Over 500 attend #8216;Back to School Blast#039;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Over 500 students and parents filled the seats and lined the walls all the way out the front doors of South Luverne Baptist Church Sunday evening for its third annual Back to School Blast.

The event was organized to gather students, teachers, athletes, coaching staffs and administrative staffs and parents from all of the schools in the county for a time of fellowship and prayer for the upcoming school year.

SLBC Pastor Mike Green welcomed everyone to the event and introduced the group &#8220Silence” from Union Baptist Church and The Riverside Worship Project, a Christian band from Auburn.

The bands got the crowd to their feet and clapping their hands as they sang, including an audience participation to &#8220The Hokie Pokie.”

The guest speaker for the evening was Brian Cunningham, a former University of Alabama football player from 1995 to 1998. Cunningham gave his testimony to the students and urged them to always remember that &#8220With God, all things are possible.”

&#8220So many times we want to say, ‘Where are You, God?' during the tough times, but we have to remember to wait on the Lord.”

Cunningham explained how he had wanted to be a football player all of his life, but a 1993 football accident left him with a split kidney after he tripped and fell on a blocking sled.

&#8220I was told that I could forget about playing sports ever again,” he said. &#8220Everything I had lived and worked for had come to an end.”

While in the hospital, he received a call from then-Coach Gene Stallings who promised Cunningham a visit after graduation.

Cunningham said his walk-on try-outs were only met with being told to come back the following spring or fall. Finally, his father faxed a letter to Coach Stallings reminding him of the phone call he made to Brian while he was in the hospital. Stallings soon returned a call to Cunningham and promised him a shot on the team.

In the spring of 1995, he made the team; however, Cunningham's obstacles were far from over.

&#8220If we think we're too big, God will humble us,” he said.

In the fall of 1995, Cunningham said there were too many other players who were better than he was, so he was put off the team.

&#8220My prayer life stopped; I quit going to church; I felt like I was a failure and a nobody,” Cunningham said. &#8220God had brought me through the kidney accident, I had made the team - I just couldn't figure out why God would allow this to happen.”

Then, in Oct. of 1995, a man named Gary Shores told Cunningham that if he wanted to be successful, he needed to first, ask God's forgiveness for blaming Him for everything.

&#8220He told me that this wasn't God's fault and I needed to trust Him.”

Shores also told Cunningham to continue to work hard in football and to, most importantly, have faith.

&#8220In the spring of 1996, I tried out again - I soon went from fifth string to first string,” he said.

In the fall of '96, Cunningham's dreams finally came true as he kicked his first field goal for the University of Alabama.

&#8220I had to learn that it's not about me - it's about God and what He can do,” he said.

&#8220Hard times are always going to be there, but we need to remember that nothing is impossible with God – and be sure to give Him the glory, otherwise it's all for nothingŠJust imagine what God can do for you and through you.”

The Rev. Tate Ray asked a blessing for all of the county's schools, and Pastor Mike Green dismissed the crowd to enjoy hamburgers, hot dogs and soft drinks in the fellowship hall and outside at the end of the service.