By Portia Williams
Their labor was not in vain. Three Otway pastors — Jonathan King, Brad Harris, and Matt Phipps, with the team name of ‘Bible Belt,’ recently competed in the Game Show Network (GSN) “American Bible Challenge” hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and Grammy Award winning gospel music artist Kirk Franklin. King, Harris, and Phipps defeated their opponents brought home the grand prize of $140,000.
King said there was much pressure involved in participating in the American Bible Challenge.
“There are 18 teams that compete that are from all over the United States. The teams don’t play for money for themselves, all of the proceeds go to the charity, or ministry that you are playing for,” King said. “There was another Ohio team from Akron, was Devoted Divas, and Rhymz of Grace who was from Atlanta, Ga. We learned a lot about how game shows work, it was kind of an eye-opening experience on that.”
He said overall it was a great experience, but he felt the pressure at times of competing for a television audience.
“We really liked Jeff Foxworthy, he was as down-to-earth as they come,” he said. “It was a lot of pressure, a lot of blank thoughts whenever they’d ask you questions that you should not have answered under the pressure with so many people watching, and that much money laying on the line.”
King also said he is glad of the impact that being on the American Bible Challenge can make upon the lives of others
“It is really impacted the study that it has upon my kids, just talking to them, and encouraging them to know scripture is what I love most about. For me, knowing scripture doesn’t work unless you apply it. It has impacted our community, we had watch parties for each one, and there were 15 or more churches represented at those watch parties,” he said.
The Bible Belt represented and played for the non-profit, ‘Kicks For Jesus,’ out of West Union Ohio. Winning the competition brought winnings of $140,00, funds King said they will use to expand the organization, something that is much needed.
“The ministry Kicks For Jesus is currently looking for a location, or locations in Scioto County to start branches there. Kicks for Jesus right now has to have multiple classes each day, and they still have a waiting list evening with the multiple classes at the West Union branch, we have just outgrown it. So, we are looking for a larger location in West Union, and we have been for a while, but it is strictly a donated-based program, so until now we’ve had limited resources in trying to find a location,” he said.
According to King, “American Bible Challenge” is GSN’s primary game show. He said the name of their team is ‘Bible Belts.’ All three members of the ABC Kicks For Jesus have two things in common, they are all pastors and are trained in martial arts.
King is employed by Scioto County Regional Water District and resides in Otway. Brad Harris is employed by Heartland Hospice and lives in Portsmouth, and pastors Otway Christian Union Church in Otway. Matt Phipps is employed by OSCO Industries, lives in Otway, Ohio and is the pastor of Tickridge Community Church in Otway.
Pertaining to martial arts, Phipps has a black belt in Tae Kwan do, King said he has a black belt in Karate, and a green belt in Tae Kwando, and Harris has a yellow belt with an orange stripe. He said he traveled with his wife, Phipps, and Harris, and their wives, to Los Angeles to compete at the American Bible Challenge.
Harris said being a part of the Bible Belt team, was an amazing experience.
“It was an awesome opportunity. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d be on a game show on television. The folks in Los Angeles were so good to us, and so friendly. We are so thankful to have been a part of it, to be able to win money for the ministry is so unreal. We are excited about reaching out to the children in Scioto County, to be able to teach the Bible to them, and pray with them, and witness our faith to the folks in Scioto County means so much to us,” Harris said.
Harris also said competing in the challenge also brought the three men closer together, and the community.
“It really brought Matt, and Jonathan and I closer together. With the expansion, hopefully it will provide a place, especially in Scioto County, a place of positivity where children can go and learn discipline, martial arts, and have the godly influence,” Harris said.
The other Bible Belt Team member, Matt Phipps, was not available for comment at the time of the interview with The Portsmouth Daily Times.
For more information regarding Kicks for Jesus, visit the website at: www.kicksforjesus.com. They can also be found on Facebook at Kicks for Jesus.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-370-0712 or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.