Football team finds hope in Billy Graham outreach

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DALLAS (BP)—Having won only one game in three years, the Thomas Jefferson Patriots high school football team in Dallas needed hope. Team chaplain Luis Lama used My Hope America with Billy Graham to fill the void.

Lama, associate minister of Prestonwood Baptist Church En Español, used My Hope’s video resources to culminate a 10-week study of the Gospel of John.

luis lama students400Luis Lama, an associate minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church en Español, imparts his hope to the Dallas-area Thomas Jefferson Patriots high school football team, which has won only one game in the past three years. (Photo courtesy of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)“They were captivated,” Lama said. “They were focused. At the end of the video, I got up and gave a testimony. And I prayed and gave an invitation. And I believe that was the best possible way that we could end the chapel series with these students, because 15 students (and one coach) came to Christ.”

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association produced a video of Lama’s outreach, available at

Since then, Lama has been discipling students with follow-up resources from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Lama and Jefferson Patriot coaches are planning a community service project soon, and they plan for the team to attend the church service where the new believers will be baptized.

students watch video400Students watched the My Hope video, and 15 responded by making professions of faith in Christ.Students in the Prestonwood student ministry Lama leads have supported the outreach to the football team through prayers and attending the games.

“I feel that the students have had a front-row seat to the workings of the Spirit of God,” Lama said. “It is possible to meet new people, invest in them, share God’s message and invite them to respond.”

Born in Lima, Peru, Lama’s early life did not indicate he would have such a fruitful ministry. Until Lama was 10, his family attended Pentecostal house churches but adopted Mormonism after encountering a pair of Mormon missionaries.

“I was a faithful follower along with my family, until my senior year of high school. Being a part of religion didn’t compare to the other things the world had to offer,” Lama recounted. “The pursuit of being entertained became my quest—money, fashion, pleasure, the night life. ‘Give me fun; just don’t talk about Jesus and ruin the mood’ was the way I looked at things.”

At age 26, Lama had a major arrhythmia attack. A test registered 280 heartbeats per minute. He was unable to open his eyes, control his breathing or communicate coherently. Doctors injected him with a tranquilizer. The moment they did, he flat-lined, but then his heart immediately started back up at 86 beats per minute.

“Never had death become a probability until it was a reality,” Lama said. “I spent the following weeks seeking the help of cardiologists to help me with my physical heart, but also in prayer to help my spiritual heart. I started attending Prestonwood a few months later.”

That led to Lama’s salvation.

assistant coach400Carlos Turner, assistant football coach at Thomas Jefferson High School, appears in the video.“The moment of decision came at a men’s conference,” he said. “My knee caps were shaking as I stood up and received Christ by faith as Lord and Savior. The only thing I remember about the message was that it made me take an honest assessment of myself. … I was a sinner in need of forgiveness. The cross finally made sense to me. It was an overwhelming rush of love that covered me.”

Lama pursued God through discipleship classes, service opportunities and missions. While on a five-month stay in Argentina, Lama sensed a call to ministry and, upon returning to Texas, Prestonwood offered him a student ministry internship. He began studies Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and graduated with a master’s degree in missiology in December 2011.

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