A version of this article originally appeared in the spring 2015 issue of HPU’s Link magazine.
BROWNWOOD – May 15, 2015 – During his freshman year at Howard Payne University, Xavier McFalls stood before his football teammates and told them something that perhaps few young men have the courage to say to one another.
“I told them I love them and God loves them,” he said. “It was definitely intimidating. My knees were shaking, but I think it was important for them to hear that.”
McFalls was a fairly new Christian at the time but felt God encouraging him to speak out about his new-found faith. Now a senior, he continues to answer the call by leading the athlete discipleship ministry through HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry.
McFalls gets to know student-athletes from all sports and helps them get involved in Bible studies, worship services and other various events on campus. He also leads devotionals and helps disciple younger players to become spiritual leaders on their teams.
“I help them learn how to play as Christian athletes and how to ask themselves if they’re glorifying God through their actions,” he said.
Discipleship is important to McFalls, as he spent a lot of time around godly mentors in his hometown of Amarillo. These individuals helped him see the importance of surrounding himself with good Christian influences.
“I wanted to know more and more about God and I wanted to go to a Christian university,” he said.
He learned about HPU through recruiting letters from the football program and scheduled a campus visit.
“It felt like home,” he said. “I knew that I belonged here.”
He entered the university in the fall of 2012 as an exercise and sport science major. That semester, through the encouragement of Christian influences at HPU, he made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ during Encounter Week, the university’s fall revival.
He sought new ways to grow in his service to Christ. At HPU, McFalls is involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is an intern with the college ministry at Brownwood’s Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. He also regularly hosts a Bible study in his apartment on campus.
McFalls has had the opportunity to participate in several mission trips during his time at HPU. For the past two years during Spring Break, he has traveled with a team from HPU to take part in the annual Beach Reach ministry at South Padre Island. He has also participated in two mission trips through Texas Baptists’ Go Now Missions and recently traveled to Alaska for a mission experience with his church.
Keith Platte, director of HPU’s BSM, has known McFalls for two years.
“Xavier is one of the leading examples on campus of how to be a follower of Jesus,” Platte said. “He has a fervor for service, a burden for those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ and a willing attitude.”
Though the idea of being so outspoken among his peers was originally daunting, McFalls said he’s had a good response.
“They respect me because I understand them,” he said. “I spend time with them, live life with them and love them where they are in their lives.”
Platte said that McFalls is a good example to other believers because of his authenticity and faithfulness.
“When he is asked to share his faith, he makes no excuses,” Platte said. “He does it because he sees the need, and because God calls him to obedience in that.”
Photo cutline: HPU student-athlete Xavier McFalls is pictured on the HPU campus.