Conversion Bowl

Not intended to offend, I promise. This piece is simply some light entertainment for your weekend.

THE CONVERSION BOWL

“Well, good afternoon and welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us for this year’s Conversion Bowl. We’ve got a capacity crowd for this afternoon’s match-up and it looks as though the weather’s going to hold. You may remember last year’s bowl when a storm came over during the match and lightning produced the highest score in Conversion Bowl history. We’ve got fair skies today so it’s unlikely that there will be many ‘fear of God’ conversions today.

So, in the white jerseys with WWJD splattered across the front, we have the 50 hand-of-God-picked stars of First Baptist of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and quite a team they are. Led by the charismatic Rev. Jedediah Jones, who holds the record for tract delivery, this is a team that’s been tough to beat all season. Their motto is ‘connect, convince, convert’ and it’s been working this season. First Baptist has doubled in size this year, parking lot coverage is up by 40% and the Rev Jones is letting everyone know it. You can see him there on the sidelines, warming up. Just look at that Bible-thumping…tremendous action there.”

“Thanks, Jim, yes, First Baptist has been in heavenly form but they may have met their match in St Mark’s Presbyterian, Pasadena, California. Just a wonderfully gifted team of proselytizers. These guys have been going from strength to strength and finished their last match with a season high of 45. 45! That’s unheard of and although some called for a recount, reports pewside the following Sunday showed converts singing with ‘adequate conviction’, that’s what the rules require. Very impressive.”

“Well, we’re just awaiting the referees’ orders to start the match. For those of you joining us for the first time, both teams are given an hour to convert as many heathen as they can. All kinds, atheists, agnostics, New Agers, Moslems and Jews are out there. Some say they’ll stand firm but we’ve heard that before and seen some notable atheists crack within seconds so you just can’t tell. Strength of unbelief is no guide in this game.”

“That’s right, Jim. Now, teams are allowed the use of Bibles, one commentary and a limit of two Christian books each. Points are awarded for a verifiable conversion; judges are posted around the field. Extra points go for a full baptism and speaking in tongues. Early opinion this season favored Little Rock Pentecostal, Arkansas with that last one but in the semis they span out of control. Half the members began healing each other and had to be led off the field in tears. Just extraordinary scenes. I’ve got a quote here from a spokesman in the Charismatic Quarterly which says: ‘We may have lost the match but’-his words-‘it was a blessing for us’ so we’ll just have to keep an eye out today for anything unusual. Baptists in particular can be very unpredictable. All right now, the referee has his flag up…the heathen are milling around …both team captains are waving their Bibles to signal they’re ready …and we’re off!”

“You’ve got to watch the tactics here, Jim. The Baptists have gone for the three-on-one approach over there near the corner, I can see a prospect backing away .. it’s a tactic that can sometimes work but experience shows it normally produces defensiveness so we’ll have to see if they change their tactics later in the match.”

“Over there near the baptistry, I can see a man go down on his knees. Yes, there’s the bowed heads and the Baptists take an early lead. And they’re finishing up with a Baptism, an extra point for that. You can see the Rev Jones grinning from ear to ear as he wades into the baptistry. He’ll be happy with this start.”

“Yes he will, Jim, an early lead helps a team relax and focus but hold on, The Presbyterians seem to be wrapping up a husband and wife double over there near the center circle. Yes, there they go, they’re saying a prayer and the judges confirm it’s a double for St Mark’s. Nice use of the husband/wife pincer movement.”

***

“Well, the forty five minute mark has been passed and the Baptists are up by five. St Mark’s are really up against it here. You can see them all huddled in the middle, praying. That’s been known to turn a match around in the past but we’ll just have to see what happens here. There’s a lot of pressure on them right now. The heathen are wearing bored looks, glancing at their watches, they look like a tough crowd to convince.”

“Yes, St Mark’s will be asking for a miracle here, Jim, so it’s just as well they’re Christians and have some knowledge of the field but even so, fifteen minutes is pushing it. In fact, hold on…yes, it looks like the Baptists are letting up. You can see them gathering down in the corner of the field. They’ve dragged over their organ and yes, the hymn books are out. They’ve started singing hymns! This is just extraordinary…I can’t believe this.  There are still fifteen minutes to go and the Baptists think it’s all over! They’ve left the field to St Mark’s and they’re wide open for the evangelistic dunk!”

“You’re absolutely right there, Bill, and it looks as though St Mark’s are going to take advantage. Their pastor, Rev. Wright, is getting up on a chair, they’ve got a crowd around him of about sixty. This is going to get interesting here. He’s starting to preach. If he can make five here, he’ll tie the match. One more and St Mark’s will take it. Let’s see what happens here; just keep an eye on those faces. If you see them listening intently, you know it’s starting to be effective. He’ll talk for ten minutes, then go for the altar call.”

“Well, Jim, I thought he’d go for the fire and brimstone technique but no, he’s using pure apologetics. The crowd looks intrigued but he’ll need more than that. Yes, as I thought, he’s rounding it off with ‘the love of God’ and it looks to me as though there are some who are wavering and here it comes, the altar call. It’s all down to these final seconds. The Baptists have stopped singing hymns and it looks … yes, I’m sure I’m right, it looks as though they’re praying. In fact, the judges too look like they’re praying. We’ve never seen anything like this before. No counter disruptive moves from the Baptists, like stupid questions to the preacher, no… heads are still bowed, they are definitely praying. And now a hush has descended on the crowd and it looks like most of the spectators are also praying. Unbelievable. I guess, Jim, we should probably bow our heads at this point too.” (Pause)

“Well, Bill, they’re coming forward. I can see four, five…another couple. Five more from the back, holding hands, are walking forward. This is incredible. The Baptists have joined the Presbyterians to handle the prayers of commitment. You can see them beginning to mingle. There are still unbelievers out there but they look stunned by what’s happening. Yes, there’s one being led off by a judge. And not surprisingly, he wants a Bible. It’s that kind of afternoon out there.

In all my twenty-five years of covering Conversion matches, I’ve never witnessed anything like this. It looks like Rev. Jones has conceded defeat. Yes, he’s walked over and he’s now hugging Rev Wright. What amazing scenes…this is just unprecedented. And now the crowd has taken up the hymn ‘What a Mighty God We Have’. The whistle has gone but no one seems to care any more. Final score: Baptists 24, Presbyterians 33. Thank you for joining us, everyone ..until next year’s Conversion Bowl, good night!!”

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