By Jeremiah Hawn |
October 09, 2003
This year's Spiritual Emphasis Week was filled with huge challenges … from a huge speaker. Former NBA basketball player Bay Forrest, standing at a full 6'10", delivered a powerful series entitled, "What are you chasing after," inspiring students to pursue a more meaningful relationship with God and act on their faith rather than just have one. He spoke a total of eight times, and spent a great deal of time getting to know many students on campus. He even had time slots available to sit down and spend one on one time with students who were struggling with certain issues.
Forrest, a native of Colorado, has always been big for his age, according to his testimony he shared Monday morning. He was highly recruited by almost every NCAA Division I basketball program in the United States because of a stellar high school season. Even Sports Illustrated gave him a write up as being one of the top players in the country. Yet, as he was choosing a school, he felt God calling him to tiny Grand Canyon State. He stated how many sports writers and college coaches told him he would never play in the NBA because of the size of the school. Yet, after winning the NAIA national championship his junior year and having the Sacramento Kings interested in drafting him, he went back to Grand Canyon State to finish his senior year.
He was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Supersonics after graduation, yet he was offered a chance to play for Athletes in Action, a Christian organization that traveled the United States playing against the top collegiate teams in the nation. They would play against the teams, and then share their faith with the players (a feat not permissible in present-day schools.) Towards the end of the year, he suffered what could have been a career-ending injury when a 7'5" 320 lb. Russian giant slammed an elbow straight into his chest, causing him to stumble and lose consciousness on the court. But Forrest adamantly stated that through this tough time, God was always with him. He ended up getting drafted by the Pheonix Suns for more money than any of his other offers. He only played for two seasons before injuries in his lower back forced him to either retire or spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Forrest opted for retirement.
What was next for Forrest? Full-time ministry. He spent seven years following his retirement as a youth pastor and retreat speaker, then taking his family to Kenya, East Africa, to serve with Africa Inland Mission for five years. Forrest began his speaking ministry with Kingdom Building Ministries in the mid 1990s. Today he speaks across the United States at various functions to Christians and non-Christians alike. Forrest and his wife Peggy (his high school sweetheart,) have four children. They currently reside in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
His main passions that he shares with youth are: to challenge young and old alike to live close, intimate relationships with Jesus Christ, to walk out the Christian faith in a pursuit of holiness and godliness, and to split up guys and girls to deal with issues that are relevant to them in this day, particularly dating issues. His final message on Thursday night was all about "bad eggs." He stated the importance of accountability partners helping each other to stay pure, and how not to "hunt buffalo with a BB gun." Instead of seeing Christianity as a big picture, he encouraged students to take it day by day, taking time out to do devotions and pray every morning.
He also shared how God told him to head to Africa for missionary work.
"My wife and I used to laugh and joke and say, ‘God loves us too much: He'll never send us to Kenya or Africa.' That was before we felt any calling there. One night when a missionary was speaking at our church, I just really sensed God calling us to Africa and to Kenya. On the way home, I remember saying, ‘Peg, I know this is going to blow you away, but I think God's calling us to Africa as missionaries.' She started to cry. She said, ‘The Lord spoke to me over a year ago and told me we were going. I said, "I'll go, but only after You speak to my husband and lay that on his heart."'"
During Friday's chapel, junior Lance Knapp shared how his life was changed by what Forrest said. He stated his goals and how he wanted help with accountability. The chapel was devoted to finding mentors for those who were seeking any type of accountability for spiritual growth.