Beyond the winning scoreboards and championship banners is the ultimate goal for an MBU student-athlete: that each athlete would take the lessons learned on the playing field and translate them into everyday life and ministry.
At the heart of our athletic programs is leadership development through skilled training, godly mentoring, and intercollegiate competition. At MBU, athletics provides the opportunity for students to go, serve, and lead—whether on overseas mission trips or in local churches. Maranatha aims to produce servant-mindedness in student-athletes so that service becomes a way of life. Each team at MBU has its own means of ministering.
Ministry Through Sport
Ministry through sport is evidenced by Maranatha’s athletic teams. The cross country, soccer, baseball, and women’s volleyball teams make a regular practice of singing and teaching in local churches.
In 2010, the men’s soccer team created a traveling ministry team—the Tonal Defenders—to serve churches through music during the off season. The group of college men and coaches has visited over 30 churches in the area and sings periodically in chapel on campus as well.
The football, baseball, soccer, and women’s volleyball teams have used athletics to take the gospel to four different continents. The baseball team traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2011 and 2015, where they conducted clinics and evangelism outreaches. Over 100 salvation decisions were made during the two trips combined.
Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams took a trip to South Africa in 2010, taking advantage of the national excitement generated by the then-upcoming FIFA World Cup. The team used the global language of soccer to connect with churches, orphanages, and a local police force. The team gave a gospel presentation after each game.
The women’s volleyball team has twice partnered with Harvest Ministries in Guam to hold clinics for local teams. As part of the experience, the Sabercats coaches and student-athletes share a gospel message.
Maranatha has 19 NCCAA National Championship banners displayed prominently in the gym, but the victories they represent are only temporal. The impact of the gospel lasts forever.
Athletics Hall of Fame
Regularly, the MBU Athletics Department honors individuals who emulate a ministry mindset by adding them to the MBU Athletics Hall of Fame. During Alumni Weekend 2017, the Athletics Department named Roy Callan (’76) and Marsha Jackson to the Maranatha Athletics Hall of Fame for their dedication to and love of Maranatha athletes and athletic competition.
Roy Callan: a Maranatha Mainstay
Roy Callan can only be described as “versatile,” “committed,” and “dependable.” During his time as a student at Maranatha, Callan became the first student- athlete in Maranatha history to receive 12 varsity letters. Callan participated in men’s soccer, wrestling, and baseball and was captain of each team for at least one season. As a wrestler, Callan took fourth place at the NCCAA National Championships. On the soccer field, he started every game in his four-year tenure. For the baseball team, Callan played four seasons as catcher. Outside the lines, Callan served as a society president, and he met his wife Terrie (Goodell), who graduated with Roy in 1976.
Callan models faithfulness beyond his MBU career. “Coach Callan” has served at Heritage Hall Christian School (Muncie, IN) for 41 years, where he uses his collegiate soccer knowledge from the sideline by coaching varsity soccer. In 36 seasons, he has led the Patriots to seven IACS state championships, while holding a record of 380-118-28. Callan’s other ministry roles include junior high basketball coach, bus driver, youth ministry staff worker, Sunday school teacher, and choir member.
Marsha Jackson: Volleyball and Beyond
At Maranatha, Jackson’s name is unequivocally linked with success on the volleyball court. Jackson still holds a Top-30 ranking in NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball history for winning percentage (a 396-200 record), and she led Maranatha to five NCCAA Division II titles, including one in each of her first four years as head coach.
Jackson hit the ground running at Maranatha and was named the NCCAA DII National Coach of the Year in 1989. Later, Jackson spearheaded success on the NCAA level by procuring two Lake Michigan Conference Championship titles in 1995 and 2005. Jackson was an undeniable figurehead for athletic success while at Maranatha, but she recognizes the paramount importance of ministry.
During her time at Maranatha, Jackson led mission trips to Brazil and Germany and currently serves in the music and visitation ministries at Canon Community Baptist Church in Canon City, Colorado.
God uses multiple mediums for advancing His gospel, and Maranatha is privileged to be a part of training students to use those mediums, including sports, to glorify Him.