Super Bowl champion coach Tony Dungy challenged over 500 people gathered in CIU's Moore Fitness Center gym March 16 to consider if they may represent the older son in Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Dungy, who led the Indianapolis Colts to a 2007 Super Bowl win, was at CIU speaking at a luncheon to benefit the ministry "With Open Eyes," a group that meets the humanitarian needs of Christians in Sudan. In the morning Dungy visited South Carolina prison inmates who are housed just across the Broad River from CIU, including 30 CIU student-inmates who are earning an Associate of Arts degree in the CIU Prison Initiative Program.
While Dungy is best known for his football career, he is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Quiet Strength, and is involved in a wide variety of charitable organizations, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Athletes in Action, Mentors for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Prison Crusade Ministry, and All Pro Dad.
Dungy shared how he became a committed follower of Jesus Christ while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the many opportunities for ministry that have come his way since his fame as a Super Bowl championship coach. Dungy says people tell him he's doing great things, but when it came to ministering recently to NFL quarterback Michael Vick, some people didn't support him. Vick, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, served prison time after pleading guilty for his role in an interstate dog fighting ring.
"I started getting letters saying, 'how could you help him? This guy electrocuted dogs,'" Dungy recalled.
Dungy said that caused him to reflect on whether he should be helping Vick. Until Dungy picked up his Bible.
"But the more I read the Bible that is exactly what God would have us do. Help that person who has made a tremendous mistake, who wants to turn their life around." Dungy said.
That's where the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son comes in. Dungy says that while the older brother was not openly rebellious, he didn't want to accept the homecoming of the younger prodigal.
"Where was he when the younger brother was making those bad decisions?" Dungy asked. "When his younger brother started to be rebellious - did he pull him in and counsel him and keep him on the right track? Or was that older brother really just focused on himself and what he was going to get out of the deal? That's really a great story because it really makes us think where our heart is."
CIU President Bill Jones presented Dungy with a personalized CIU athletic jersey with Dungy's name on the back.
Also at the luncheon, CIU introduced its first athletics director, Kim Abbott, who is currently serving as athletics director at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. The announcement is a major step toward CIU's entry into intercollegiate athletics. For more on Kim Abbott see http://www.ciu.edu/news/newsitem.php?id=505
For more photos from the luncheon see CIU's Flickr page: