Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kevin "Chappy" Hynes, the chaplain for the University of Georgia football team, to discuss his ministry. As should have been apparent from the first part of our interview, Chappy is outgoing and forthright when discussing the ways in which he feels called by God to serve.
I asked Chappy about the collegiate chaplain program and this is what he said:
So, then, I came on board in '01. Since then, there's been a lot that have come on board. Everybody's ministry looks different. We get together every year and share ideas. We get together at conferences. We get together at the A.F.C.A. conference and then we try to have our own deal in the summer just to compare notes and just to see what other people are doing. Methods change. Our message at Georgia doesn't change, and that's to preach Christ and Him crucified, it's to win championships for the state of Georgia and win souls for the Kingdom of God, so we're going to continue down that path.
At Georgia, I simplify it down and people are going to get tired of reading it or seeing it or hearing about it, but I simplify it down. What do I do as a chaplain? I do Bible studies. I do devotionals. I do discipleships one-on-one with players. Any time there's a surgery at the hospital, an injury, anything, I'm there. I just went to Cancun and married Adam Johnson, a former player. David Pollack, Russ Tanner, Will Witherspoon, Lee Jackson. So I've done weddings. I've done a funeral for a player's baby. I spoke at Michael Lemon's mother's funeral, so I've done those sort of things.
I am not the church. I work alongside the local church. I try to get these guys plugged in to church, but I don't do the ordinances, the Lord's Supper, the baptism. Other than that, I'm an ordained minister.
People ask me, "What do you do as a chaplain?" I tell them all that stuff, but, then, really, when you get down to it, I love these players and coaches. I've got a vast background. I've done things that weren't good, I've done things that were good, I've been around. I haven't done everything, but I've done a lot.
So I just love these kids. Let's break down "love." What is love? It's an action. It's a verb. I'm a servant. I listen to them. The first thing I do if a player or a coach comes in is I sit down, here or in their office, and I just sit there and listen. The next thing I do is I open the Word of God and I say, "O.K., I'm going to offer them Biblical teaching with a Christian world view. Well, here's what the Bible says about that."
There are two world views, one that's Christian, one that is Biblical, and one that's not, and I share the Christian world view with these guys. So I listen to them, I offer them Biblical teaching with a Christian world view. The next thing that I do is I value them. I value all of these young men as people. Not as numbers, but as names. I know their names and I value them. You know, we tell their parents we're going to love them when they come here and we do that. Coach Richt does. I love them and we're just going to invest in their lives and value them as people.
Everyone has value to God. That doesn't mean everybody is born again. That doesn't mean everybody has received Christ. That doesn't mean everybody is going to go to Heaven. But it does mean that God values every human being. We're all made in the image and likeness of God. But to be a child of God, you've got to receive what Christ did on the Cross of Calvary. You've got to understand the Gospel. You've got to see your need for a Savior and receive that.
So I value them as people and the last thing I do is I encourage, I edify, I build up. I'm around them, a cheerleader. I'm just there all the time, just to encourage them, and I tell people those that come to Georgia that are not Christians and allow me to speak in their lives, I encourage them to walk with Jesus. Everything I do is voluntary, but I encourage them to repent, turn from their sin, and turn to Jesus.
Those that come here that are Christians or were raised in church and they would claim that they're Christians, I encourage them to get in church. I encourage them to continue to walk with Jesus. I encourage them to continue to fight the good fight. I encourage them to get into Bible study. I encourage them to get in the Word. I encourage them to memorize Scripture. I encourage them in their faith.
So, whether you're a Christian or not, I'm going to encourage you. That's what I do. I love these players and coaches, man.
Finally, I asked Chappy about Mark Richt's faith. Coach Richt has been very frank and open about his Christianity, discussing his salvation in interviews and acknowledging the practical role his beliefs play in his daily decisionmaking. As this is one of the things I most admire about Coach Richt, I wanted to get Chappy's thoughts upon the subject. Here is what he told me:
Everybody knows I'm his brother-in-law, so I've known him before he became a head coach, I've known him after he was a head coach. He's here to glorify God. No strings attached. No punches pulled. He is here to bring glory to his Father. Is he perfect? No.
You know, somebody asked me the other day if he was competitive, 'cause I guess they see him on the sidelines. I'm like, "Are you kidding me?" You don't become the head coach at the University of Georgia if you're not competitive. Don't take meekness for weakness. Don't take humility for passivity or good sportsmanship for not being competitive. And please don't take not cheating or not selling out for football as not being competitive or crossing all your T's and dotting all your I's for not being competitive.
We're being competitive and he's being competitive not with man, a benchmark or a bar set by man, but by God. So everything he does, he tries to pray about everything. He's a Christian first and foremost, but he really is a guy that's seeking to please his Father and do the will of God, and you can see that in everything he does.
I know the guy and he's a phenomenal coach, he's a phenomenal husband, phenomenal dad. He really is a great guy, but he always tells me, "Chap, don't validate me. Don't brag on me, because Satan would love to take me down." So I bathe him in prayer. I bathe all the coaches and players in prayer.
What you see is what you get. He's the real deal. He is absolutely real and I love him. I love being around him. I think he's different. I think he's blessed. I think God's got His hand on him.
He loves being the coach at Georgia. He's not going anywhere else unless they, you know, can him, but he loves Georgia. He loves the people, he loves the players, he loves the atmosphere, and he's not looking to move. He's not looking to go anywhere. He believes God brought him here and that's where he's going to stay.
I am grateful to Kevin Hynes for permitting me the opportunity to speak with him about his work and to provide some small amount of publicity for the efforts of Team United.
There are many ways to get involved in helping Athletes in Action, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Georgia Athletes Outreach to fulfill their mission. Anyone who is interested in contributing to the cause may send donations to:
Post Office Box 7476
Athens, Georgia 30604