Strecker forges faith with sport
Monday, August 5, 2013
By Mark McGee
Strecker forges faith with sport

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Oliver Strecker is an enthusiastic student of numbers on a ledger page, but he is equally as enthused about helping guide people to the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ and adding them to the only ledger page that really counts.

This academic year Strecker, a former member of the Lipscomb tennis team, will be working to complete his Master's in Accountancy (MAcc) as well as working as a graduate assistant for Brent High, associate athletic director for spiritual formation.

“I feel like this is my calling right now,” Strecker said. “I am very, very blessed that I still can work in ministry which I love. I have a big heart for ministry.”

This past spring Strecker joined with Farron Sutherland and Jonathan LaDoge from campus ministry to conduct “house” church gatherings in Sewell Hall, a men’s dormitory.

“We wanted to connect with people who are disconnected,” Strecker said. “We wanted to bring them in and connect them with other people who can help them.”

Strecker, a native of Gemmingen, Germany, started his tennis career at Auburn University. He transferred to Lipscomb for the 2010-2011 season.

“I played on a Sweet 16 team at Auburn,” Strecker said. “We played against a high level of competition every weekend.”

Strecker enjoyed playing at Auburn and thought he grew in many ways there, but he couldn’t afford the difference between his scholarship money and the costs he had to pay out of pocket.

One of Strecker’s roommates at Auburn knew then Bisons tennis coach Andrew Harris.

“I never visited the campus,” Strecker said. “I had no idea where Nashville was.  I had never heard of Lipscomb, but I saw pictures of it on the website.”

Strecker can’t explain why he was drawn to the school.

“The Christian environment here is very nice,” Strecker said. “After coming here it took a while to realize that people actually are that nice and people actually care about you and want the best for you.”

Strecker has always called himself a Christian, but he realized after spending time at Lipscomb he wasn’t living that kind of life.

“I despise some of the things I did,” Strecker said. “I know where those things came from.

“Looking back it was a process of God catching me and drawing me in. I was always interested. I just never had the opportunity or the drive then to study because I had other things set in front of me. That is not an excuse. I don’t want to sugar coat it.”

Lipscomb was there for Strecker when he needed to confirm a new direction in his life.

“God gave me great Bible teachers, great Bible classes and great friends,” Strecker said. “My friends surrounded me and protected me.

“I have learned a lot about the Bible, God and Jesus. If you phrase the right things in the right way this school can do great things for you. It is a matter of God giving you wisdom to embrace that.”

Strecker will work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, fundraising and connecting with people on a spiritual level.

“I want to create an environment where people can grow towards God and be accepted the way they are,” Strecker said. “I want people to find comfort.

“As an athlete you can wear out in season. School may not be going the way you want. We want to be there to help. It is not going to be easy.”

Strecker wants to create small groups which may include one sport or a mixture of sports. He wants a mixture of all classes as well.

“I want three or four small groups who catch people…who are caring and who love God and want to do these things,” Strecker said. “I want them to look out for other people. I want there to be three or four people that others can trust and be able to talk about their lives.

“When we started the house church each person went out and brought back one more person. We grew from seven people to more than 20.”

Strecker stressed that he is willing to put himself in a situation where he might be rejected. He knows that there is also the possibility that he will have a positive influence on many student-athletes who are looking for answers.

“I’m not going to pretend I am perfect, because I am absolutely not,” Strecker. “I have never been and never will be.

“I am going out with that attitude and going out with grace…loving people because we are loved and we can love well. I believe in this. I know it can work.”

Strecker admits he never envisioned being active in ministry work. He constantly studies the Bible and related books.

“I would have never seen myself doing this,” Strecker said. “I have become alienated to the environment to which I once belonged.

“God stepped in and told me, `I have something better for you’. There is a peace you have about these things. It is just going to get better.”

Strecker was baptized in the fall of 2012 at Granny White Church of Christ in response to a message in Athletes’ Chapel. High, who performed the baptism, thinks that Strecker’s involvement in outreach events on campus will help him make a great impact on his fellow students.

“Oliver has a passion for involving, encouraging and discipling his fellow students,” High said. “He listens well and thrives in small group settings. Having him involved in a leadership role will greatly enhance our ability to connect with our student-athletes on a personal and spiritual level."