LAWRENCE, KA.-— Wayne Simiens, forward for the men’s basketball team at Kansas University (KU), will play in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Tournament game against Illinois-Chicago Friday but he will first pray. With a future in the NBA, Wayne, who met God through Victory Campus Ministries (VCM) will be used as an instrument by God to testify to countless people.
“Guys like Wayne Simien are what God is going to change the world with,” said Dan Coke, former Jayhawk football player who is known as a “campus evangelist” at KU. “He's going to be on the national scene someday, so people are going to watch how he lives his life. And when they do, they'll think, ‘Wow, what a ” great, great man this is.'
When Coke along with some other evangelists tried to speak to Simien about the love of the Lord, Simien at first was not receptive.
“They could tell that I had a burden on my shoulders,” Simien said. “I'd see these guys on campus from far away and think, ‘Man, I don't want to talk to these guys.' Sometimes I'd find myself crossing the street just to avoid them. I knew they'd want to bring it up and I didn't want to talk about it.”
However, as Simien recounts their persistence he is touched that they didn’t know his name yet showed “love toward a total stranger.”
Simien has changed tremendously from being an “emotional rollercoaster” in January 2003. He had suffered a shoulder injury at a season-end game against UMKC and blamed himself after he felt the team lost the national championship because of his absence in the game.
However, after meeting Coke, Simien began attending VCM worship/fellowship services on Wednesdays. Simien then went to an Athletes for Christ summer camp in Austin, Texas where after praying to God, Simien surrendered his former party-life of alcohol and drugs to a life of glorifying God.
“One night I decided to hand my life over to the Lord,” Simien said. “I prayed the simple prayer. I asked for forgiveness from my past. I asked him to lead me into the future he wanted me to live.”
Now, Simien is a walking, talking testimony.
His coach Bill Self testified the change in Simien. “When Wayne came back from Austin, he was absolutely on fire,” Self said. “He was so excited about what had happened to him, he was so proud. You could just see the joy coming out of his body. He's been a great witness to everyone.”
“I'll tell my story to anyone who will listen,” said Simien who wears a fish necklace show his faith. He said the necklace has a “spiritual meaning behind it” because it reminded him of what Jesus said when he called his disciples: ‘Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.'
The junior star player carries his Bible and shares his passion for Christ with his teammates.
“We were in class the other day, and he saw a scripture he liked and read it to me,” KU guard Michael Lee said. “You can count on Wayne having a smile on his face. He's got a newfound joy, and you can really see it.”
He even plays worship CD of Christian artists like Mercy Me while the team comes into change in the locker room and one time gave a spur-of-the-moment sermon that attracted 700 students.
Simiens who described his happiness in the past as one based on “circumstances” now has been able to lift the “heaviness” in his heart.
“Wayne has a deep sense of significance in his own heart now,” said John McDermott, Simien's pastor at Morning Star Church where Simien attends. “He knows that God loves him and cares about him, that he's significant in God's eyes. That allows him to be less self-centered.”
“It's amazing,” Simien said. “All the things the world tells you should you make happy, things like fame and scoring a lot of points and seeing your name on the back of a jersey … they really don't mean that much. I find a greater joy in serving the Lord instead doing all the things the world tells me to do.
Remembering to give out all the love and joy he has received as a born-again Christian, Simien will return for his senior year instead of going out to an NBA draft.
“I still think there's a lot of work to be done on the team — and on the campus, as far as God is concerned,” said Simien.