By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA (ANS – April 5, 2017) — At only 11-years-old he was throwing 50-yard passes with his older brother David Carr, then a rookie NFL quarterback. Raised in a godly Christian home, younger brother Derek sowed his share of wild oats until the love of Jesus expressed through a woman drew his heart back to God.
“I grew up in this church and I knew who Christ was and I knew who God was and I loved him,” Derek shared in his home church in Fresno, California in 2015.
But even though Derek prayed to God and knew who He was, he didn’t fully give his life to Christ and follow Him until later.
“I grew up loving football, basketball, and baseball,” he recounted. “My dad went to all my games and if he couldn’t be at a game, he would call me on the phone and pray for me. He was always there for me. My mom was always there to pray for me and talk to me. My family life was awesome. I had parents who loved me.”
His father taught him about discipline and order by using a ball box in the garage. “He wanted everything put back in that box a certain exact way. It was his house and that was how he wanted it done and I respected him,” Carr said.
The family lived in Bakersfield, California before they moved to Texas in 2002 when David became the first draft pick of the Houston Texans. Derek and his family moved back to Bakersfield for his senior year, where he attended Bakersfield Christian High School.
Derek admits he made some bad choices in high school. “I was smoking weed, having sex.
I wish I didn’t do those things. I was out partying, staying out late.”
Still, he maintained a façade around his parents. “I was a different kid on Sunday than I was on Friday and Saturday night.
“I would still tell people about Jesus because I believed in Him and knew it was the truth, but I would go do these things and say, ‘Father, forgive me.’ That’s a scary way to live.”
In three years playing as a high school quarterback in Texas and California, he passed for nearly 7,000 yards. The recruitment letters began to flow in from USC, Cal, Notre Dame, and Miami. “Stanford recruited me until they got my transcripts,” he joked.
Before Derek’s grandfather passed away he went to visit him at the hospital. While his grandfather was too weak to speak to him, the dying man wrote Jeremiah 29:11 on a board:
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Deeply touched by the encounter, Derek later got the verse tattooed on his wrist.
After he enrolled at Fresno State, he competed for the starting job as a freshman. “God knew I wasn’t ready to handle that. If He was to give me all those things when my life wasn’t right yet, oh my goodness, I wouldn’t be here, you would be praying for me,” he confessed.
He was still deeply enmeshed in the party lifestyle. “There are things I don’t want to remember. I was so selfish and hurt other people. My heart wasn’t right. I wanted what I wanted. I wanted to please myself. I was thinking I was living the life.
“The life I was living was leading me down a road to destruction and death. That’s where I was headed,” he said.
Photo captions: 1) Derek Carr. 2) Derek preparing for a game. 3) Derek and wife Heather with one of their two sons. 4) Mark Ellis.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and is also the founder ofwww.GodReports.com, a website that shares testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions. Previously, Mark co-hosted a TV show called “Windows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, aired on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/), which is now co-hosted by Dr. Garry Ansdell, Senior Pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California.
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