“I just want to exalt Jesus Christ as much as I can.”
I was blessed with the opportunity to visit with Ray Holden, JR about his passion in life. Ray plays basketball for the Bob Jones University Bruins. This past season was the inaugural season for the Bruins basketball program but this also was the first athletic season for the University. The Bruins play in the USA South Athletic Conference and are a Division III athletic program. Bob Jones is a Liberal Arts College located in Greenville, SC and has an enrollment of about 4,000 students. Ray is one of them majoring in Youth Ministry and playing basketball. He wants to exalt Jesus in every dribble he makes on the court and every walk he takes off the court. His passion is sharing the love of Christ with everyone around him. Here is his interview with me:
Tell me a little about yourself-where u from? family?
My name is Raymond (Ray) Holden Jr., I’m 19 years old, a freshman Youth Ministries major at Bob Jones University. I am a proud athlete for the BJU Bruins basketball program. I’m from the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland and I have five other siblings, three older brothers, one older and one younger sister. My dad passed away six years ago and God has blessed me with a great mom who is loving, hard-working, and amazing in all that she does.
What made you go to Bob Jones University? talk about Bob Jones a little bit please.
It was truly the Lord’s plan for me to attend Bob Jones University. At the time I was running away from basketball and BJU didn’t have a team but they do have an outstanding ministry program and that’s the primary reason why I was attracted to the school. Bob Jones is a Liberal Arts College with an emphasis on building their students up to be great men and women for Jesus Christ. The school does a great job exposing its students to a number of things whether its drama, operas, sports, etc.
Talk a little about your coaches.
I couldn’t have been blessed with a better coaching staff. All the coaches have impacted me not only to be a better player but to be a better man as I grow in the Lord. I have been given books to read and inspirational posters or text messages a number of times that have encouraged me to do my best for God’s glory.
I saw that you are majoring in Youth Ministry? Is that your passion?
Youth Ministry is the biggest passion I have! Jesus Christ saved me at a young age and has changed my life dramatically as a teenager. I believe that teenagers and even those who are younger are the future and reaching them for Jesus Christ can have a huge impact on the World.
What is your passion in life? Would you like to go to the NBA one day?
My biggest passion in life is Youth Ministry but I would love to play in the NBA if I ever had the chance to. Reason why is because it’s such a huge platform to share Christ with others. Sometimes I dream of being the Tim Tebow of basketball.
Is there a difference going to Christian college than a non-Christian college?
I believe there is a difference between attending a Christian College and a non-Christian College. I have experienced both and I am more appreciative of attending a Christian College because I am constantly fed the Word of God whether it’s through class, chapel, small groups, basketball or personal devotions. Also, the environments are totally different in a number of ways and at a Christian College you really don’t have to worry about a lot of things. Well at Bob Jones you don’t lol.
What is its advantages and disadvantages?
Some advantages of a Christian College are spending time in God’s Word in chapel every day. Opening God’s Word with a body of believers is a blessing and having that freedom to worship is a privilege. Another advantage is that there are a lot of people who share the same faith as you. Also, the teachers and faculty do their best to help you grow in Christ as well. In addition, at a Christian College you really don’t have to worry about things like safety or things being stolen. Some disadvantages of a Christian College are becoming “stale” in your faith. Sometimes it is easy to hear God’s Word and tune out the preacher. Another disadvantage of going to a Christian College is meeting people who think they are holier than others.
Tell me about the Bruins? Was this season their first basketball season?
We just finished up our inaugural season and it was a great experience. Even though it was our first ever basketball season we did a good job being competitive with most of the teams we played and represented Christ well. We also progressed and learned how to deal with adversity as the season went on.
Your theme this year was Know God. What does that mean to you?
To me, knowing God is more than just having a head-knowledge of who God is. Knowing God is knowing Him through experience and having that personal relationship with Him that is solid and genuine. There’s a difference between knowing of someone and getting to know someone. When you get to know someone you spend time getting to know all about that person to help build your relationship.
Tell me about your Spiritual Journey in life: Share your story of how Christ has changed your life.
Growing up I was a rebellious kid with a really hard heart. I honestly didn’t care about life and I was quick to step on someone else to get the things that I wanted. To make a long story short by experiencing things the hard way and through a number of circumstances God got my attention and I trusted Him as my Savior at the age of nine. I struggled living the Christian life because I was living a double life. Around my friends I would do things to make it seem like I was tough but in church I would put on a whole new facade that people could see and know that I was a believer. I was challenged a number of times through sermons I’ve heard to be sold out for Jesus and not live a double life like James 1:8 tells us. So, I responded and told God I wanted to go into full-time Christian service. Ever since I’ve made that decision I have moments where I struggle but God is always shaping me and refining me through the refiner’s fire to convict me of sin so that I can confess it to Him and repent from it. It’s an ongoing process.
When did you start your journey with Christ?
March of 2004 is when I accepted Christ as my Savior and ever since then God has been faithful and has been molding me into the man who He wants me to be.
Who instilled your faith in you?
My Youth Pastor Aaron Finley
Was there someone one in your life who influenced you spiritually?
Three men come to mind: My Youth Pastor Aaron Finley, my high school coach Chris Gorham, and a teacher in my high school John Gorham. These three men have always been there to answer questions for me or just sit down and talk with me on how to live a spirit filled life. These three men have influenced and inspired me so much growing up and I thank them for that.
Has there been any dramatic events in your life that has shaken your faith or pulled you away from it? If so, how did not let your faith been shaken and how did you stay strong?
Although I didn’t have the best relationship with my father, I think when He passed I struggled the most because I know he died without Christ. I was always questioning God and asking Him why did He allow that to happen. Shortly after I lost my dad my best friend since 1st grade was hit by a car and killed. I didn’t understand but I would constantly remind myself that God’s ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9). I also viewed the death of my father as God calling me to the ministry because our lives in this world are only but a vapor and if I’m going to share Christ with someone I cannot hesitate and think that they will be here forever because they won’t. So it has encouraged me to step up and share the gospel when I’m given the opportunity to.
Is there someone now that helps you in your spiritual walk?
My coaches here at BJU, my high school coach and my youth pastor.
Where do you attend church at?
Grace Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?
Yes, Steve Pettit my sophomore year of high school, that summer had preached a message on double-mindedness and I realized I was double minded because I wanted to play basketball for the rest of my life but also be in the ministry.
Is it hard to be a Christian and play basketball?
It can get tough because as a believer in Christ you always have to be careful of how you react to different things on and off the court.
Any great stories of how you have witness to others about Jesus?
I was in Chicago doing a basketball missions trip with my high school team and we made bracelets just like the wordless book bracelets with the colors-black, red, white, green, and yellow-but instead of string we used a basketball net. Anyway, we were doing some sight-seeing in downtown Chicago and someone came up to me and asked what was the meaning of my bracelet. I shared the gospel with the teen and asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Savior he said no. So I asked if he was interested in accepting Christ as his Savior and he said yes. That day in the inner city of Chicago near the Giant bean I led a teen to Christ, gave him a bracelet, and encouraged him to tell his friends the gospel as well.
Has sports challenged your faith or faith challenged your sports?
My faith has challenged my sports by testing me on whether or not I was really playing sports for my glory or God’s glory.
What does it mean to be a role model?
To be a role model is to be a leader or an example setter. These people have to be willing to lead others in a positive way, and to impact the lives of those following their examples.
Is it hard as a Christian athlete w temptations that are all around you?
It is difficult because people tend to place you on a pedal stool and soon pride will creep in just before you stumble. I try to remind myself daily that the pleasure in Heaven is far more and far greater than the temporary pleasures we can receive instantly down here on Earth.
Faviorte scripture? Faviorte song?
Two Favorite songs because I can’t have one haha are His Robes for Mine by Chris Anderson and Struggle by Tenth Avenue North. My favorite passage in the Bible is Acts 20:19-24
What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?
Philippians 3:7-8 says, “But what things were gain to me those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung that I may WIN Christ.” The things in this world that I achieve and gain are nothing compared to what I can have in Jesus Christ.
What advice would you give my 11 yr old son who plays basketball but has to sit on the bench sometimes.
Remember if you quit now that will be the pattern of your life. Your time will come and once you are given that one shining moment make sure you play hard to please your Savior not man and God will bless you for that. 1 Cor 10:31
Any other comments you might like to say.
“What it all boils down to is that I’m a nobody who knows Somebody that everybody should know and that’s Jesus Christ!”
Ray tore his ACL and Meniscus recently. This is what he said about going through this ordeal in life. “At first I was a little down about it but I thought to myself maybe this is God trying to get my attention. When sheep wander away from the shepherd, excuse the analogy, but the Shepherd breaks the leg of the sheep so that the sheep would not wander away anymore and now has to depend on the Shepherd. God has something to teach me and I’m honored that He chose me to have this injury because He wants our relationship to grow.”
Ray is a great young man and I’m so thankful to have this opportunity to share his passion with you all. I decided to start writing more about Christ and sports. The best way to do that is to interview these athletes who are passionate more about Christ than they are about the sport they are playing. Look for more interviews to come. Thanks to Ray for blessing us with his story and sharing with us his passion.