By Grelan Muse Sr.
Pew Sports

Rideshare giant Lyft announced Aug. 31 its official partnership with LSU Sports Properties, serving as the official rideshare partner of LSU Athletics.

Along with in-venue signage and event marketing, this partnership creates additional transportation options for fans arriving at and departing from LSU Athletics events in Baton Rouge.

Lyft additionally provides a responsible and reliable transportation option to fans in the Greater New Orleans area who might prefer to “stand up and roar” locally during games.

First-time Lyft riders who use promo code “GEAUXTIGERS” will receive up to $5 off their first four rides and fans are encouraged to download and ride with Lyft.

“We’re thrilled to be the official rideshare partner of LSU Athletics,” said Jessica Inman, Lyft Louisiana Market Manager. “Partnering with the LSU community connects fans with Lyft’s responsible, reliable, and affordable service. With a fleet of local drivers in both New Orleans and Baton Rouge, we are looking forward to the start of the season.”

“LSU Sports Properties works hand-in-hand with the athletics department in an effort to constantly improve our fans experience,” said Ward Wyatt, general manager of LSU Sports Properties. “With Lyft as the Official Rideshare partner of LSU Athletics, we are able to provide another transportation option to our fans getting to and from athletics events.”

 

By Mark Ellis
Special to Inside The Pew

At only 11-years-old he was throwing 50-yard passes with his older brother David Carr, then a rookie NFLOakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr quarterback. Raised in a godly Christian home, younger brother Derek sowed his share of wild oats until the love of Jesus expressed through a woman drew his heart back to God.

“I grew up in this church and I knew who Christ was and I knew who God was and I loved him,” Derek shared in his home church in Fresno, Calif., in 2015.

But even though Derek prayed to God and knew who He was, he didn’t fully give his life to Christ and follow Him until later.

“I grew up loving football, basketball, and baseball,” he recounted. “My dad went to all my games and if he couldn’t be at a game, he would call me on the phone and pray for me. He was always there for me. My mom was always there to pray for me and talk to me. My family life was awesome. I had parents who loved me.”

His father taught him about discipline and order by using a ball box in the garage. “He wanted everything put back in that box a certain exact way. It was his house and that was how he wanted it done and I respected him,” Carr said.

The family lived in Bakersfield, Calif., before they moved to Texas in 2002 when David became the first draft pick of the Houston Texans. Derek and his family moved back to Bakersfield for his senior year, where he attended Bakersfield Christian High School.

Derek admits he made some bad choices in high school. “I was smoking weed, having sex.

I wish I didn’t do those things. I was out partying, staying out late.”

Still, he maintained a façade around his parents. “I was a different kid on Sunday than I was on Friday and Saturday night.

“I would still tell people about Jesus because I believed in Him and knew it was the truth, but I would go do these things and say, ‘Father, forgive me.’ That’s a scary way to live.”

Derek Carr’s Testimony

In three years playing as a high school quarterback in Texas and California, he passed for nearly 7,000 yards. The recruitment letters began to flow in from USC, Cal, Notre Dame, and Miami. “Stanford recruited me until they got my transcripts,” he joked.

Before Derek’s grandfather passed away he went to visit him at the hospital. While his grandfather was too weak to speak to him, the dying man wrote Jeremiah 29:11 on a board:

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Deeply touched by the encounter, Derek later got the verse tattooed on his wrist.

After he enrolled at Fresno State, he competed for the starting job as a freshman. “God knew I wasn’t ready to handle that. If He was to give me all those things when my life wasn’t right yet, oh my goodness, I wouldn’t be here, you would be praying for me,” he confessed.

He was still deeply enmeshed in the party lifestyle. “There are things I don’t want to remember. I was so selfish and hurt other people. My heart wasn’t right. I wanted what I wanted. I wanted to please myself. I was thinking I was living the life.

“The life I was living was leading me down a road to destruction and death. That’s where I was headed,” he said.

But one day God used a beautiful young woman, Heather Neel, to get his attention. They met at BJ’s Brewhouse, where she worked as a server. “I hit on her. I talked to her. I used a corny pickup line and it worked. She told me I needed to come to church with her.”

Derek knew he should be going to church but never found the time.

Heather began to pray for Derek to come back to the Lord. “One day we got in an argument over something. I won the argument and then she grabbed my hand and started praying for me.”

She followed up the prayer with a 10-page letter. One line in the letter stuck in his gut: “you’re not the person I thought you were.”

As Derek pondered the implications of her letter, the Holy Spirit began to pierce his heart and he began weeping. “I was this mean, tough, football player and I was bawling his eyes out, alone, in my bedroom, in the house I shared with my buddies,” he recounted.

He knew the time had come for him to get right with Jesus. Derek recognized that nothing could fill the void in his heart except the love of Christ. He dropped to his knees in surrender and began to pray.

“My life is yours. Forgive me of my sins; forgive me of the sins I don’t even know I committed. My heart is yours. Take it and do what you want with it. No matter what you tell me to do the answer is yes. I’ve been sitting on the fence long enough. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

“That is the day my life changed and I said no to sin.” He married Heather in 2012 and they have two sons.

During his three years as a starter at Fresno State, Derek threw for 12,843 passing yards and 113 touchdowns. InDerek Carr stretches before NFL game in 2015. 2013, Carr won the Sammy Baugh Trophy, which is awarded annually to the country’s top college QB. He finished in 8th place in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Drafted by the Oakland Raiders, Carr had 53 career touchdown passes, the second most by a quarterback in his first two seasons. He replaced Aaron Rodgers in the 2016 Pro Bowl.

He gives glory to God for transforming his life. “Don’t make the stupid choices I did and search for the things this world tells you is right,” he said.

“Give Jesus true Lordship and control over your life. Say you are God and I’m going to live for you. The greatest decision I ever made is to give him Lordship over my life.”

Photo cutlines:

Top: Derek Carr

Center: Derek Carr, right, with his wife, Heather, with one of their two sons.

Lower: Derek Carr stretches during pre-game warm-up.

By Natalie Tristan
Special to Inside The Pew

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It’s safe to say that Rio will be the most famous city in the world for the next twoBrazilPhoto1 weeks. Hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to Rio for the 2016 game to watch the world’s best athletes compete. Six members of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) men’s soccer team will also be in Rio. However, they will be there to minister to the local communities surrounding the Games.

Juan Herrera, Juan Ramon Cardenas, Mike Havdra, Felipe Melo, Renato Martin and head coach Clem Oancea are helping throughout impoverished areas of Brazil, as well as partnering with Street Child United who is working to bring hope and love to the homeless children of Rio.

The SAGU team arrived in Brazil on July 26 and they were quick to get down to business.  The first favela (Brazilian shanty town) they visited is called “Vaquemquer,” which means “go if you want to.”

“As you can see from the name it is a very scary place,” explains Coach Oancea, “The locals and young boys have been telling us that it is a dying favela and it has been called ‘go if you want to and leave if you can,’ but the Lord has been reaching souls not only on the soccer fields but also in the street evangelism.”

SAGU’s main objective for Brazil is to spread the love of Jesus through the game of soccer. Early in the mission’s trip, the boys experienced a heartbreaking day that would be a lasting memory. The team visited with a Brazilian girls’ soccer team that had lost one of their teammates in a motorcycle accident earlier in the day. They spent time talking with the girls and gave them soccer balls. Given the circumstances they decided not to play a game. However, after the boys shared their testimonies, the girls changed their minds and challenged the boys to a game.

That small match is just one of the many visits Coach Oancea will never forget, “Our boys have been touched by the
Lord in so many ways. The up and coming players coming from Brazil said to us, ‘coach you came to Brazil to show us a Brazil that we never knew.’ I’m so humbled by the lives changed, and not just the locals but ours as well.”

Captain Juan Herrera is quick to agree with Oancea, “I will not see life the same way ever again.  This experience is incredible and indescribable! We often say we shouldn’t take life for granted, but being here has made us realize that having a pair of shoes is a true blessing.”

In addition to teaching soccer to the street children, SAGU team members are organizing evangelistic meetings at soccer events, holding leadership seminars to help empower the local churches in serving their own communities. They will also visit and serve families through repairing homes and giving food packages, as well as praying with them.

According to UNICEF, estimates suggest that 30 children and adolescents are murdered daily in Brazil.  More than one in three adolescent deaths in the country is a result of murder, compared to one in 20 deaths among the total population. During a major sporting event, children are at an even higher risk of atrocities including murder, sexual abuse and child labour.

While partnering with Street Child United for parts of their trip, SAGU will be committed to making a difference forBrazilPhoto3 the children of Brazil who literally call the streets home. Street Child United uses the power and popularity of sports to provide a global platform for street children to be heard and seen- on a level playing field.

There is no doubt that Brazil will be bustling with people this August. Despite the dignitaries and famous athletes, SAGU’s Juan Ramón Cárdenas is humbled to serve the street children, “There is so much this great country has to offer the rest of the world. I am overwhelmed by the people’s passion to live life to the fullest every day. Their hospitality towards visitors, deep national identity, and their fervent longing to please the one and only true God is undoubtedly contagious. It is my sincere desire to take and share those Brazilian qualities’ with my brothers & sisters back in the USA.”

The SAGU six will arrive back to campus on Aug. 10.  They will immediately jump into preseason training.  The Lions first official game is Aug. 22 against Paul Quinn College.

Photo cutline

Six members of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s soccer team are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 31st Olympiad. (Photos courtesy of Natalie Tristan)

By Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis
Special to ASSIST News

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — He grew up wearing knickers sewn by his grandma, endured the rage of his Vietnam vet father, and learned to play golf smacking a wiffle ball around the house.

Bubba Watson, 37, arguably golf’s most colorful character, won the Los Angeles Riviera tournament Feb. 21, and he credited Jesus and the Bible with the win, his ninth PGA tour victory since 2010.Bubba Watson

“I have a lot of fears in my life, which, as I’m reading the Bible, I’m not supposed to have — but I do,” Watson told the New York Times. “Me changing as a person has helped my golf, not my swing.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Watson would lose games in his brain. He struggled with insecurity, melted down after a bad shot, and looked for people to blame when things went wrong. He used curse words and rankled other players with some unfriendliness.

But with the help of his wife, his caddie, and fellow Christian golfers (who meet weekly at a PGA Bible study), Watson is overcoming the temperamental side of his personality.

“We’ve been working on it, a hard, slow process,” Watson said in Golf Digest. “Instead of swing thoughts and swing, it’s all about the mind for me. It’s staying patient, and having Teddy (the caddie) in my ear. Teddy’s been a blessing. It’s been a struggle over five years, but we’re working in the right direction.”

His Twitter account is telling. Followed by 1.54 million, @bubbawatson describes him in this order: “Christian, husband, daddy, pro golfer.”

Watson told BillyGraham.org that he is “getting more in the Word and realizing that golf is just an avenue for Jesus to use me to reach as many people as I can.”Bubba_Watson_with_wife_and_adopted_child

His walk with Christ started when he was 19. A neighbor invited him to church. It was his first time in a service. “I went to church with her a few times,” he told CNN. “I listened, thought about, gave myself to the Lord.”

During college, his church attendance tapered off, but in 2004 he got baptized with his new wife, Angie, and renewed his faith.

On his first date with Angie, a college and professional basketball player, she advised him that she couldn’t bear children – and Watson told her that was fine. To date, they have two adopted kids, Caleb and Dakota.

After his baptism, he drifted away from God. Then his caddie yelled at him for his stormy behavior on the links, and Watson realized he needed to take things more seriously.

“I’ve been reading my Bible and getting stronger in my faith,” he said.

Today, Watson is a very visible and vocal Christian. After the won the Master’s at Augusta for the first time in 2012, he said, “I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Famously, Watson never received any more golf instruction than from his dad when he was a tyke using a sawed-off club. That’s astonishing because the lefty hits the ball farther than pretty much anybody in the PGA (over 350 yards). And he can put spins on the ball that produce tree-rounding curves that will make you think he has Jedi powers.

To win the 2012 Master’s, Watson hit his ball out of some pine trees in a boomeranging hook that landed on the green only a few feet away from the pin of the second hole. It would seem that whacking that wiffle ball around the house taught him about spin.

Watson donates tons of money to various causes. When Ping fell short in raising money for a Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Watson gave $110,000 to reach the goal. He gave $35,000 to a high school and spoke emotionally about his own low self-esteem and poor grades. He helps earthquake victims and sick kids.

Watson loves Christian rapper LeCrae. “Lecrae said it the best. He doesn’t want to be a celebrity. He doesn’t want to be a superstar. He just wants to be the middle man for you to see God through him.”

Apparently, that rap has influenced the country boy from the Florida Panhandle. Watson and three other pro golfers formed the rap group “Golf Boys,” which is more antics than lyrics. Their single “Oh Oh Oh” is sponsored by Farmer’s Insurance Group, which gives $1,000 to charity for every 100,000 views.

Watson has his zany moments, cracking jokes on his Twitter account as frequently as he shares the gospel. He recently purchased the Dukes of Hazzard car called the General Lee and outfitted a golf-cart “hover craft” which floats on water. He comically refers to himself in the third person: “a guy from Florida named Bubba.” He has one pink driver shaft among his clubs.

Around his golfing schedule in Los Angeles, he managed to watch Justin Bieber rehearse and give his son an impromptu drum lesson. Incredibly, he also passed a kidney stone. He acted in a bit part for the T.V. show “Girl Meets World.” Is it ADD or does he use distraction to de-stress?

For the win at the Riviera, it all worked.

Photo credits:
Top, Bubba Watson takes a swing. Bottom, Bubba Watson and his wife, Angie, with their first adopted child.

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Now that Super Bowl 50 is history, one organization continues its call for more awareness on sex trafficking that occurs during the annual game and other large events.Nita Belles

Nita Belles, founder of In Our Backyard, recently took her fight for victims to San Francisco, taking issue with journalists and supporters of the sex industry who called increased sex trafficking during gatherings of this sort as an urban myth.

“An urban myth? Are they serious?” questions the human trafficking expert. “There is no myth about it.

“Traffickers smell the money present at the Super Bowl celebrations and bring their victims here to exploit them and take the money. We are not talking about voluntary prostitution,” said Belles, author of a book that bears the same title of her organization. “The fact is that adults and children are being forced into sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world—and that includes the United States. It is happening 365 days a year in every ZIP code. Trafficking, and even the recruitment of new victims, absolutely escalates around large events that draw big crowds like this week’s Super Bowl.”

Belles lead a team of professionals who worked non-stop to ensure that those who are being trafficked have a fighting chance at freedom and that the sex buyers and traffickers will be brought to justice.

“There’s a saying that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world,” Belles said. “But it’s the oldest abuse in the world. Here is my request to the media: Don’t be quiet. Don’t fall prey to the lie that human trafficking is not increasing.  All the traffickers ask is that we keep quiet and perpetuate the myth that it doesn’t happen here. I ask for the media’s help in making it hard to be a trafficker.”

A 2014 study by the University of Arizona about increased sex trafficking during large events stated that “The Super Bowl, or any large event which provides a significant concentration of people in a relatively confined urban area, becomes a desirable location for a trafficker to bring their victims for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.”

After last year’s Super Bowl in Arizona, the FBI announced that Arizona police departments and law enforcement officers conducted recovery operations for six months leading up to the Super Bowl, where agencies recovered numerous juvenile victims, ranging in age from 13 to 17, as well as adult victims who had been subjected to physical abuse by their traffickers.

Overall through their efforts arrests included 360 customers of commercial sex, 68 traffickers and the recovery of 30 juvenile victims.  Belles said that in 2014, 45 arrests were made around the New Jersey Super Bowl, with 16 juveniles recovered.  In New Orleans the year before, 85 arrests made and five victims recovered.

“Any time you have a large number of people gathering in one place with a party atmosphere—especially males, it’s prime ground for sex trafficking,” Belles said. “I know of animals who are treated with more respect than those who are trafficked. They are forced into horrendous acts that we don’t even want to imagine. Prostitutes are usually victims,” she says, “and ‘john’ is too nice a word for someone who should be called a ‘sex buyer.’ She adds, “Those who are being trafficked are precious children of God and deserve to live free of modern slavery. That is why I do what I do.”

Belles explains that escape is difficult because victims are closely watched and often traumatically bonded to their captors. Those that are rescued are hoping that they can get the help needed to find a new, safe, happy life.  Sex trafficking victims, particularly minors, have a tough road in front of them, even under the best circumstances. They need trauma-based treatment, kindness, understanding, a stable and non-threatening environment, and lots of time.

“Many will need professional counseling and medical or mental health services to recover from the atrocities that have happened to them,” Belles said. “Those recovered in the anti-trafficking efforts in the Bay Area will be offered that help.”

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