“God has me at KU for a specific purpose.”
“I want to be known for loving and serving Jesus.”
This past Tuesday night was the opening of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball season. The Jayhawks played Pittsburgh State in an exhibition game before the points and blocks count. This night wasn’t just a typical exhibition.Three of KU’s starters, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson did not play in the game. Even Coach Self was a
little worried before the tip went off. One of the players who played 15 minutes and ended up with 4 points and 5 rebounds was Jordan Juenemann. I had the privilege of talking to Jordan after the game on Wednesday. We talked about what was really important in Jordan’s life, his spiritual walk with Christ.
Jordan was born and raised in Hays, KS and graduated from Hays in 2008. His dream came true in the fall of 2008 when he made a leap of faith and came to KU where he became a walk on guard for the basketball team. Jordan grew up a Jayhawk fan. His parents were both Jayhawk fans, his sister graduated from KU in the spring of 2008, he attended games at the Phog, and was a camper at several of Bill Self’s summer basketball camps. Jordan is now a senior and is majoring in Exercise Science with a minor in Business. The interesting part is that in first exhibition game, Jordan played more minutes than any other game he has played in since becoming a walk on. Jordan has another chance to play more and score more tonight when he plays his hometown college, Ft. Hays State and guards his best friend Jason Ball.
Jordan told me he is blessed with amazing parents and an amazing family. Both of his parents grew up Catholic. In 1992, his dad accepted the Lordship of Jesus and came to Christ. His faith was instilled in him by his dad who would pray with his family every night. His dad took the family to church and his love reflected the love of God. Jordan realized how important Jesus was at a young age. He spent time in the Word and around 3rd or 4th grade, he finally understood that Jesus died on the cross for him. In 5th grade, Jordan was baptized.
“My walk with Christ is a continual transformation.”
His family is the biggest spiritual influences in his life now and while he was growing up. At KU, Wayne Simien is a big spiritual influence in his life. Wayne is a great example for all the athletics at KU. Wayne has and is helping Jordan grow in his walk with Christ and helps him to be be disciplined in his walk. Jordan told me that Wayne is a great man of God and a
great example to follow. When he goes back to his hometown of Hays, he has several people there who encourage him spiritually. Jordan spoke highly of Jeff Willms who is a coach and is Jordan’s mentor that Jordan keeps in contact with
This past summer, Jordan and Jeff Withey were part of the Athletes in Action basketball travel team, a global Sports Ministry working with college and professional athletes to use the platform of sports to help people with questions of faith. They traveled to Macedonia and Kosova where they spent time in bible studies, praying, sharing their testimonies and playing basketball. Jordan loved his experience playing basketball with a foundational spiritual setting. He unplugged from the world by having no cell phone and no computer and plugged into God word’s on a daily basis. Jordan grew closer to God during this opportunity and was re-baptized. He really appreciates all the hard work that Mike Sigfrids has put into this global ministry. He was challenged to go back to KU and give weekly devotionals and share his faith by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Jordan plans to and hopes that he will get the opportunity to help out with this great global sports ministry sometime in the future.
The title of being a member of the Men’s Jayhawk basketball team is great but Jordan wants to be known for being a servant of Christ and loving Jesus. Being a collegiate basketball player and being a Christian is not always easy especially when you come from different cultures. Jordan’s freshmen year was a culture experience for a small town Kansas boy relating to those from Chicago and Philadelphia. God gave him the strength to stand up for his morals and his faith. His teammates knew he was different and respected his walk with Christ and accepted him for who he was in the locker room and in the dorms. Jordan didn’t ever want to act like he was better than everyone else, but instead wanted to keep his focus on basketball and his faith.
His teammates and coaches know that he is a Christian by the way he walks and talks and how he carries himself in the locker room, in the dorms and on the court. His faith is personal to him and Jordan wants to grow in his relationship with Christ every day. He spends time with other students on campus and even a few on the team who have the same focus of wanting to serve God and live for Him. He doesn’t go looking for temptations but strives to stand for God and honor God with his life. His teammates know where he stands and will act differently towards him. His strong morals were instilled in him by his dad and his family. He is in constant prayer and wants to live in full obedience to God and his word. Daily he lives for Christ. Even before we talked, his mother called him and prayed with him for a while. Playing basketball for 5 to 6 hours a day plus going to class and studying, Jordan still makes time for prayer, and bible study. Jordan also spends a lot of time reading books and recently books on the power of prayer.
One thing that really inspired me about Jordan is that when he plays a game, he is only playing for one person who takes up the whole gym, and cheers the loudest-God. Not only does Jordan spend time in prayer but the team does as well. He told me that Coach Self’s coaching philosophy has Christian values. They say the Lord’s Prayer before games, they pray before meals, and even pray before practices. Jordan isn’t the only Jayhawk who strives to live for Christ every day. According to Jordan, Jeff Withey loves Jesus and Christian Garrett is on fire for Jesus plus Tyrel Reed lives for Christ. The two passages that have helped Jordan in his walk are Philippians 3:14 and Colossians 3:23-24.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:14 ESV) This passage encourages him on the basketball court to keep pressing on after each play and forget about the last play or mistake.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV) This passage is written on his shoes and is a reminder of the inheritance that is in store for those who work for God.
Jordan serves Christ with his whole heart and so many have told me that he is a great young man. Even while watching the exhibition game the other night, the announcer talked highly about his presence on the court and his heart.
Jordan believes that the Jayhawks this season will reach their goals and will have a great year. He believes they need to workhard together as a team, do what the coaches want, come together as a team despite the adversity and give it their all. I believe if they follow this pathway, there is another Big 12 Conference title waiting for them. Jordan also gave my 10 year old son, who aspires to play for the Jayhawks one day, some advice. He told me to tell my son that you been given a gift from God and everydaywork hard to get better. Have a love for the game of basketball; and believe it with everything you got that one day you will make it to the next level. Jordan also told me to tell my son to look to God and seek his will for his life.
At the end of our conversation, Jordan was very thankful that we came to him about his spiritual walk but more importantly he was appreciative that this article will get Jesus name out there. Jordan wants to be known for his faith and his trust in God. He is thankful that every day is a gift from God and wants to honor God with his entire life.
I appreciate Jordan for sharing his inspiring story with me so that I can share it with the world!