake of carrying a whole bunch of drugs onto an airplane and I got arrested," he said.
That arrest was the warning bell for the skater. It told him, "if you keep doing what you're doing, life as you know it will be over."
"All this fame and connections that I had, that could make me feel good, people saying 'you're the best, you're the world champion'…that doesn't satisfy you on the inside. That's why I fight the good fight of faith, that's why I am a champion of faith," he told the youth.
Darrell Stucky of the Chargers and former defensive end Jacques Cesaire talked with the audience about playing like champions on and off the field while Padres' catcher Nick Hundley hosted a catching and throwing clinic.
Tyrone Lester who attended the event with his two sons Jaylen, 7, and Christian, 4, said it was an inspiring experience for him and his boys. "It means a lot for me," he said. "Growing up, I used to do track and field and soccer but I didn't have the father figure to push me, to motivate me. I didn't have anyone to motivate me. Having a child now who's into sports so much, and he's really good at it, it does give me the pleasure just to motivate him and keep pushing him." Jaylen hopes to become a running back in the NFL.
Well known for their community service in San Diego, the Rock Church donated $9.6 million worth of volunteer service to the San Diego Community in 2009 at a time when California was facing a $20.7 billion budget deficit for the following year. In December 2010, the church donated 10,000 toys and 60,000 pounds of food to needy families in the community.
The Rock Church is San Diego's largest church and the fourth largest church in Southern California, according to Outreach Magazine's 2012 "100 Largest Churches in America" report. It was started in 2000 by Pastor Miles McPherson, a former NFL player. Pastor McPherson's latest book , God in the Mirror: Discovering Who You Were Created To Be, is set to be released on March 1, 2013, by the Baker Publishing Group.
In the book, McPherson encourages readers to think less of themselves and more about God's plan for their life. God in the Mirror is also accompanied by a six session DVD and discussion guide that will equip individuals, small groups, and church classes to grapple with what it means to be made in the image of God and what the implications are for their daily lives. More than 12,300 people attend the Rock's five Sunday services.