Written by Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School

As the clock struck midnight and the ball dropped, many of us entered 2019 with hope and excitement. I am sure that important resolutions were made for the year ahead – focusing on physical & spiritual health, being more intentional with family time, or learning a new skill. I am looking forward to the blessings of 2019 for many reasons, but something, in particular, leaves me with a renewed sense of optimism.

Over the Christmas break, TFA hosted The City Beautiful Invitational, a 16-team boys’ varsity basketball tournament. At its inception, this event was meant to be so much more than a basketball tournament. Great basketball, tight competition, and playing in an amazing facility are all great, but the main thing – the most important thing – is displaying and sharing the love of Christ throughout the event. Our coaches, players, and staff involved with the tournament do this in so many ways. They act as the hands and feet of Jesus as they welcome the student-athletes from all over Florida, and some from out-of-state, to The First Academy.

The most important part of the tournament is the day that we host a luncheon for the 350 players, coaches, and staff who participate in the event. This year, we asked Jonathan Isaac, Forward for the Orlando Magic, to share his testimony with everyone in attendance. Keith Tower, former NBA player and pastor at Highpoint Church, presented the Gospel following Isaac’s powerful video testimony. What happened next was amazing. As Keith asked the group to bow their heads and raise their hands if they were interested in dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ, an overwhelming number of hands slowly went up. As Keith began leading them in the sinner’s prayer, the voices of the young men could be heard throughout the room. It was a sound those in attendance will never forget.

On that day, December 20, 2018, those athletes were making resolutions of their own. They were closing out 2018 and beginning 2019 as new creations like Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17. They were resolving in their hearts to focus on the cross and dedicate their lives to Him. Moments like this are why we do what we do at TFA. As you’ve seen in several publications I’ve shared this year, our number one purpose is connecting students and families to Jesus – that’s exactly what The City Beautiful Invitational did this year!