Tags: Athletics, Spiritual Life, Young Alumni
I can still remember the first time I saw a Wheaton Football Ministry Partnership (WFMP) video during my recruiting trip to Wheaton. As I watched the video I had to hold back tears in that Sports and Recreation Center classroom, which was shocking to me as an eighteen-year-old wannabe tough guy recruit who didn't want to care about much more than football. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of those trips. Not surprisingly, as a student and player at Wheaton College from 2009-13, I made sure that I went on every WFMP trip Wheaton offered.
Looking back, that meeting with WFMP played a huge role in my decision to come to Wheaton. God was in the process of awakening something in my heart: a desire to do something significant, something selfless with my life. Something that was eternal. I had not planned on caring much about that. I figured I would go to Wheaton, make some good friends, strengthen my faith in some way, and then graduate. I didn't have plans to live boldly for Jesus or actually rely on my faith in a tangible way. However, God knew that I needed to be challenged. In the end, it was WFMP that made me say yes not only to Wheaton football but also to a living a life that matters, as Coach Jeff Peltz likes to remind us at the end of his emails.
I learned through WFMP trips that living like it matters is only possible when Christ is the foundation and the motivation for whatever we're doing. Everything else we do will fade. I also learned the value and joy of tangibly living by faith. Rubbing shoulders with former Wheaton football players, who are at work in some of the most difficult places in the world, showed me that the rich and abundant life is the one lived through radical dependence on our Savior. Looking back on those week-long trips are some of my favorite memories as a Wheaton Football player and I can point to those trips as the inspiration for me entering into full-time ministry with Young Life.
Thankfully, WFMP has remained a part of my life since graduating three years ago. At first it was through donating to the program, but it turned into more when Coach Peltz asked me to help lead a trip. For the past two years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to help lead groups of players on WFMP trips to Palo Alto, in the Dominican Republic. When considering the cost of this trip financially-but also emotionally, and physically-the decision is never difficult. To have the chance to play a role in what helped shape me into the man I am today is an honor. I can say without a doubt that if I had not had the chance to see God working throughout the world on multiple WFMP trips I would not be in full time ministry today. It was through those experiences that God spoke into my heart and inspired me to go all in for Him in my vocation.
My hope is that the same thing happens for the current players. I hope and pray that God grabs their hearts the way he did mine on these trips. So much good happens when we get out of ourcomfort zone, and I cannot think of a better way to do that than through a WFMP Trip.
Peter Jarrett '13 graduated from Wheaton with a degree in biblical and theological studies. He participated as a running back for Wheaton Football from 2009-13, has traveled on several Wheaton Football Ministry Partnership trips, and currently works with Young Life full-time. Approximately 75 players plan to travel with Wheaton Football Ministry Partnership over spring break 2017, to Port Elizabeth, South Africa with Rod ’87 and Kathy Smith Duttweiler ’87; Loskop, South Africa with JD ’64 and Barb Timyan Borgman ’64; Havana, Cuba with Keith Cote ’84; Santiago, Dominican Republic with Kyle Bradley ’09, Seth ’88 and Anne Letsinger Cohen ’88; and Sevierville, Tennessee with Ryan McCaffrey ’02 at Wears Valley Ranch.
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Photo captions (top to bottom): Jarrett and teammates giving children a ride on their shoulders in Dene, Senegal, after digging a trench to lay a foundation for a wall that will someday be a classroom; Jarrett and teammates hauling concrete which would be used to make a large water cistern to provide water to a retreat center in Palo Alto, Dominican Republic; a Wheaton football player mending a barbed wire fence the team built for a mother and her six children in Loskop, South Africa.