Creating Spiritual Leaders

Saturday, April 21, 2007
The Scott family. Jana and Darrin have been married for 12 years.

In 1990 Bill McCartney, a football coach for the University of Colorado, and David Wardell, Ph.D., came up with the concept of combining sports and worship to make a godly man. That was the beginning of what is now known nationwide as Promise Keepers.

Former St. Louis Rams football great Kurt Warner will be in Cape Girardeau April 28 at the Show Me Center to share his faith with the thousands of men expected to attend.

Promise Keepers looks at what makes a man. It is a ministry designed to bring men closer to Jesus Christ, their families, their church and community -- and other men.

Local men have been involved with both Promise Keepers and Men's Fraternity, a weekly Bible study group. The women who love these men share how Promise Keepers has made a difference in the lives of their husbands and families.

Lisa and Charles Brown of Jackson have been married 19 years and have known each other all their lives. They have three children, ages 14, 8 and 2, one of whom is a special-needs child.

The Clark family. Shelley and Chad have been married 12 years.

"We have been through a lot of difficult times with our daughter," Lisa said. "Our daughter Natalie has a disease called tuberous sclerosis. Charles has grown through Promise Keepers and through the support we get from the church family. I feel like he really gets a blessing and it has made our family stronger -- because he is the head of the family. Just seeing him grow to love these men he met as strangers -- and all come from different backgrounds, different churches, just a lot of different gentlemen coming together -- I think is really a neat thing. When our daughter was diagnosed with her illness at 1 year old, he was devastated. Promise Keepers really helped him deal with a lot of things [and] made him stronger. It's been good support for him."

Connie and Rick Griswold have been married 34 years and have two grown daughters and four grandchildren. Rick is one of the original members of the local Promise Keepers group that started when he and Kurt Reece began a prayer group at Lenco, then moved it to Reece's home before the group grew larger. He's a member of New McKendree Church in Jackson and Connie is Roman Catholic, but both believe they share a common faith and love of God. Connie explains what Promise Keepers has done for her husband:

"Rick's faith is very strong. Ever since we have been married there has been faith in our home and in our marriage, but never as strong as since he became involved with Promise Keepers. It's definitely made a stronger marriage for us. The men have such support for each other. It's beyond anything I would have dreamed for him and for the men. It's wonderful to see the interaction of the friendships and faith men have for one another. Rick was a person who kept everything bottled up inside. I would work to get something out of him. Once he started Bible study and got involved it really opened him up. He truly does give the glory to God. He worked through him and it changed him. He's always been a good husband, but he's even a stronger and more sensitive husband."

Shelley Clark of Jackson said her husband of 12 years, Chad, began going to Promise Keepers and Bible study a year and a half ago because his friends are involved and urged him to join in.

"He loves it," she said. "He stands up more for God and is more comfortable about his faith. He's not real quiet about it any more, even at home. He's grown closer to our three girls. A lot of men say daughters, that's a mother's job. He has learned that other men are going through similar things and it makes him closer with our daughters."

The Brown family. Lisa and John Brown have been married 19 years.

"Only positive things can come from this type of rally," said Jana Scott, married for 12 years to Darrin. "In today's society so many different things pull men in different directions. It helps focus men's responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the family. There's more of a need for a spiritual network, more support to show them they have an outlet, a network of people who understand what they're going through. They get together, talk about the stress and prayer focuses their faith to God, where the main focus of the family should be."

Sabrina Rightnowar, married 15 years to Mark, says she has "seen a great change in my husband. The best change is probably that he worries less since going to Bible study and talking with other men about being a husband."

All of the wives say they hope other men will learn from their husbands' examples and go to this year's event at the Show Me Center. And there's the additional draw of Kurt Warner, who has always been known for sharing his faith off field. Except maybe for Connie Griswold's husband. He's a Chicago Bears fan.

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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