Blessings abundant in Shelby County

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tim Smith believes in the power of prayer.

When the Cornerstone coach first came to the school seven years ago, there wasn’t much for an athletic program.

There was no equipment, no uniforms, no teams – except for a fledgling basketball program.

Within a few years, there was a full slate of varsity athletics for boys and girls, with fields and uniforms to accommodate each of them – except basketball.

With limited resources, a home gymnasium just wasn’t in the cards for the kids at Cornerstone Christian School.

So the boys and girls varsity squads hit the road for every game.

They practiced when and where they could, sometimes in the parking lot and sometimes, when the weather wasn’t so good, in a borrowed gymnasium.

Playing every game on the road for five years can take its toll on a basketball team, but the kids continued to get on the bus, continued to take the floor first and watch as their opponents got more emphatic introductions.

The Chargers didn’t complain, just kept on playing and started praying.

Meanwhile, members of Bethel Baptist Church, which started the Christian school in Columbiana, and others involved with Cornerstone kept working on the logistics of creating a home gym for their home team.

Regularly, Smith would join a player from each, the boys and girls teams, to pray over a dirt spot behind the school.

Gradually, as efforts to build the gymnasium continued, that dirt spot turned into a concrete slab. Then there was a ceiling and walls. Later came bleachers and lights.

Last Friday, Smith stood on the spot at halftime of Cornerstone’s first-ever home game, his feet resting on a freshly polished hardwood floor.

The Charger faithful continue to pray there – prayers of thanks, praise for countless blessings.

Those blessings go far beyond a new basketball court.

While people in Shelby County have the luxury of concerning themselves with matters of sport, half a world away countless thousands are dealing with the destruction caused by tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.

Weeks later, the death toll continues to climb. So too, does the devastation caused by the wall of water and the ensuing chaos.

There are people who are deprived – not of a home court, but of a hometown.

Children have been left without fathers, without mothers, without answers to the questions that linger from the day the ocean turned on them.

The folks at Cornerstone realize how blessed they are.

With what’s happening in other parts of the world, in Shelby County we all should.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at