Because of his deep admiration for spreading the Gospel and coaching basketball, it’s safe to assume that James Perry, Jr. is savoring the best of both worlds.
“Well, I love basketball for one,” said Perry, Jr. told Making Headline News during a recent interview. “I love mentoring the youth and I love pastoring. Having a gym at my church makes it so much. I mean, it’s hard work, but it’s community service.”
To his distinct credit, Perry, Jr. is strategically impacting lives both from the pulpit and on the hardwood.
A former Abbeville (Alabama) High School and Lander University basketball standout, Perry, Jr. is widely known as the Founder and Senior Pastor at Empowerment Worship Center in Greenville, South Carolina.
Interesting enough, when the 44-year-old minister isn’t decked out in his spiffy, flowing robe and giving sermons within the four walls of his church that is housed at 31 Calhoun Avenue in Greenville, chances are he’s somewhere nearby on EWC’s campus, teaching all things basketball fundamentals and mechanics as an assistant coach of the South Carolina Raptors seventh grade AAU squad.
For Perry, Jr., while preaching isn’t something about which he was passionate even as a young preacher’s kid — or PK — he admittedly has always held a basketball close to his heart, considering the sport served as an outlet, of sorts, particularly with regards to him bolting home for college.
Even upon finally accepting his calling to preach the Gospel some 18-plus year ago, this 6-foot-4 giant of a preacher was still very much active in competitive hoops.
How else to explain why today, approximately two years removed from his congregation having moved to its present location, Perry, Jr. still acknowledges how blessed and grateful he is to have a gymnasium a few dribbles away from his sanctuary?
Talk about savoring the best of both worlds.
“I am passionate about basketball because I love it and it gives me the opportunity to teach and build relationships with young men,” Perry, Jr., who’s coached five years at the high school ranks, said. “It gives me the chance to be a counselor, a motivator and mentor while being a coach.”
More than anything else, it seems, coaching the sport he loves essentially serves as a spiritual GPS system, of sorts, particularly as it relates to helping youngsters find their way to Christ, all while simultaneously learning good sportsmanship and upgrading their skills and fundamentals.
BECOME EMPOWERED: http://empowermentworshipcenter.org/
In many cases, Perry, Jr. said, coaching basketball is synonymous to preaching to the masses in that he’s often faced with the sometimes brutal tasks of taking the good with the bad encounters and vice versa.
“Basketball can be challenging and there are good and bad days,” Perry, Jr. explained. “You apply this to life, because no matter how hard it gets, you never quit and you keep pushing. Many times, the kids get down on themselves, and this gives me the opportunity to lift them up. Life is the same way, but it will present roadblocks and challenges and they must know they have to keep pushing through.”
Much like Perry, Jr., a Charlotte, North Carolina native, had found himself doing while growing up in a rather strict, Christian-oriented environment in which attending church had seemingly become as customary as, say, going to school.
Regardless, it is because of his father’s tough love and unyielding Godly wisdom, coupled with his strict parental commands that have greatly empowered Perry, Jr. to help empower youth athletes on the importance of staying empowered through Biblical principles and basketball — all on the campus of the Empowerment Worship Center.
“The sky is the limit because we teach our kids the game and life,” said Perry, Jr. whose Raptors have competed in such places as Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Florida. “We push the student athlete and enforce accountability.”
All while savoring the best of both worlds.
Which, in Perry, Jr.’s case, is just the way God intended it to be all along.
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Andre Johnson is Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.