River Parishes FCA holds first Night of Champions

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 17, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 17, 1999

RESERVE – It was a night filled with prayers, songs and testimonies as the River Parishes Adult Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes held its first annual Night of Champions Monday night in the East St. John HighSchool gymnasium.

Representatives and students from Destrehan, Hahnville, East St. John,Lutcher, Reserve Christian, Riverside and St. Charles Catholic high schoolsattended the banquet. Gary Zeringue, a teacher at Destrehan High Schooland one of the organizers of the event, said the goal was to promote Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the River Parishes and to jump start the existing programs.

After a jambalaya dinner, Lutcher basketball player Nekedra Wilson said the opening prayer. Destrehan students Christina Oliver and Eric Schmaltzthen led the group in FCA camp songs. The Destrehan FCA huddle followedwith a skit on what it takes to be a Christian.

Lacey Stockton, a cheerleader at Destrehan, gave a testimony about what FCA has meant to her life. Stockton, a officer in the chapter at Destrehanhas been to FCA camp four times.

“It’s a chance to become closer to God,” Stockton told the assembly. “It’smeant so much to my life. It shows you are a Christian. Going to a meeting,you get to be at peace with yourself and with God. It’s a good way to relax.It keeps you focused on where God should be in your life and I encourage you to be involved in it.”The guest speaker was Burnell Dent, pastor of New Foundation for Life Church in LaPlace. Dent, a star at Destrehan High School, is the career-leading tackler at Tulane who went on to play eight years in the NFL with Green Bay, Detroit and the New York Giants.

Dent read from Luke 15, verse 17 about the Prodigal Son and true repentance. He discussed his own career and how with two games left inhis college career and on the verge of being a first-round draft pick, he tore up his knee against Southern Miss.

“I was down and depressed,” Dent said. “Do you know what it’s like tohave taken away from you what you want to do? I couldn’t handle that. Butmy mom prayed for me and told me not to get down. I got on my knees andprayed for God to forgive me. God forgave me and I got motivation fromhim. I believed my strength came from prayers.”Dent said he worked hard to get back and eventually was drafted in the sixth round by Green Bay. He caught the eye of Packer coach Forrest Greggand made the team. But he said, he forgot that God was the one who madethe way for him and started following others. He tried marijuana andended up in a hospital where again he turned to God for help.

“I went straight to church and redirected my life to God,” Dent said. “Iplayed eight years in the NFL because I repented. I said I was sorry andthat is all God is looking for.”East St. John offensive lineman Ernest Ricks then said the closing prayer. Zeringue said the night was based on similar programs held at LSU and Southeastern and that plans are to make it an annual event.

“The River Parishes are a great place in supporting whatever you do for a good cause,” Zeringue said. “It went off better than expected.”

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