Home > Events > March 25th Locking Arms Assemblies Reach Over 800 Students

We had a powerful day in Johnstown and Somerset County recently doing four school assembly programs and an evening Fellowship of Christian Athletes outreach in Berlin. We presented to approximately 800 young people challenging their thinking on many topics including: serving others, sexual purity, binge drinking, and empathy. I began the day with a high school assembly at Conemaugh Valley High School in Johnstown speaking to approximately 300 students. We had the privilege of praying with a small group of students before the program who were eager to give their blessing to our message. I talked about my past living out of a false self that I projected to my teammates and classmates. I wore different masks to gain the approval of friends much like the actors in a play would do centuries ago. My binge drinking was a mask I put on to hide the deep emptiness in my life and the pain of my parents imminent divorce. I stressed the importance of living from our authentic self that can only be discovered by the love of God with the help of teachers, coaches, friends and family who support that identity. I then headed to Richland Elementary School for an assembly with about 120 young children. What a blessing it was to get them laughing at a football story from my Penn State experience and relate some life lessons, emphasizing again in my message: drawing in classmates who need acceptance, service to others, and empathy.

I joined Lydell Sargeant at Shanksville High School where he challenged students to set goals that included excellence in their academic work, extra-curricular involvement and to be inclusive of all students. He shared the story of a young classmate from Gateway High School in Pittsburgh who was not popular that Lydell embraced. It just so happens that he became the richest graduate ever in school history and credits Lydell for being a real friend when he could find very few. He has flown Lydell in his private jet on vacation with him in past years to thank him! Our next stop was an afternoon assembly where my son, Stefen, joined Lydell and I at Berlin High School. Our host there was our good friend, Head Football Coach, Doug Paul. I played the role of interviewer with Lydell and Stefen at an assembly of approximately 300 students hitting many topics including their faith journey in the NFL. We took many questions from students who were eager to hear about their experiences and their counter-culture values. We put a hurting on a nice Italian buffet in Berlin with Coach Paul, his son and Pastor Tom Sprowls.

The Berlin Church of the Brethren, Tom’s church, sponsored our evening FCA outreach where we utilized the same interview format with our audience. We had invited students all day to join us in our evening outreach so it was good to see some of them in attendance. Given our venue, we had the green light to go much deeper on all topics including sexual purity, sharing God’s word, and closing with a prayer of commitment. It was a blessing to see all the young people, little boys ages 4-8, teenage girls, and high school men get their pictures with Lydell and Stefen at the closing. It really hit me how important it is for young people to have role models. I could see in their faces how blessed these young people were to hear their stories and celebrate not just their stardom, but their boldness in standing for Christ. I want to offer our great thanks to Dave McCall and Coach Doug Paul who coordinated many of the details to make our day a great blessing. I also want to thank Eric Kornhut from Ameriprise Financial for his hospitality and support to bring us in as well at Pastor Tom Sprowls from Berlin Church of the Brethren for his strong support.

Leo Wisniewski- Director Locking Arms Men