West Alabama tackle shares faith in Guatemala

West Alabama tackle shares faith in Guatemala

Hanging from the rearview mirror on his Yukon truck is a gift that changed the direction of Griffin Ricketson’s young life.

It is a cross made of wood from a tree at St. Simons Island, Georgia, where Ricketson became a Christian.

“I will forever hold on to a little piece of a reminder of what God did in my life. It’s something I get to carry with me. The fact that I got saved there has a special place in my heart,” said Ricketson, who was saved on July 4, 2013, during a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp.

Returning the next summer, Ricketson was given the cross by a huddle leader working with high school seniors. Ricketson, a redshirt junior offensive tackle at University of West Alabama (UWA), had another experience where God did something in his life. He recently spent six weeks on a missions trip in Guatemala.

Working with missionaries Joe and Meagan Frye, Ricketson and co-worker Jared Henderson did evangelism in Santa Lucia.

They played basketball and shared the gospel with youth and helped a local youth minister named Jorge, who is also a teacher in an English-speaking school.

They also delivered food, water and clothing to those affected by a volcano eruption June 3. They shared the gospel with each delivery.

New perspective

During times of rest, Ricketson and Henderson read their Bibles and prayed.

“We got closer to God in down times,” said Ricketson.

The trip gave Ricketson, 21, a new perspective on his spiritual life, including being consistent in the Word and in his prayer life.

“The people we worked with are truly Christ followers in every aspect of their lives and spent every second of every day in some way furthering the kingdom of God,” he said. “[The experience] taught me that I should be that way and I should feel that responsibility in my everyday life. I don’t have to go around the world to be a Christian, to share what Jesus has done for us. The Bible says love thy neighbor. We should share with people around us.”

Greater plans

The Bible is teaching Ricketson that God has more for him than he ever thought.

“He has greater plans for me. He has more knowledge that He wants to share with me. There is always going to be room to grow. I need to be willing to grow in my faith and my faithfulness,” said Ricketson.

Dakota Rushing, a senior defensive end for West Alabama, said, “His Guatemala trip strengthened his discipline and obedience to the Lord.”

West Alabama head football coach Brett Gilliland said that Ricketson going on a summer-long missions trip showed his heart.

“He understands what is really important in his life. He is very instrumental in our team Bible study and being an example of his faith to his teammates. He is a young man of impeccable character. His faith is evident by the way he lives his life,” Gilliland said.

Jeremy Davis, minister of youth at First Baptist Church, Pensacola, Florida, where Ricketson is a member, said, “I could tell that he had developed a huge heart for the people in Guatemala.”

While wanting to return one day, he will go anywhere God calls him, he said.

“What Jesus did for us is too good to not put Him at the center of our lives and share with others the gift that He gave us. It is too good of a gift to keep to ourselves,” he said.

Ricketson, who loves to fish, be outdoors, play golf and spend time with friends, wants to continue to focus on his spiritual life.

“Living the Christian life is a blessing to what God has done for us. God’s purpose is to be where my feet are, to remain faithful as a follower of Christ and be obedient where He has placed me at UWA,” he said. “I feel like He has great plans for me down the road.”