by Timothy Cockes, guest writer, student at Liberty University
Liberty University recruited 6-foot 5-inch, 315-pound Ethan Callison in 2012. Although the plan was for him to be a lineman for the football team, Ethan felt a call to student ministry and would have attended Liberty regardless of his football status. He began on the team as a non-scholarship player and ended up making the roster.
After completing his freshman year, Callison says he felt a different call on his life. He told his family that his next year playing football would most likely be the last. At the time, he was serving as the student pastor at his home church, ClearView Church in Waynesboro, VA.
“My pastor, John Hamric, really took me under his wing while I was in high school,” Callison says. “He showed me a lot of things about ministry, and I really developed a passion for lost souls. He even allowed me to serve as an SBCV intern in our youth ministry for a couple of summers. I am grateful to the Vision Virginia Missions Offering for making that possible.”
During his time serving at ClearView, Callison felt like he was cheating his church by playing football. “I was selfishly pursuing playing football,” says Callison. He thought to himself, “I know I’m called to ministry, so why am I dabbling in other things that are taking me away from my calling?”
In a meeting before his junior year, Callison’s position coach told him he was penciled in as the starting center for the next season. It was in that meeting that this young football player told his coach he wouldn’t be playing football that year. “His jaw just dropped,” Callison recalls. “He was just dumbfounded.” Nevertheless, the coaches at Liberty University wished him well in his ministry pursuits.
In April 2015, Callison began an internship at Fellowship Community Church in Salem, VA. Since that time, he has grown in his ministry responsibilities, and opportunities have abounded. After he finished his degree at Liberty, Callison began serving full time as the student director at Fellowship’s North Campus. In the fall of 2016, he was named as campus pastor.
Callison gives God all of the glory for working out the smallest details in his life. “Our God is not a God of coincidences. Our God is an intentional God.”
Callison encourages athletes to look to Christ and find purpose in Him, not athletics. “If your identity is found in sports and not in Christ, then sports is your god and sports is your idol.”
Ethan Callison looks forward to the work that God will continue to do in his life and his ministry. “No matter what position, no matter what job I hold, my calling is to be a servant of Christ.”
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