Johnny Evans comes home for church anniversary
While Johnny Evans is best-known in High Point for his football story, it’s his faith story that brings him back to his hometown this weekend.
Evans, a football phenom at T. Wingate Andrews High School in the early 1970s — who went on to star at North Carolina State University and then play a few seasons with the Cleveland Browns — will be the featured speaker during the Sunday morning worship service at Oak Hill Friends Meeting.
The church, which is celebrating its 105th anniversary Sunday, invited Evans — one of the city’s favorite sons — to be the guest speaker.
Evans, who is also known as a radio sportscaster for the N.C. State football team, serves as the Eastern North Carolina director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization he has worked for nearly 20 years.
For Evans, football and faith always went hand in hand.
“I’m convinced a Christian is someone who places their trust in Christ during good times and bad times,” he said during a telephone interview from Raleigh.
“And when you’re playing football, as crazy as it gets — wins, losses, injuries — faith always reminded me there’s a bigger picture involved, and it helped me to keep things in perspective. A win was never the greatest thing in the world, and a loss was never the worst thing in the world. It was living by faith, and that would also apply to my business career, my family life, every area of my life.”
Evans, 57, became a Christian in the summer of 1972, between his sophomore and junior years at Andrews. A coach invited him to attend a weeklong summer conference for FCA, and the event changed his life, he says.
“It was there that I really responded to the Gospel,” Evans recalled. “I gave my life to Christ and put my trust in him.”
When he returned to Andrews for his junior year, the school didn’t have a “huddle” — the name given to FCA organizations at individual schools — so he and teammate John Gregory formed a huddle there. He did the same thing when he arrived at N.C. State, joining with a small group of other student-athletes to form a huddle on campus.
As the FCA’s Eastern North Carolina director, Evans supervises a staff of about 20 employees who work with college, high-school and middle-school students in the eastern part of the state.
“The number of active huddles in schools is at the highest level ever in FCA’s 60-year history,” he said. “The number of student-athletes participating is up, and the number of student-athletes attending summer camps is up. We’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing in student-athletes today.”
Evans and his wife, Beth, also lead a coed community Bible study in Raleigh that attracts more than 800 people.
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Johnny Evans will be the featured speaker during the 10:45 a.m. worship service Sunday at Oak Hill Friends Meeting, 2001 Westchester Drive.
The service, which will commemorate the church’s 105th anniversary, will be followed by a covered dish luncheon.