February 22 2010

Washington Post article
November 23, 1991

Weekly Bible Sessions Bring Redskins Together Off the Field

by Carey Kinsolving

Oh, Lorrrrd! We mag-ni-fy your name,” chorused the husky men, their voices roaring with enthusiasm. As they sang, one of them used his pair of huge hands to clap out the beat to the hymn.

After the singing came the prayer, the praise and then the Bible study. Throughout the recent Wednesday evening, the 15 Washington Redskins gathered at the Northern Virginia home of wide receiver Ricky Sanders enjoyed the special fellowship that they have come to share in their weekly sessions off the field.

Time was not spent here reveling in the Redskins’ current winning season, which now stands at 11-0. Instead, the players, along with six of their wives, learned more about the word of God.

As the study began, the children were ushered downstairs to play under the eye of a nanny. At one point, 2-year-old Jonathan Settle came upstairs crying. His dad, running back John Settle, put his Bible aside and scooped up the tot to comfort him. The crying stopped instantly.

Defensive tackle Tim Johnson opened the study with prayer, which began: “We are children served by your grace, saved by the mercy of God. I thank you, Lord, for this, that it is no work of our own. All because of your wooing and drawing us unto yourself that we might come to the realization that without you we are dead in trespasses and sins.”

The 35-minute study dealt with three chapters from the Book of Revelation, which describes God’s judgment upon the Earth immediately before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

A mixture of praise for answered prayers and petitions for current concerns followed. Knees got a lot of praise and prayer on this night.

“I’d like to praise the Lord for my knee,” said running back Earnest Byner. “I believe in the strength of His healing.” Byner said he could hardly walk the Sunday night after the Atlanta Falcons game, but by the next Tuesday, the knee had improved dramatically, so much so that he could play against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Defensive end Charles Mann chimed in, saying he wondered while looking at game films how he could walk at all after a hit he took. Mann has had six operations on his right knee.

“So I’ve been looking at lots of knees lately,” Mann said to the others’ laughter. Mann told his teammates they need to be thankful for little things, like being able to walk.

Ryner also requested prayer for several ministries to the homeless in which some team members are involved. One of those, the Foundation for Moral Restoration, was established by cornerback Darrell Green.

For free safety Brad Edwards and other Redskins, who cannot attend church on Sundays, the weekly Bible study is a spiritual lifeline.

Edwards said he became a Christian at the age of 10 in a South Carolina Baptist church, but held back on a full commitment to serving Christ. In August, after years of vacillating, Edwards said, he realized the futility of seeking happiness in the heady perks of pro football.

He said the Bible study “has become a great time of fellowship and a tremendous learning experience for me in the Scriptures. I feel at peace with myself because I know where I’m going, what’s in store for me, and the promises God has made.”

Edwards is not the only Redskin looking beyond football glory. When asked to respond to the idea that it’s easy to trust God with a winning record, Johnson said:

“You need to be more aware of grace when you are winning because of the temptation of pride. Bible study gives you focus for what we’re really living for.”