Barrett Jones shares the Gospel in Nicaragua3/20/2012
By Laura Fielding
JINOTEGA, Nicaragua—Barrett Jones stands out in a crowd.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound football player for the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide would stand out anywhere.
But his love for God and his commitment to sharing the Gospel also make him stand out from most of his peers.
“I don’t want to be known as a football player who happens to be a Christian, I want to be known as a Christian who happens to play football,” he said.
Jones, a long-time member of Bellevue Baptist Church of Cordova, Tenn., near Memphis, organized and led a team of 31 of his friends and family members on a mission trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua, during his spring break, March 11-16.
The team participated in three nightly revival services at Shalom Baptist Church in Jinotega and visited three public schools and an orphanage. At each location, they gave their personal testimonies, presented the Gospel story and interacted with the children by playing sports and games and simply loving on them.
Jones made his priorities clear in a sermon when he shared his personal testimony at the revival service at Shalom Baptist, March 13.
“Tonight, I want to talk to you a little bit about what I’m really passionate about,” he told the crowd, “and that’s not football — it’s Jesus Christ.”
This is the third mission trip Jones has organized and led — the past two spring breaks he has taken mission teams to Haiti where they constructed bathrooms for refugees, painted a school building and built a basketball court.
“I love this trip [to Nicaragua] because it’s all about presenting the Gospel — that’s the main purpose of it,” Jones said. “It’s not to build a school — those (were) great trips, too.
“But this is the most important kind of trip,” Jones said, “… to present the Gospel. This trip could have an eternal effect, hopefully, on some people’s lives.”
Jones has garnered an impressive list of academic, athletic and community-service honors and awards. Some notable achievements include graduating as an accounting major in three years with a 4.0 GPA and being in the University Honors Program. He will play his fourth season at the University of Alabama as a graduate student in accounting.
He is involved in Campus Crusade for Christ and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In 2011, his football prowess was recognized with the Outland Trophy as the most outstanding interior lineman among the 25-man All-America team, the Wuerffel Trophy for exemplary community service as well as athletic and academic achievement, NCAA Unanimous All-American and 2011 SEC Scholarship Athlete of the Year.
Jones is not your average 21-year-old. Between classes, study, football practice and games, spring break is the only free time he has during the year.
“[People always] say, ‘Man, that’s awesome that you’re giving up your spring break to go on mission trips,’” said Jones, “and I say to them, ‘I’m not giving up anything,’
“This is the most fun I could ever have … to go on a trip like this and experience this with like-minded Christians and spread the Gospel … that’s what I love to do, and I’m not just saying that.
“I’ve been to the beach a million times and I don’t really remember one specific beach trip,” Jones said. “But I remember every second and every day of every mission trip I’ve ever been on.”
For additional photos please see this Flickr gallery:
Laura Fielding is a writer for IMB.