RIVERDALE— No one would ever have imagined that William Wynn, a football star who played for the University of Georgia, would become a pastor one day.
“I was nervous at first, but I saw that he was serious. I was so used to him being the guy who likes to have a good time,” said his sister Maria.
“I have always looked up to my brother as a football player, but now I see him in a whole other light,” Michael said.
Champions for Christ is fairly new ministry under the leadership of Pastor William Wynn and Reta, his wife of 20 years. This more than 125 member church services are temporarily held at Martin Luther King Elementary School’s gymnasium, in Riverdale.
One thing is for certain during Sunday morning worship services, Pastor Wynn is not shy about exposing his past to his congregation. In fact it’s usually the basis of his sermons.
“How can I preach about something if I have never gone through it myself?” Wynn said in a refined tone.
Before coming into his calling to preach the gospel, he said partying and having a good time was his priority during his college years. Wynn received a football scholarship to attend the University of Georgia. He said during his stint at the university he was beguiled by the attention he received.
“I would play in front of 80,000 to 100,000 people,” he said. With that, he added, came the unwarranted pleasures.
“When you’re an athlete, and popular, you get a lot of attention and things you don’t ask for.”
But all that would change.
Wynn tried out for the Atlanta Falcons, but was cut from the team.
“I was not bitter — in fact, I was tired,” said Wynn, who maintains his muscular frame. “It was more so a dream for my family.”
So, instead of riding his football glory in the National Football League, he opted for the simpler life and career. Wynn took a job at local high school in Atlanta, teaching economics.
“I liked it, for a while,” he said. “But I wanted to give my wife more.”
Wynn and Reta were high school sweethearts and married in 1993. In order to provide a better life for his wife, he chose a criminal path.
“I started selling cocaine and marijuana,” he said. “I was a high school teacher and a drug dealer. I had no morals, so it didn’t register to me that what I was doing was wrong.” He added it was a neighbor who introduced him to the business. He showed him the ropes and for a year, Wynn said, he accumulated an estimated $70,000 from his drug sales, which he hid in a safe at his home.
Until he got caught.
“I had no idea that’s what he was doing,” Reta said. “I was shocked!”
Wynn said he was busted with three kilos of cocaine and five tons of marijuana.
“I actually had 10 kilos of cocaine, but the officers only found three,” he said.
He said while he sat in jail, with no bond, he made a commitment to the Lord.
“I asked Him to give me a second chance,” Wynn said. Then the unthinkable happened — Wynn spent only a few weeks in jail and was charged with a misdemeanor.
“It was nothing but the grace of God Who saved me,” he said. From this experience, he began to change is lifestyle.
“I stopped hanging with the some old friends, partying and drinking,” Wynn said.
His mother, Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon, said it was prophesied to him when he was 12 years old that he would become a preacher some day.
“I didn’t believe it and I was waiting for it to manifest,” Dixon said. “I started to doubt and lose hope but, It came to pass. I’m so proud of my son.”
Wynn said once he gave up his carnal lifestyle and surrendered to Christ, he lost most of his worldly possessions. However, through it all, Reta stayed by his side.
“It made me realize how much my wife really loved me,” Wynn said.
“It’s been a long hard road and whole lot of tears,” Reta said. “But I would not trade my husband for anything in this world. He is truly a genuine man of God.”
The couple began their ministry with seven people on Feb. 17, 2011, and held services at the banquet hall, in Riverdale.
Jamar Fordham, another Henry resident and longtime friend of the Wynns, joined the church soon after it opened.
“His ministry has blessed me so much,” Fordham said. Fordham and Wynn taught football together at Riverdale High School a few years ago. He said they would always have spiritual discussions.
“I knew he was the real deal and he was not about filling seats, but about saving souls,” he said.
“I’m grateful,” added Dixon. “He’s using his gift to draw young men into the church and that’s so powerful.”
Pastor Wynn said his goal is always to win souls and be real with his members. In fact, he doesn’t even get paid. His reward is being able to preach and see those who are lost come into the God’s “marvelous light.”
Champions for Christ Ministry will celebrate their one-year anniversary on Feb. 17 at Martin Luther King Elementary School’s gymnasium, in Riverdale.
“All are welcome to come,” Pastor Wynn said.