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The Ambassadors

By Scott Tibbs, January 30, 2006

Yesterday at church, one of the parents discussed his experience coaching the basketball team made up of home-schooled children. Through the story, the point was emphasized that the main goal of the team is not to win games, but to build character.

This brings back fond memories of the lessons I learned playing on and later watching the basketball team at Grace Baptist Academy in Angola, Indiana. (I was on the team my freshman and sophomore years, but did not join the team my junior and senior years.) The basketball team's nickname was "The Ambassadors", and the school took that seriously. The team's fight song echoes why they are on the court.

At Grace Baptist Academy
Ambassadors for Christ are we
We serve the One who set us free.
We're His eternally.
We'll tell the world of Calvary,
Where Jesus paid sin's penalty
At Grace Baptist Academy,
Ambassadors for Christ are we!
One thing that impressed me then (and still does now) is that setting a good example, not winning, was the main purpose for the Ambassadors. At the beginning of each season, the coach would set several ground rules. One of those was "What those zebras say, goes." No matter how bad a call may be, if a player complains, he goes to the bench. That applied to the team's MVP and to the twelfth man. The point was to instill respect for authority and teach the player humility.

There were other ways GBA looked to present a good testimony. The cheerleading squad was very modestly dressed, and the highlight of the halftime routine was an evangelistic cheer where the girls stood in the formation of a cross.

Outside of the basketball events, little things mattered. We were not to draw attention to ourselves. Some students who had neon shoestrings were told to replace them with regular shoestrings. While this may seem silly at first glance, it presents a valuable lesson about the sin of pride. In a culture where people are encouraged to scream "look at me", this was something we all needed to hear.

Another statement made at the beginning of every year was a small, simple, but valuable lesson. If a teacher asks a student to pick up something off the floor and put it into the trash, he or she is to just do it and do not complain. An immediate reaction hard wired into our human nature is to protest that "I didn't drop the piece of paper", to justify ourselves. The problem this demonstrates is not a desire to keep the school clean but to make sure we (like the Pharisees) are to appear blameless. Can you see how that self-centered (rather than Christ-centered) attitude can be sinful?

High School was not always an enjoyable experience, but I am thankful for the opportunity to attend a Christian school and for the sacrifices my mother made to get me there. The Bible classes gave me an understanding of Scripture I would not have had at the government schools, and I value the practical lessons I learned from things that might have seemed silly at the time.