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Former Vol shares message of choosing the right path

Former Vol shares message of choosing the right path

The Messenger 06.14.13

By KEVIN WEAKS
Messenger Sports
Chris Walker was at a crossroads in his life. When given a direction to take, his first reaction was to turn away.
He soon reconsidered, however, and now Walker is helping others find their path in life.
Walker is a former University of Tennessee football player and now the Fellowship of Christian Athletes campus director at UT-Chattanooga.
Thursday, he was at Pinecrest Golf Club in Dyer as part of the Northwest Tennessee FCA chapter’s fourth annual Little General Golf Classic.
Prior to the golf outing, Walker was one of several people to share their testimony with those in attendance who donated money to participate in the tournament or help sponsor the event. There was also an auction of several items, including St. Louis Cardinals, Tennessee Volunteers and Duck Dynasty memorabilia.
In addition to money raised from the golf outing and auction, Cox Oil owner Mike Cox surprised Northwest Tennessee FCA director Barry Duncan and the gathering with a $35,000 donation.
It was the generosity of people like Cox that made Walker realize he made the right choice two years ago — a choice that almost wasn’t.
“After football was done, I didn’t know what was going on or what to do,” Walker said. “I got a call to be the FCA chaplain at Chattanooga, and I said no. My first reaction to them was to tell them no. I knew the Lord had put a calling on my heart for ministry, but I just didn’t know when. They told me to think about it and pray about it, so I talked with my family. I thought and prayed about it, and the more I thought about it, the more the Lord confirmed that this is what He created me for.”
Walker joined the UTC campus in December of 2011. He brings the FCA message to the school’s athletes and travels with the football team.
His background and young age allow him to relate to many players.
Walker’s parents divorced when he was 5 years old, and church was a place he went on Easter.
His mother was a basketball coach, so he was guided toward athletics at a young age.
Basketball was his game, while football was the sport he took up when he was cut from the baseball team. It turned out to be a good hobby.
At Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, he developed into a prep All-American and one of the most sought-after players in the South.
He chose Tennessee, and his life changed on Feb. 8, 2008, when he gave his life to Christ after being ministered to by James Mitchell.
“That’s where my life changed, my freshman year of college,” Walker said. “I’m very grateful to the ministry, and I’m excited to be here because I’m a product of that ministry.
“It’s been awesome to give back to a ministry that has done so much for me. It’s fun to be around college athletes and help them. College athletes are different. They don’t trust very many people, and they don’t think very many people understand them. So, it’s been easy for me to come in and say I’ve been there and done that and understand what they’re going through. They know that I haven’t been out of Tennessee very long, so I still understand them. I think that’s helped me minister to them in a more effective way.”
Walker has paid it forward, so to speak, and he hopes the athletes he is currently ministering to will do the same someday.
It’s a message that resonates with Duncan. The former teacher, coach and principal has observed in his 37 years of working with young people that you can’t change the child if you can’t change his heart and that FCA athletes are likely the last hope of keeping God in schools.
The Northwest FCA chapter is certainly doing its part.
Duncan noted that in four years, the FCA has gone from 20 certified schools and 10 team chapels to 50 schools and over 50 athletic team chapels.
The local chapter, which serves nine counties, will minister to 3,500 students in any given month and has sent 132 youth to leadership camps, with another 15 to 20 expected to attend this year.
All money raised from Thursday’s outing will go to the local FCA.

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