As a speedy wide receiver wearing orange and green, Daryl Jones blazed down the gridiron to help lead the University of Miami Hurricanes to a National Championship in 2001.

He was taken in the seventh round of the 2002 National Football League Draft by the New York Giants and continued his playing days with the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings before hanging up his cleats.

Last year, the former football star returned to the city of his alma mater with a new purpose—carrying a Bible instead of a pigskin.

Jones planted The Rock Fellowship, an intentionally multi-ethnic church, in 2016. Currently the church meets on Sundays in the Cobb 17 Theatre in downtown Miami Springs.

Jones’ football notoriety, exuberant personality and passion for Christ have opened many doors in the community.

“We’re just excited to be answering God’s call to come down here and be a part of what He’s doing and His movement in South Florida,” Jones said. “And one of the things that we want to do is to reach out to other ethnicities, cultures and even age groups.”

“On a Sunday, we will have eight to ten different countries represented in our service. And that just gets me excited about what God’s doing in South Florida and in the world,” he said.

While at the “U,” Jones was known for his leadership on and off the field, guiding younger players and serving as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

He also met his wife, Kamica, a Miami native, and together produced seven children: Jazz, Joy, Jewel, Jax, June, Jet, and Jay.

During the years in Miami and later in the NFL, Jones said he “grew more and more in my faith.” When he left football, he served with churches in Dallas, Texas, and earned a seminary degree to prepare for his next step in life.

The Rock Fellowship has grown to more than 70 members and as a testimony of Jones’ influence includes several former teammates and their families.

“The biggest challenge we have in this community is that people are comfortable,” Jones said. “Many of them have never read the Bible or attended church. They see no need for Jesus—no need for Christ in their lives.”

Jones is one of six church planters featured in Florida Baptists’ 2017 State Mission Offering emphasis, “Send South Florida,” which will allocate 100 percent of the proceeds toward mission initiatives in South Florida. These church planters are dedicated to reaching Florida’s highest populated and least churched region with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Planting a church requires a great commitment, Jones admitted. “But we’re about making disciples. We want to show people how to do life together in Christ Jesus.”

“What we need in South Florida is for our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us. And we need people to come help us—with boots on the ground.”

By Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention, August 22, 2017