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Area football coaches preach the sport and the Gospel

NATCHEZ — On the sidelines of any sport, some Miss-Lou coaches can be seen coaching their respective teams. But on Sundays, they can be seen in suits spreading the messages of their respective faiths from pulpits to the people.

George Barnes, Warren Whitaker and Kevin Campbell involve themselves in both coaching and preaching.

Barnes is a Baptist preacher and has been preaching for 15 years. Barnes also coaches the Ferriday High School Trojans boys basketball team. Barnes said preaching was never his calling.

“I never visualized myself being a preacher,” Barnes said. “I went through some things and God revealed to me that preaching was my calling.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Barnes has hosted livestreams of himself preaching via social media. Barnes said his message depends on what the Lord puts on his heart.

Besides being a preacher, Barnes has been coaching for 20-plus years.

“If both of preaching and coaching are done right, then they can play a big role of preparing people for life,” Barnes said.

Meanwhile, Whitaker coached both football and track for 18 years at Wilkinson County Christian Academy.

At ACCS, Whitaker coached football for three years and track for four years.

Whitaker has preached at Fort Adams Baptist Church for 28 years. Whitaker said he was a preacher before he became a coach.

“I played football in high school and one year in college,” Whitaker said. “I enjoyed being part of the game and working with young people.”

Lastly, Campbell is a pastor at Cranfield Baptist Church in Roxie.

“When I was 17 years old, I heard the Lord speak to me and He called me to be a preacher,” Campbell said. “It was something I desired and loved to do.”

On Friday nights, Campbell can be seen on the Natchez High School Bulldogs football field as the offensive-line coach.

This upcoming season will be Campbell’s ninth season of coaching. Campbell said he realized he wanted to be a coach when he was in middle school.

For preachers around the world, Campbell said he wants people to think of them differently.

“I think we have to understand to preach the Gospel that we have to go everywhere. I think we are all given a mission field to go to,” Campbell said. “In reality, God puts us in places every single day to preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world. I think the place that God put me is in the Natchez Adams School District with the football field and the kids I teach. I pray that other preachers realize their place to preach too.”