Mike Minter announced his retirement from his position as Safety for the Carolina Panthers this past August. Minter is the Panthers’ all-time leader in tackles and games started. He is known for being a hard hitter on the field, his charismatic personality and his strong Christian faith.
Mike gave his life to Jesus in his Junior year of College as a Nebraska Cornhusker, when a brief time of being sidelined from football due to a knee injury, as well as the birth of his first son, caused him to really look at his life and seek the bigger answers. He contemplated what his life would be like without football. In addition to the events that began this soul search, then-Head Coach Tom Osborne, who consistently walked as a Christian both as a coach and as a man, further influenced Mike to find himself in God. As Osborne continued to share his testimony and life, Minter came to this conclusion:
I’m not a dummy and when I see a great deal, I’m going to jump on it. So, I jumped on it, kneeled beside of my bed, and asked Him to come into my life. He began to work from that point on and it has been a journey ever since.
Chris Bubak, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader at Nebraska at the time, followed up with Minter, discipling him and including him in the growing FCA Bible study. Minter credits the leadership of Bubak with keeping him focused on eternal things, not just winning championships.
Mike Minter looked far into his future, past the Carolina Panthers, and had desires to go deeper into the things of God once his time playing football professionally was over. His dreams then turned to ministry and perhaps coaching High School football. He felt that God had so blessed him, so it was his intention to turn around and be a blessing to others.
In early August, Minter sat alone in his home theater to watch the Carolina Panthers play their opening game – without him for the first time. Yes, just ten short years ago, the Panthers came into existence, and Minter was there from the start. Certainly, this was an emotional time for Minter, but he seamlessly moved into a new season of life. The following Sunday morning he would be greeted as the new Community Pastor at King’s Way Baptist Church. Minter’s comments about his new role make it clear that he’s jumping into this new job with the same enthusiasm and integrity and skill that earned him such respect in the NFL:
It’s like you’re getting drafted again. When you’re going into the NFL, you have these emotions, things going on in your mind. You have a fear of the unknown. But my deal is to get in here and serve however I can. I’m not into the status quo. I’m not into going to church, hearing a sermon, listening to some music and going home.
I’m about, ‘Let’s change a life!’ I want to touch people where they’re at. If they’re in the projects, I want to be there with them. If they’re in a mansion, I want to be there with them. I can relate to them, because I’ve been on both sides.
Prodigal Son Magazine asked Mike about the greatest problem facing men today, and his answer was all about the family:
I think it’s attacks on the family. It’s strong. With how America is built today, you know, as men, you have to go out and work hard, be away from the family a lot, to even make a living these days, so it becomes difficult in that sense. I think, being able to understand how to be a father to your sons is a big issue that we face as men…being able to sit down with your kids and let them know that you love them and let them know that you are not superman, you’re not super dad, and that you make mistakes too. It’s ok to make mistakes, just learn from it and move on and grow from it. Love them from the sense of letting them know that it’s not all about being macho. I think those issues, one, marriage, and two, kids, are some strong issues that are facing us today that aren’t really being talked about or we talk about it when it’s too late.
Given Minter’s heart for the family, it comes as no surprise that he has teamed up with former fellow Carolina Panther and fellow Nebraska Cornhusker (and Christian brother) Mike Rucker, to form Ruckus House Learning Center in Harrisburg, North Carolina, a Christian based daycare/preschool/afterschool program. Also on the Ruckus House team are Stephen Davis, now a Running Back for the St. Louis Rams, and Muhsin Muhammad, a Chicago Bears Wide Receiver. Here is what Ruckus House is all about:
This is about helping one child at a time. You help one child, then you’ve helped one family, then you’ve helped one neighborhood, then you’ve helped one city, one state and maybe someday the entire country.
Our sole purpose is to change our world by bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the sacred work of caring for and shaping our children, our families, and our communities.
After returning earlier this year from a trip to Senegal and Gambia with the YMCA, Minter was so impacted by his experience that he has his sights set on opening Ruckus House franchises in West Africa.
It seems that Mike Minter has come full circle. Minter says that his grandmother was very influential in his life as a child, and she was very involved in church life. Young Minter felt a strong connection to the church because of her. Sadly, his grandmother died when he was only 7 years old, and while his sense of connection to the church faded with her, we can be sure that her influence indeed took root.