ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Preaching the word of God and playing football have been a part of Ray Drew's life for as long as he can remember.
Today, the rising University of Georgia junior and defensive end for the Bulldogs is a licensed minister and travels to churches throughout the state in between football practice and games to preach and minister.
During a sermon delivered at Browns Chapel Baptist Church on a recent Sunday, Drew told the story of Moses and the 10 plagues of Egypt.
"Come out of your pharaoh mindset," he preached. "We as Christians start to fall victim to this mindset. We start to think that the nice house we live in was earned through many hard years of work and dedication to a job. We believe just because we drive a Mercedes Benz, we are above the Lord."
Drew accepted "the call" to become a minister in the eighth grade, and though he grew up Baptist, today he said he doesn't affiliate himself with a specific denomination because he feels like denominations divide people as Christians.
"There's one God and one way to heaven, and that's through Jesus Christ, his son," he said. "I don't believe there's going to be a Methodist heaven and a Baptist heaven and so on. I believe (heaven) is going to be a multi-generational and multi-racial celebration."
Drew began playing football for fun when he was 4 years old and didn't think much about it until he was in middle school and people began to notice him and make comments about how good he was. Today he finds it "mind-boggling" how God has brought the two together to help spread the Gospel.
"When I first got here and played my first game with UGA, and we came out of the tunnel and I felt 90,000 fans cheering, I understood why people follow and support the Bulldog nation so strongly," he said.
"Being on the Georgia Bulldogs football team is an awesome opportunity. I love football, but it also gives me a bigger platform to spread the Gospel and appeal to more people."
Balancing life, football, school and ministerial duties is not as hard as many might think, Drew said.
The biggest challenge is finding time to do his personal devotionals and Bible studies.
"If a service or a revival happens during the week, it's a little tougher," he said. "There have been times on the weekend when I have to travel to preach a service and then come back to Athens and jump right back into football, but they usually don't conflict with each other too much."