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Football, fathers and the big plays in life

By Scott Harrup

Defensive linemen can outweigh running backs by a good 100 pounds. Rarely are they five times as large as an opposing player.

But Anthony Evans clearly remembers trying to get past such a giant.

“It was my two sisters, my brother and me against Dad when we played ‘living room football,’ ” Evans tells Today’s Pentecostal Evangel. “We pushed the furniture aside and Dad was on his knees because ‘then we’re even.’ He didn’t joke around. He would have us running real plays. And we’re, like, ‘Dad, seriously, we’re 6. Come on, stop already.’”

Evans laughs, because the memory is treasured.

Evans’ father, Tony Evans, pastors Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church’s 7,000 congregants in Dallas and is a nationally known speaker with Promise Keepers. But he has never lost sight of the priority position his children hold in his life.

“The greatest thing Dad did for me was to live at home what he was preaching at church,” Anthony Evans says. “If I had seen that his ministry didn’t align with his life, that would have messed me up.”

The younger Evans is far from messed up. He’s passionate about his relationship with Jesus Christ, and is communicating that vibrant faith through his music. Now touring in conjunction with the release of his second album, Letting Go, Evans also ministers with his father across the country. Their relationship as ministry partners is a natural outgrowth of the father/son bond they continue to build.

“I’m very proud of Anthony,” Tony Evans says. “I’m excited about the fact he’s written most of his songs himself and he writes them from the depths of his heart and he’s very conscious of wanting to please the Lord and wanting God to use him. He means the world to me.”

The Evans family still gathers for living room football, but now all the action is on NFL broadcasts. The grown siblings (including Baylor University football standout Jonathan Evans, who recently signed with the San Diego Chargers) find their attention torn between the TV screen and their father.

“We all come in to watch Dad watch the game,” Anthony says. “It’s crazy. When football comes on, you hear screams. You only hear screams in two places — when Dad’s in the pulpit and when he’s watching football.”

Anthony’s own experiences on the gridiron include a powerful memory of his father. Tony Evans knew he was going to disappoint his son when he had to miss an important game for a speaking engagement. In the middle of the event, he flew back into town to catch the second half before flying immediately back to the conference.

“I was on the sidelines,” Anthony says, “and I turned around and saw him and thought That’s my dad up there.”

It was a moment when Anthony’s earthly father suddenly gave him an insight into his Heavenly Father.

“Sometimes you feel like God has so much stuff going on that He won’t have time for you,” Anthony says. “Then you look up and He’s standing right there. When you thought He wasn’t coming, He’s standing right there.”

Scott Harrup is associate editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

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