By Trent Fennell
Christian Oliver, a Barton graduate, spoke to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, (FCA) earlier this month. Twenty-seven people gathered in the Bulldog Club Room to hear Oliver give his testimony.
Oliver, from Gordonsville, Va., a small town near Charlottesville, is a youth pastor at Daystar Worship Center and an evangelist.
Oliver said he attended Barton and played on the baseball team from 2008-2012 as a right-handed pitcher.
While growing up in Gordonsville, Oliver said he always attended church. That changed when he decided to attend Barton.
Just before enrolling at Barton, Oliver said he had never drank alcohol or done any drugs. His grandfather was a pastor and he basically grew up in the church.
“As soon as I got to college, about three days in, I found myself at a fraternity party acting a fool,” he said. “From there it all went downhill and I lost most connections and relationship with Jesus.”
According to Oliver, he lived in the baseball house as a sophomore and things became worse. “I drank more than I did freshman year and even started smoking spice,” he said. “At this point, I had no relationship with God. I was completely separated from him and wanted nothing to do with him.”
Oliver said he had his own apartment his junior year and things became even worse. “I began drinking heavy alcohol and was so miserable in my life that I would turn to anything to get a high,” he said.
During Oliver’s senior year everything seemed steady, still in a bad way.
“All of a sudden one day this fright and terror came over my life, I could not think straight, comprehend nor focus,” he said. “I had no appetite, my life was struck with a mixture of anxiety and depression.”
According to Oliver, these symptoms were all due to a concussion during baseball practice.
“I remember one day laying in my bedroom and looking in my closet and wondering how or if I could hang myself,” he said.
Oliver said his life was at the lowest of lows when he encountered a teammate in the locker room. “That teammate was a freshman and he came up to me and told me he was praying for me,” he said.
According to Oliver, he somewhat ignored the teammate and continued living the lifestyle he had been living since freshman year.
“A few weeks later I was at Buffalo Wild Wings and my girlfriend at the time worked there and was giving me free alcohol. I ended up getting kicked out of the bar,” he said. “I drove back to campus and hit a curb and blew two of my tires. I luckily rolled into the Wenger parking lot and walked back to my dorm.
“The next day at practice the same teammate came up to me and told me he was up late last night praying for me, and that I was really on his heart,” he said. “In that moment I knew it was real. That night me and my teammate sat in my dorm room and read scripture.”
Oliver said his teammate took him to church soon after and since then his life has not been the same. “I’m on fire for God, his fire came alive inside of me,” he said. “There was nothing more than I wanted or want than him.”
Ricky Jernigan, a senior baseball player, and leader of the FCA, had a positive reaction to Oliver’s testimony.
“It was a really good talk and it was cool to see how he turned his life around since his time at Barton, especially as deep as he was in sin,” he said. “I think a lot of people took something away from it. Overall, it was a pleasure having him.”
Ben Brann, a junior baseball player, who plays guitar and leads worship for the FCA, also had a positive reaction to Oliver’s testimony.
“Every testimony and every road to Christ is different, that is what makes it all interesting,” he said. “Hearing from someone who not only went to college, but this college, and faced similar temptations we do, made it refreshing.”