Most people don’t think of flying basketballs, high rebounds, and tough competition when you say “I’m meeting with the pastor.” But Dave Halloway, pastor at Godwin Heights Baptist Church in Robeson County, is running some tough b-ball games. Usually, when I meet with pastors, I am dressed up in some fancy outfit with heels. But this day, I came dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes. It was the pastor and me against three teenagers. Two on three.
There was already one teenager shooting and warming up as I pulled into the parking lot at 8 a.m. I got out of the car, introduced myself and just looked at him. He was serious. I was a bit unsure of how to make conversation since the pastor was not there yet, so I told him that I drove all the way from Chapel Hill to meet him. He did not seem to budge from his concentration. I felt bad for interrupting his warm-up. Another player arrived. They looked so much alike that I asked if they were brothers. They nodded. Soon, the last teen arrived, and we were all shooting and warming-up.
I kept throwing air balls and missing lay-ups. I could not understand why I could not at least hit the rim. I was throwing the ball hard. I asked them how high was the hoop and why did they put it up so high. They boys smiled and kind of chuckled. They were not going to break concentration. But I also was not trying to be funny. One of the teens said that I was missing my shots on purpose. To that I had to laugh–a hard belly laugh. “Why would you think I was missing my shots on purpose? I am not joking, I am really putting forth effort.” The other boys agreed with the first. I was baffled. I was trying to get the ball in the hoop and hoping to make some friends along the way. I thought we were going to have a nice pleasant basketball game full of good sport–but apparently not.
“We are going to take you down. We have a world-class basketball player who will out shine you all with her three point shots.” That was Pastor Halloway talking. I didn’t even know where the three-points line was. But then I understood why the seriousness from the boys and why they thought I was playing. “I’ve been talking about you for a long time to these boys, and how good you are, and how they do not have a chance at scoring.” Pastor Halloway interrupted my thoughts process. Was he joking? Did he really think I was good?
You see, Pastor Halloway and I had actually met once before. He hosted a PHW event at his church where I spoke. From our past conversations, I shared with him that I had played basketball in high school (more than 10 years ago) and that my sister had tried out for the WNBA and played professional basketball overseas.
Somewhere between our conversations, the message went from me once playing basketball to me actually being a current basketball addict, which is how this particular game got introduced. Pastor Dave wanted us to play against these boys to show them that playing basketball is not just a teen or a pro-ball player sport–but that regular adults can play and play hard.
We ended up playing a tough game. Afterwards, we shared some laughs, some replays on who did what, and personal remarks. The best lesson is that we had fun, built relationships, and exercised hard. It was an excellent time.
After the game, the pastor was taking 58 children to the park for a hike and kickball game. Many of the youth want to participate in dancing–an interest of mine. I am hoping to return to collaborate with the youth leader on a dance project and healthier options for the young people. Pastor Halloway runs a weight-lifting program for teens in the community three days a week. It was a pleasure to see how he models eating healthy, exercising, and rest.
Godwin Heights has achieved Silver Certification with Partners in Health and Wholeness and will be eligible for a PHW grant. Congratulations to Pastor Dave for being a light to a dark world, and for inviting me to an excellent basketball game!
–Joy Williams, PHW Regional Consultant
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the NC Council of Churches. Please visit our website to view more resources on health and faith.