Last Wednesday, May 16, my son, Thomas, and I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Kevin "Chappy" Hynes and his son, Elijah.
Chappy is the ordained minister who serves as the chaplain for the University of Georgia football team. He is married to Mark Richt's sister, Mikki, and he arrived in Athens with Coach Richt in 2001.
I first became aware of Chappy's work through his report to the A.F.C.A. in January. From his office at the corner of Milledge Avenue and Springdale Street, he and the rest of the staff of Team United coordinate the unified efforts of Athletes in Action, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Georgia Athletes Outreach, which now work together to further the spiritual growth of student-athletes who have responded voluntarily to the invitation to make the Lord a part of their lives.
I contacted Chappy earlier this year and asked if I could interview him about the work that he is doing to spread the Good News of the Gospel. As a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church and a great admirer of Coach Richt for his Christian faith, I wanted to do what I could to publicize Chappy's service. He was receptive to my request, but, instead of replying to written interview questions, he preferred to meet face to face.
When we were attempting to work out a time for us to sit down together, Chappy asked me during a telephone conversation whether I was married and had children. I told him I was married and had a four-year-old son. He replied that he had a son who was six years old and suggested that I bring Thomas over to Athens for a tour of the football facilities, during which our sons could play together and we could talk.
Naturally, I leapt at the opportunity. Chappy was a gracious host, guiding us through the lower floors of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall and showing Thomas and me the coaches' offices, the team meeting room, the locker room, the weight room, and the practice field. We were unable to meet Coach Richt because he was out of town on the 2007 Dawg Days Tour at the time, but we got to go into Coach Richt's office and we met tight ends coach David Johnson and strength and conditioning coach Dave Van Halanger.
I was spending the day in my favorite place (Athens) with my favorite person (Thomas), so I was in no hurry, which was a good thing, because Chappy knows everybody and he takes the time to speak to everyone. No matter who crossed his path, Chappy had a moment for everyone from coaches to complete strangers.
He was equally outgoing and forthright in offering his testimony when we sat down together, so much so that my questions served mostly as mere prompts that got him talking about his faith and the works to which his faith has led him, in accordance with James 2:20.
I have divided his responses into two parts, the second portion of which will appear later in the week. Here is Kevin Hynes's story in his own words:
I was not raised a believer. I was into partying. I loved the Marine Corps, still love the Marine Corps, but I struggled with drinking. I got promoted, never got busted, got out an E-4 corporal. People ask me all the time, "If you loved it so much, why didn't you stay in?" Well, alcohol had me and they knew it and I knew it and they were willing to help me, but I didn't want help. I got out, bought a Harley, went crazy, let my beard grow and just started doing some other things.
Anyway, on August 8 of '89, my grandmother died. That was my mother's mother. I hadn't seen my mother in five years and I really didn't like my mother. Anyway, she came to the funeral and, after the funeral was over, she told me these words: "Kevin, I've loved you since I carried you in my womb. I'm sorry that our lives have turned out this way, but, if you'd come to Florida, I'd love to reconcile this thing."
I was 24 years old. I went to Tallahassee, Florida, got there September 1 of 1989. I had a 1965 Chrevrolet pickup and a 1974 Harley Davidson. I began to reconcile with my mom and I got invited to church. She sang Sweet Adelines. Her husband sang barbershop quartet. They were doing barbershop at her house and singing and some guy just asked me if I knew the Lord and he invited me to church.
I went to church and I heard the Gospel. I just heard that I was a sinner separated from God because of my sin, so I began to go back to the church and it was a Thursday afternoon, October 16 of '89, I rolled into the pastor's study about 4:00 that afternoon in tears and sobbing. I received Christ as my Lord and that's my story. That's my testimony.
From there, the state attorney in Florida, Willie Megs, was there and he just loved the Lord. He took me in like a son. He was like, "Man, you'd be a great cop" and I was like, "Well, I don't know about that. I don't even like cops." Anyway, I went to the academy and graduated from the academy and Polk County hired me. Polk County Sheriff's Office, which is right between Tampa and Orlando on I-4 and Highway 27. So I became a deputy sheriff in Florida. Did that about 18 months. Didn't really like it.
I had just become a Christian. About a year later, I became a deputy and just didn't really handle the stress as well as I wanted to. I was dealing with grandfathers molesting grandkids, sons stabbing their mothers, and brothers killing each other. It was just crazy, so I quit being a deputy and I went trucking. I trucked 'til about '95, then my mother came down with cancer, so I moved back to Tallahassee. My mother died September 1 of '95, six years to the day after I moved to Tallahassee. It was just a beautiful relationship we had. We reconciled. I loved my mom. My mom loved me.
She always begged me to go to school. I started at Tallahassee Community College and, during that summer of '95, I became a deputy sheriff in Leon County just to keep my standards current. So I worked part-time as a deputy, then I would drive a truck for the summer and then I started school in August. Well, for the next two years of school, I was working part-time as a deputy. Every Friday night, I had a run in a truck from Quincy, Florida, to Macon, Georgia, and back for RPS. So I got my copping and my trucking in my blood and I got to really satisfy both and then I was going to school.
I graduated school with an A.A. degree in criminal justice and went full-time with the Leon County Sheriff's Office about a year. I was like, "This ain't what I want to do the rest of my life. I want to be in the ministry." So I went to Florida Baptist Theological College in Graceville, Florida. I was out in Graceville about two years, three semesters, and we got pregnant with Elijah, so I had to go get a job, so I went back into law enforcement in the Havana Police Department. It's a bedroom community outside of Tallahassee. I loved it. I loved my chief. I still talk to him on a weekly basis.
That was in 2000. In 2001, Coach Richt got a job here at Georgia and we'd always talked about, when I was going to Florida Baptist, I wanted to be in the ministry, but I didn't want to be a pastor and he talked to me about being a chaplain. So, when he got up here, I became his chaplain. So I've been here since May 21 of '01.
I don't believe in "The Call." I look at it like this, and I don't know if I'm correct or not, but there's a book I've got, it's just a little booklet from John MacArthur and it says, "Found: God's Will." He believes that there are certain things a Christian ought to do and, if he does that and fulfills it, he can do that anywhere. I really felt I was in the ministry as a deputy sheriff. I really did. I was a Christian. I would love on people. I would share the Gospel on the way to the jail. I would share the Gospel in the streets. I knew I was in the ministry.
When I was trucking, I would share the Gospel with waitresses in truck stops, with fuel attendants, so I was in the ministry even as a truck driver, but I knew I wanted to do that for a living. I knew I wanted to be in a full-time Gospel ministry because I just figured it might get me closer to God. I'm bold in my witness, so I figured, "Hey, here's a great place to be, in the ministry."
God calls people to repent and to salvation, and I believe, when a young man is called to salvation or a young woman is called to salvation, then they're as much a minister of the Gospel of Christ as I am. I just get paid to do it. So I could do anything in the world, I believe, and still preach the Gospel.
I believe, if you're born again, if you truly love the Lord and you've repented and you've received Christ and what He did on Calvary's Cross, I believe you're as much in the ministry as a lawyer, doctor, or pastor. I do. Once you're in the body of Christ, then I believe you're a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think we all have a responsibility to share the Gospel, share the Good News.
To be continued. . . .