Former NFL player challenges teens to shine amid darkness
NACOGDOCHES, Texas (SWBTS) -- When Daryl Jones stepped onto the stage, he knew the several hundred youth seated before him may have expected someone bigger.
"I know some of you are shocked," Jones said to students at the Go Tell student camp on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, July 13. "You heard about a football player-preacher coming to speak, and you see this short dude standing up here. But I serve a big God, and that big God decided not to make me big, but I can run really fast."
Jones, who played wide receiver on the 2001 NCAA National Championship Miami Hurricanes squad as well as several years in the NFL, spoke to students from Matthew 5:14-16 on the importance of shining as lights in a dark world. Using examples from his football days, Jones shared how God uniquely placed him on teams in order to shine the light of the Gospel in those locker rooms. In addition to one-on-one relationships with players, Jones led chapel services and Bible studies during his time as a player.
"[Jesus] wants you to know who you are and where He has placed you," Jones told students. "You are light, and He has placed you in the world."
As Christians shine as lights in the world, Jones said, non-Christians will be offended by the exposure of their own sins.
"The world wants you to get a little dirty because it makes them feel better about their dirt," Jones said.
However, Jones said, the light of Christ also provides an element of peace in the life of an unbeliever similar to the effects of a night light comforting someone who is afraid of the dark.
"Your presence is crucial, and the world needs you," Jones urged students. "Don't ever feel insignificant. Never feel like you don't have a place in life." He pointed to Matthew 5:15, saying Christians are strategically placed by God to give light in all areas of their lives.
Ultimately, Christians shine light into the world by reflecting the light of Christ like the moon reflects the sun's light, Jones said. When Christians do this, the glory goes to God, not themselves.
Jones earned a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament at the seminary. He also serves as youth pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas.