The locker room scene was odd, especially following a victory. Players hugged, cried, and said goodbye to Heidi Fletcher.
The sophomore guard from Riverdale, MI, had packed her belongings for the Dec. 17 trip to Grand Rapids, MI, where Maranatha’s women’s basketball team was to play Grace Bible College. When the bus drove away from Watertown, only a box of Fletcher’s textbooks remained in Gould Hall. She had run out of money and planned not to return for the second semester. It appeared the game against Grace would be her last.
“When I came to school in the fall, I knew there wasn’t enough money for more than one semester,” Fletcher said. “I prayed every night. When the money didn’t come in, I just accepted that God didn’t want me in college for the second semester.”
Fletcher played 12 minutes that night, scoring 4 points in a 69-59 Crusaders victory. The tearful parting with teammates followed.
“That was tough,” Fletcher said.
During the Christmas break, she explained her situation to Dennis Williams, pastor of Marion Baptist Church in Marion, MI. Fletcher had spent the last two years working in children’s ministries at the church. Williams said church members’ ability to help would likely be limited because of a building project.
“I was sad about not going back, but I was at peace,” Fletcher said. “The verse that kept coming back to me was, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ “
Fletcher had started searching for a job when, just days before the second semester was to begin, her phone rang.
Williams said several church members donated to help Fletcher return to college.
“She has a real servant’s heart, and we have generous people who have a heart for giving,” Williams said. “Some credit needs to go to pastor Gene Haymaker at Maranatha Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, her home church. He raises young people with a real heart for ministry. Heidi has done an excellent job working with our kids and even doing little things like helping clean up after a pot luck supper. I know she’ll use what she learns at college in a lifetime of ministry.”
The human source of the down payment may have been church members, but Fletcher said she knows God was the true source.
“Now I wonder why I worried about it at all,” Fletcher said, “because I’ve seen how God works before.”
One year earlier, Fletcher had been $250 short of her required payment schedule before final exams. When she returned to Michigan for a funeral, a church member handed her a check for $200. The day after Fletcher dropped her last $5 in the offering plate as it was passed during church, another student in Gould Hall gave her $50.
When the second semester of her freshman year arrived and Fletcher again found herself short of funds, she told her sister Holly about the situation. Holly, a National Guard soldier stationed in Kuwait, provided the down payment.
Losing Fletcher would have had a negative impact on the current basketball team’s depth. She has played in all 24 regular-season games through Feb. 20, averaging 10.2 minutes per game. Starting guard Autumn Peotter said she was glad to hear Fletcher would be around to give her an occasional rest during the second half of the season.
“Autumn told me, ‘I was scared I might never come out of a game again,’ ” Fletcher said.
More importantly, Fletcher was able to stay on track academically. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in humanities/applied science. Fletcher’s career goal is to become a personal trainer and health advisor for pregnant women with a special ministry focus toward unwed and teen mothers.
“Our job is not to worry,” Fletcher said. “Our job is to have faith and trust God.”