Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
Biblical bonus round. TV’s other Bible-based hit, which airs on GSN (Thursdays, 9:00 PM ET*), will give an $10,000 to the charity of the team voted The American Bible Challenge Fan Favorite. The contest-within-a-contest runs through his weekend. Voting ends May 19th at midnight (PT). Fans can vote for their favorite team at gsntv.com. The limit is one vote per person, per day. (*Note: This post originally mistakenly reported the show as running at 8:00 PM. It actually airs Thursday’s at 9:00 PM. My apologies.)
As a reminder, here are the candidates:
TEAM ANOINTED INK
Hometown: Porter, Batson, and Katy, TX
Charity: Inner Cry Ministries, which helps rehabilitate former gang members by covering gang tattoos with uplifting substitutes
Team Members: Scott Hill (tattoo artist); Leigh Ballinger (evangelist); Chris Peacock (clothing line owner). Each team member ministers outside the “church box”—Scott via his Anointed Ink tattoo parlor, Chris via his “Redemption” clothing line and MMA involvement, and Leigh via his evangelization throughout the US, Canada and Australia.
TEAM CHRISTIAN WRESTLING FEDERATION
Hometown: Royse City, Rockwall, and Lubbock, TX
Charity: Christian Wrestling Federation, which promotes a wholesome version of professional wrestling
Team Members: Phillip Barron, Rob Vaughn, and Mike Watt (all pro wrestlers). Phil is the leader of this group of Christian wrestlers, all of whom have loved pro wrestling—but not its increasingly sexualized image—their whole lives. They believe strongly in the ministry of CWF, which is facing dire financial straits. They’re playing to save the Christian Wrestling Federation.
TEAM CITY TAKERS
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Charity: City Takers, exists to transform the urban and hip-hop culture with The Gospel of Jesus Christ through outreach and discipleship
Team Members: Ronnie Rolon (freight handler); Scott Free (director of outreach); and Tim Igidi (security). These Christian rappers spread the word of God to the hip-hop community through City Takers, the organization founded by Scott Free, formerly a mainstream hip-hop artist. Ronnie and Tim (who leads the TABC team) grew up in rough circumstances but found salvation through the Bible.
TEAM COWBOY CRUSADERS
Hometown: Springtown, Weatherford, and Grandbury, TX
Charity: Western Harvest Ministries, teaching life skills to disadvantaged youth through rodeo sports
Team Members: (John) Kelly Clark (rodeo instructor); Scott Mendes (former World Champion bull rider); Jeff Copenhaver (roping instructor). After leaving the sport of cattle-roping, Jeff founded the first “cowboy church,” bringing the gospel to cowboys and rodeo athletes. He, Scott, and Jeff are playing for Scott’s Western Harvest Ministries, which uses rodeo sports instruction to reach disadvantaged and at-risk youth.
TEAM DETROIT BELIEVERS
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Charity: Dominican Literacy Center, which works to reduce Detroit’s 47% adult illiteracy rate
Team Members: David Stephen (law student); Crystal Willis (law school graduate); and Eleisha Teasley (prospective medical student). These smart, achieving graduate students—who became friends while attending college in Atlanta—want to advance a positive image of Detroit, and provide living proof that their home city produces successful, capable people.
TEAM FIRST & FAITH
Hometown: Strongsville, OH
Charity: One More, founded by Benjamin and Kirsten Watson to spread the love and hope of Christ to One More soul by meeting real needs, promoting education and providing enrichment opportunities through charitable initiatives and partnerships
Team Members: Benjamin Watson (tight end); Reggie Hodges (punter); Robert Brookes (team chaplain at time of taping)—all with the Cleveland Browns. These men of the NFL love football and love the Lord! Watson, a pastor’s son, founded his charity to help the community and share his faith.
TEAM GIRLS OF GRACE
Hometown: San Diego & Chula Vista, CA
Charity: Life Acts, provides groceries & household goods to approx 6,000 people in need each month
Team Members: Cynthia”Cindy” Shaw (Life Acts director), Elizabeth Samala (Life Christian Center & Life Acts CFO); Ezraley Samala (child support services student clerical aide). The Samala family started a full Gospel ministry to restore broken lives with simple acts of love, food, and resources. With this movement, Life Acts was birthed. Now the Samala sisters work alongside Cindy, their father, and pastors in this outreach ministry of Life Christian Center International Ministries of San Diego. If they win, they’ll buy industrial shelving and refrigerated storage for Life Acts, allowing that ministry to touch even more lives.
TEAM HELLO KIDNEY
Hometown: Gadsden, AL
Charity: National Living Donor Assistance Center, providing financial support to individuals who volunteer to be living organ donors
Team Members: Kelley Zeringue (Christian romance author); Rene Zeringue (youth minister); J.R. Zeringue (cheerleading gym owner and coach). This family is ready to share their testimony to raise awareness about living organ donation: Two years ago, Kelley donated a kidney to one of her husband’s employees, and today both are healthy and happy. Now she encourages everyone to “share your spare.”
TEAM HOLY ROLLERS
Hometown: Simi Valley and Moorpark, CA
Charity: Live Ride Christian Church’s Annual Angel Tree Toy Drive, which delivers Christmas presents to children whose parents are in prison
Team Members: Billy Brown (pool man); Brian Matthews (truck driver); Dana Palminteri (cosmetologist). These three bikers, with their Bible-verse leather jackets and inspiring tats, spread the Good Word on their Harleys as part of a very unconventional ministry that reaches those who might not otherwise be exposed to God’s saving grace.
TEAM MEN OF MOTOR CITY
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Charity: Trinity Deliverance Church and its outreach to drug addicts, criminals, and at-risk youth
Team Members: Ron Daniels (ordained pastor & quality assurance chemist); Lavell Neal (Marriott banquet supervisor); Jimmie Davis (semi-truck driver, Ford Motor Company). These men are committed to seeing the Motor City overcome hardship and achieve greatness—and believe that transforming Detroit into a prosperous city begins by transforming the lives of the dejected.
TEAM PREACHIN’ DIVAS
Hometown: Oakland, Concord, and Berkeley, CA
Charity: A.D. Willis Memorial Center – a family life center construction project for their East Oakland community
Team Members: Michele Brown (writer); LaShawn Taylor (underwriting assistant); Jacquelyn Melton-Jenkins (graphic designer). These self-proclaimed divas love to preach and teach the word of God —and to serve their East Oakland community through their church, Lily of the Valley Christian Center. One of the outreach ministries of the church is Project Lily Love, a service that provides resources and referrals to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Their passion is fueled by LaShawn’s story. Her former husband was discovered to have been living with AIDS for more than 10 years, undiagnosed. Miraculously, LaShawn and her child were both found HIV negative.
TEAM REDEEMED REDNECKS
Hometown: Jackson and Covington, GA
Charity: Burning Bush Youth and Family Intervention Center, which offers positive solutions to youth and families struggling with life-controlling issues
Team Members: Mike Redman (professor); Rachel Stubbs (band director); Jeremiah Redman (engineer). These proud rednecks, bluegrass singers, and disc golf players are also committed to community outreach—providing food, resources, and services to the poor, sick, and shut-in.
TEAM RED ROOTS
Hometown: Moss Point, MS
Charity: Home of Grace, an addiction recovery program founded by their pastor—and the first place the Red Roots performed
Team Members: Natalie, Nika, and Nicole Taylor (sisters and band members). These 21-year-old triplets formed the Christian-pop-country band “Red Roots,” named in honor of their red hair and their renewal in the blood of Christ. These sweet Southern girls are also passionate, tough competitors!
TEAM RIGHTEOUS RUBIES
Hometown: Ontario and Corona, CA
Charity: The Ruby Project, dedicated to helping physically, sexually, and emotionally abused teenage girls
Team Members: Peace Amadi (psychology professor); Ndidi Amadi (teacher); Ogechi Nwankwo (RN). These fun-loving, high-energy, Nigerian-American “sisters” are passionate about The Ruby Project, which was founded by Peace and her good friend Leslie Nwoke. The Ruby Project grew out of both of their personal experiences being teased and bullied in school and their heart for empowering women and girls who’ve experienced all kinds of abuse. The Ruby Project provides retreats for young women suffering the effects of abuse and trauma and addresses issues pertinent to them through their YouTube channel (rubycommunity). Check them out also on Twitter (@RubyInsiders) and Facebook (rubyinsiders)!
TEAM ROCKIN’ RABBIS
Hometown: Newburgh, Nyack, and Roslyn Heights, NY
Charity: UJA Federation of New York’s Hurricane Sandy Fund
Team Members: Philip Weintraub (rabbi); Jeffrey Abraham (rabbi); Eve Eichenholtz (student rabbi).These three aren’t your average rabbis: They love the Bible, game shows—and Jeff Foxworthy! After Philip’s In-laws’ home and neighborhood were nearly destroyed in Hurricane Sandy as well as Jeffrey and Eve’s respective communities, they have all been passionate about efforts to help those in need following this historic natural disaster.
TEAM SISTERS OF MARY
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Charity: Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Any winnings will be used to provide for the futures of the Sisters in the Order, and to ensure that they are provided for as they advance into retirement
Team Members: Sister Peter Joseph (novice); Sister Maria Suso (Professed Sister); Sister Evangeline (novice). These three young nuns love a challenge—from soccer to Scrabble. They’re very committed to religious life, and want to provide support for the Sisters in their order, especially the older Sisters, who have been sources of inspiration to them.
TEAM WAGNER WARRIORS
Hometown: Owasso and Tulsa, OK
Charity: Wagner Ministries, International
Team Members: Daniel Wagner (student); Joshua Wagner (student); Jesse Wagner (student). These brothers and best friends have been part of their family’s international ministry their whole lives. They’re also four-time Bible Quiz Bowl champions, and are determined to win on behalf of their family’s mission work, bringing food, clothing and shelter to people in the poorest places on earth.
TEAM WOMEN OF FAITH
Hometown: Grapevine, TX, Franklin, TN, and Frisco, TX
Charity: A21 Campaign, which seeks to abolish slavery in the 21st century
Team Members: Kari Jobe (singer); Lisa Harper (author); Sheila Walsh (author/speaker). Kari, “the Carrie Underwood of worship music,” Sheila, an author and inspirational speaker originally from rural Scotland, and Lisa, a Christian writer who specializes in reaching women outside the typical church bubble, have a passion for helping women all over the world. They are playing for A21, an anti-trafficking organization.
Comment: What’s great about this game is that the participants are actually living out their biblical ideals by playing for causes larger than themselves. Godspeed to all of them!
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11