Mike Cekinovich's Story of Sharing the Gospel Within the Sports World
There are many outlets to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Some of them are in the most unlikely of ways. Sports play a big role in today's culture and sometimes can be seen as an idol. Cottonwood Creek's Mike Cekinovich grew up playing sports and has found a way to instill the gospel while he plays, as well as teach others how to play with the mindset of Christ.
Mike grew up in western Pennsylvania, but after the divorce of his parents at age 12, he moved down to Texas. After moving to Texas, Mike was blessed to meet a family who attended church and invited him to go with them. Soon after, at the age of 13, Mike accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Mike has played sports for as long as he can remember. He played football, basketball, softball, and baseball for Richardson High School, as well as rec leagues, city leagues, and sports organizations.
Mike first started getting involved with incorporating the gospel through sports when he started playing softball. "We would pray after each game and try to share a good word," Mike said. "It was always something encouraging." Mike then began getting involved in a sports reach ministry in prisons. Mike and his team would play softball with the inmates, and then after the game, share the gospel with them. "In a prison, you plant the seed and it's a one-time presentation," Mike said. "Some aren't getting out. So, we do our very best to let them know about the saving grace of Jesus."
Mike usually waits until after the game to start sharing the gospel. "It's after the game where we get the opportunity to pray with the players," Mike said. "Whether you're using sports as a mission field or not, try to be Christlike while playing. Don't take it personally when you lose and be a light in a field that is most of the time so competitive." Mike also teaches players to encourage one another with uplifting words. "Lift up your fellow teammates with 'Nice hit!' or 'Good catch!' as opposed to 'Win, win, win.'"
Mike believes that any sport can be used to incorporate the gospel. However, one of his favorite sports to use is football. Mike plays football with a group of younger men on Sunday afternoons. "At half time, I give them a pep talk," Mike said. "During that time, I'll utilize something from my job as a firefighter towards who Christ is, what an admirable relationship looks like with Him, and the importance of prayer." Mike will then draw comparisons of the game of football to a relationship with the Lord. "If you're playing football and you execute the plays, good things will happen," Mike said. "If you read the Bible and execute what we're taught, God blesses our lives."
Through his sharing of the gospel, Mike uses different passages of the Bible to encourage others. If people want to talk about religion, he directs them to John 14:6:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If Mike shares with others about heaven, he turns to 1 John 5:11-12:
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
For people who want to confess sin, Mike encourages them with 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Ultimately, Mike wants everyone that he shares with to always remember what Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Whether it's sharing the gospel during a football game half time, or after a softball game, Mike's ultimate goal is to use the sports venue as a gospel presentation to others. "You will run into someone and see where their life is ten years later," Mike said. "It's amazing to see those who have followed Christ and made Him a priority. If we're trusting the Lord and following Him, He's going to direct our paths."