KANNAPOLIS — When the soccer season
sponsored and funded by First
in Kannapolis began to wind down, Chris and Jennifer
Roman realized they were going to miss the new friends they found while
mingling with church families at the soccer field.
So they agreed to start visiting the church. They had talked
often about their desire to find a church home during their five years of
marriage. Both were what they call “God conscious” but not professed
Within a month they joined the church by baptism. Jennifer
said it “felt right” from the first. “We’re supposed to be here,” she said. “If
not for the soccer ministry I don’t think we’d be born-again Christians.”
Before what discipleship minister Haven Parrott calls a
“kairos” moment turning the church toward community outreach, the Romans might
not have felt immediate acceptance there.
Both sport piercings in their face and Chris’ arms are
heavily tattooed with designs and the names of his sons.
But Chris said First Baptist,
which already enjoyed a “really good” reputation in town, has been like family.
He found instant camaraderie among people who “will do anything for you. They
will give you the shirt off their backs.”
“Our family told us Chris would probably scare people at First
Baptist with his tattoos,” Jennifer said. “But nobody here
judges him. It’s so nice.”
Chris played some high school soccer, and — despite working
two jobs so Jennifer can be a stay-at-home mom — he jumped in and helped his
son Aidan’s soccer coach, deacon chair Patti Miller.
It was Aidan’s first organized activity, and the family
learned about it through a flyer he brought home in his book bag from a special
school where he receives help for a speech disability.
It was when Parrott showed up to sit with her during a
surgical procedure for Aidan that Jennifer first thought: “Wow. This stranger
who doesn’t even know us wants to be there for us.”
Life is getting better for the Romans. Chris is working two
jobs after being laid off as an auto mechanic and almost losing their house.
“I have a new attitude toward life,” he said, sitting in the
church parlor with a red knit cap pulled over his ears. “You look at things
different. You appreciate the little things. It’s the whole package. I have a
new appreciation for things I didn’t see before.”
“God has opened our eyes,” Jennifer said.
All because an old church tried a new game — and scored.
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