My name is Dylan Haynes, and I’m a part of New Life Community Church (Manchester Foursquare Church) in Manchester, N.H. My dad, Robert Haynes, is the senior pastor. I graduated from Memorial High School in June, and my goal is to go to college and become a physical education teacher and coach.
In September 2009, we started a father/son basketball outreach. This actually started because of my love for basketball and the relationship I have with my dad. Sports have been a huge part of our lives. My dad has been such a huge influence in my life. My friends love to talk with both of my parents about life issues.
When I asked my dad if we could start a Tuesday night basketball outreach to my friends, I really did not think it would take off. I thought we would just have 6 to 10 people and have fun. But God had other plans. Around 25 on average ended up coming.
We invited people from our church. Will Velez and Sam Eames were two who faithfully came. Will even invited some of his neighbors. He told me that he has had teenagers come to him at work and say, “Hey, man, weren’t you at the church basketball thing?” And he has had the opportunity to speak into the lives of high school kids. Five of my friends came to church from the basketball outreach.
My church has impacted me by being real to me and to my friends who don’t know Jesus as their savior. It is people like Will, Sam, Dave Mason and my dad who show Christianity “with skin on” and that they care, without judging people. I thank my dad and the leadership at the church for thinking outside the box in reaching teens who might not have an opportunity if we had not started this ministry.
Last spring, two of the guys who started attending the outreach came to my house, really upset and wanting prayer from my dad concerning some serious family issues. Neither of them have a father figure in their lives.
One of my friends thanked us for being there for him. The windows of his car had been broken out, and my dad and I helped him get it fixed for around $200. His mom thanked me for being there for her son and for my dad’s willingness to help him out.
One of the coolest things about this ministry is the diversity in nationalities that come. We have guys come who are from Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Bosnia, Puerto Rico and more. We have had some very interesting conversations about Jesus.
I feel so privileged to share my dad with friends who don’t have a dad. When my dad was in Iraq for 15 months from 2004-2005, it was my basketball coach, Steve Edmand, who spoke into my life and helped me stay on track. He is a Christian. His impact on my life when I needed a positive mentor sparked in me the desire to be that for others.
I want to go to college and become a physical education teacher and coach, ministering the gospel in practical ways of showing how much Jesus cares for others.
As far as the future ministry of the father/son basketball outreach, I plan to continue this as long as we have access to a gym. My church currently meets in a Christian school, and they have a gym that we use. I have a heart for teens and want them to live a life that is healthy, both physically and spiritually.