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Ouachita Stories


Ouachita Tigers Basketball Camp makes an impact in Wyoming

November 06, 2018 - Garry Crowder

I believe God often uses sports as an avenue for people to share the gospel of Christ. We see this through great organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It was through this platform that God planted the idea in me for “Ouachita Tigers Basketball Camp for Christ” to aid in church planting in Wyoming. This youth basketball camp was organized to combine learning sports skills with God’s word, and it became a reality through the partnership of former Ouachita Tiger student-athlete Zach Edwards.

Zach graduated from Ouachita in 2003 and was a member of the Tiger football team. But it wasn’t until he was working as a girls’ basketball coach at Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington, Texas, that we became good friends. Zach and I would often visit by phone to share coaching ideas. He also would attend our “Lady Tiger Team Camp” each summer in June.

Zach earned a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009 and later completed his Doctor of Ministry degree from Gateway Seminary in 2017. In 2013, God called Zach to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he planted Life Point Church. In 2015, Zach was called to become a church planting catalyst for the North American Mission Board and Wyoming Southern Baptists. Zach; his wife, Amber; and their two children, Taryn and Ryan, currently reside in Casper.

Wyoming is the least populated state in our country. The “Cowboy State” is known for its beautiful landscape with small communities spread miles apart. Very few of these towns have an evangelical church.

God has given Zach the tall task to lead the way for church planting in this state. As a means to reach more people, God led our family to partner with Zach on a mission trip to offer a basketball camp in Wyoming communities. The idea would not only allow the good news of Christ to be brought to young campers but also to ignite adult relationships with the parents and church planters.

In June of 2017, I traveled with my wife, Joan, and our son, Preston, to Gillette, Wyoming, to hold our first camp. We held a two-day camp on the campus of Antelope Baptist Church, which had folded. Don Sullivan, a church planter from Montana, had the assignment of restarting a church using the same campus and facilities. Not only were we able to share Christ with our elementary and middle school campers, but also Don was able to meet the parents of those children. These relationships would later help Don and his staff as they began to establish Redemption Church on those grounds.

Crowder basketball

After the two days in Gillette, we also traveled across the state to Lander, a community located on an Indian reservation in central Wyoming. This was a very challenging experience with cultural differences. However, we did see God at work when one elementary student accepted Christ during our devotional time.

This past summer, God again led us back to Gillette for our second year of “Ouachita Tigers Basketball Camp for Christ” with elementary and middle school students. It was great to see the progress at Redemption Church, which had launched in January of 2018 with Don Sullivan as pastor. We attended their Sunday morning services before starting a four-day camp that afternoon. It was fun to see the growth made during one year, and especially satisfying to know God had used these basketball camps in a small way.

With God’s guidance, we plan to return again next summer. As eager as we are to see the improvements in basketball skills from year to year, the spiritual impact on the lives of those we meet in Wyoming is the true reward.


Garry CrowderBy Garry Crowder, head women’s basketball coach