All that would have to happen to keep the Billiards Ministry’s dreams alive—of winning this match, then competing in the local Cities tournament, and ultimately, a return to the American Pool Association national championships in Las Vegas—would be for Amy Schweithelm, a new level three player, to beat the opponent’s strong and veteran level four player. In other words, the chances of Amy winning were next to nothing. If there was any chance to return a Rock Church team to the APA’s tournament in June, run by the world’s largest amateur pool league, they had to have this win.
Trembling, Amy looked like she was about to step up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning during the seventh game of the World Series—without ever having swung a bat before.
“It’s OK,” said Mike McNeil, the Billiard’s Ministry leader. “Just stay focused. Play your game and don’t let the moment intimidate you.” Mike’s own heart was nearly pounding out of his chest. If Amy didn’t win, Mike’s last shooter would not only have to win his match, he would have to win in a 5-0 shutout against a level seven opponent—the highest there is. Again, it would be nearly impossible. Everything hinged on Amy.
When Amy’s opponent scratched on the eight ball in the first rack of three, everyone held their breath wondering if a miracle could really happen. Amy was beaten easily in the second rack, and now it would come down to the final one. Her hands shaking as they held the cue, Amy guided all her balls into the pockets and suddenly, it was down to her last two balls—the six ball and the eight ball. She was hesitating about what to do when Mike called a time out—her only one. “Thank God,” she said, as she didn’t have a clue on what to do or how to do it.
Mike took her aside and told her how to shoot the six ball for good position on the eight ball. With all the pressure, could she summon up the finest shot of her life? Amy executed the shot perfectly, setting up an easy shot on the eight ball. And suddenly it was over—she’d beaten him. She had done what nobody, least of all Amy, thought she could. It paved the way for Mikey Wilborn, the final player on the team, to only have to play flawlessly in the final game.
Mike shot a solid game, and they won the match. The Billiards Ministry team would once again represent the Rock at the APA national championships!
Mike was ecstatic. It had been four years since he had asked God, “What do you want me to do to serve you?” God replied with the idea that a billiards ministry would be right up his ally. And it was. Mike had spent twenty years as a Navy sailor who had a long history of shooting pool, shooting his mouth, and drinking heavily. On the night he crashed his motorcycle—a result of drinking and driving—his foot was ripped from his leg at the ankle. He woke up to see that his foot had been reattached. He committed his life to the God who was gracious enough to give him a second chance.
That’s why he goes into the bar as the leader of the Billiards Ministry, talking to his competitors, making friends, and telling them about Jesus. In fact, the ministry today consists of eleven teams, all committed to competing around town, and sharing the message that Jesus loves them enough to die for their sins and rose again to give them eternal life. His players don’t have to be good, they just have to view competing on the team as an opportunity to lead people to Christ.
And led they have. The team has seen many decisions for Christ, as well as baptisms and changed lives.
So what happened when one of the ministry’s teams represented Rock Church last year at the 2014 national championships? A team from Louisiana gave Mike and his teammates a good drubbing early on. But that was fine with Mike. He had travelled with his beloved team to an all-expenses paid trip to the championships in Las Vegas, enjoyed the town for four days, shared the Gospel with his competitors—and he was even accompanied by his dad, who was a part of the team. It was a dream come true, and the trip of a lifetime.
“I’m bursting at the seams with joy,” says Mike, “just to be in my team’s presence as we continue to seek after ways and opportunities to serve and share Christ—and find new ways to enjoy each other—just as we do with the Lord Himself.”
Want to follow the team on its journey? Check out our Facebook page here!
For more information about the Billiards Ministry, click here »
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