While I was playing preseason football with the Carolina Panthers, my position coach was Sam Mills (who was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame this year). At practice, he would often tell me, “Go in and command the huddle.” He told me this because he understood that the huddle set the tone for the next play.

Whether you’re a football person or not, we all need our own huddle – a circle of relationships that accomplishes greater things together than any individual part of it could alone. 

We become together what we can’t be alone

We, too-the many-are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone.

Romans 12:5 Voice

This past Saturday, we were reminded that we all need that huddle of close friends who help us become who God intended us to be. At our men’s event titled “The Huddle: Where Radical Change Happens,” over 320 men from all over the Bay Area came to enjoy a night of tailgating, great food, fun games, engaging friendships, and learning together how to experience change through a relationship with God and spiritual friends.

We saw the truth and power of the Romans 12 scripture through vulnerable sharing by Josh Turner and Jacob Duran, who both talked about the profound influence spiritual relationships have had on their lives, along with an incredible lesson about how God is the path to finding true happiness.

We also saw first-hand “radical change” as Garrison Nakamoto and Josh Hulgan were baptized.

Garrison, a Santa Clara professional, met Jim Sharp while playing basketball at City Sports. He noticed how friendly and welcoming Jim was, talking to everyone who was there. This made Garrison think something was different about Jim, and he decided to come to this year’s Shoreline Service for the 3-on-3 tournament. He started studying the Bible to build a relationship with God shortly after. 

Though Garrison prided himself on being a good friend, he realized as he studied the Bible that he needed to take responsibility for the ways he had hurt those around him. He knew that before he could resolve the relationship gaps with his family and friends, he had to resolve his relationship gap with God. After going out to wrestle in prayer for hours about his hurt and guilt in relationships, God moved Garrison’s heart, helping him learn how to be a real friend. When he got baptized on Saturday, he shared about how he wanted to be the same light for others that Jim had been for him.

Joshua, a high school student from Santa Clara, was inspired to start studying the Bible just before Teen Camp this summer. Joshua deeply desired intimacy with his family, siblings, and friends, but had difficulty dealing with the insecurities that came with his learning disabilities. Through making God his friend, Joshua learned to embrace the things that initially made him feel weak. He became open, humble, and curious in his relationships with his family and friends. He initiated honest and difficult conversations, leading to a closer relationship with his parents. It was inspiring to see a teenager like Joshua decide to get baptized and live an open, free, and loving life.

It is incredible to see what God can do when we come together for the purpose of knowing him better and of forming great friendships that help us fulfill our purpose. Can’t wait to see more lives changed in the coming fall!

Until next time,

Sam Manuel 

East Bay Lead Minister

Sam Manuel

Sam Manuel

Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.

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