RUSSELL, Ky. (KT) - Every week when an adult church basketball league in northeastern Kentucky meets to play a round of games, they listen to a devotion or testimony from someone in the community.
They’ve had believers from all walks of life share their stories about how Jesus transformed their lives and the importance of developing a relationship with Him.
It’s a prerequisite for the players to be there on time and hear the testimonies before their respective games are played. If you don’t make it for testimony time, you’re ineligible to play in the first half of your game.
This week they heard from a young believer who has already experienced four mission trips, had one-on-one gospel conversations with friends and raised money for mission organizations. He has engaged those around him with the love of Jesus and how the impact on his life is an example of how God can impact your life for the better, too.
The players in the basketball league listened intently as he shared with them.
And he’s 9 years old.
Say hello to Jarek Compston, the son of Amy For Africa co-founders Chris and Amy Compston. He isn’t just a missionary-in-training. He’s already there.
Jarek, a member at First Baptist Church in Russell, is a third-grader at Rose Hill Christian School. He has already had a children’s book written about him and his missionary efforts in Uganda, where his favorite food is goat-on-a-stick and where he carries rock star status with those in the area where his mother and father serve through their ministry.
Jarek is following in the footsteps of his parents, who in 2013 began a faith-based organization that has steadily grown to the point where Amy For Africa is building a $1.1 million Christian school - the AFA Christian Academy.
Jarek became a child of God as a child, being saved when he was 5 years old. He led a friend to accept Jesus less than a year later and hasn't stopped since. He will be the first to share with anyone he meets the importance of having a relationship with Jesus.
Jarek is wise well beyond his years and has no fear when telling others about Jesus. He shared with the men a passage of scripture from Exodus, which his mother said he selected himself, when Moses told God that he couldn't speak well enough to address Pharoah and the Lord told him Aaron could speak for him.
"I like that verse because even though Moses couldn't talk good, God still made a way," Jarek said. "And even if I was 6, God still made a way (for him to run a half-marathon for Amy For Africa)."
“We’re so proud of him,” his mother Amy said. “He has a heart for the Lord. You can see it in him. When he goes with us to Uganda, everybody over there can see it too. It just bursts forth from him.”
Through most of Jarek’s life, his parents have been growing in Christ. They became Christians in 2012 when Jarek was 2. He’s heard his mother share her testimony of drugs and alcohol addiction and being a bad mother with countless churches and recovery centers. But he never saw or doesn’t remember that side of her, only the side that has shown a love for Christ that spills over to anyone around her.
“We’re so thankful for having God in our lives and how that’s affected Jarek’s life and our family’s life,” Amy Compston said. “It’s all Jesus! Praise Him!”
Watching his mother and father testify about Jesus on daily basis with how they’re now living has made it natural for Jarek to do the same. And that’s what he did on Thursday in the basketball league where he witnessed to more than 50 young men over a three-hour period.
Jarek has also followed in the footsteps of his marathon-running mother almost literally. He has raised money for AFA through two half-marathon efforts, including the first one when he was 6 years old and ran the second-fastest time in U.S. history for his age group in the Marshall Half Marathon in Huntington, W.Va.
With the community behind him, he raised $11,000 in that half-marathon. About six months later, he ran another half-marathon in Indianapolis that generated $17,000 in donations to AFA.
He began running 5Ks at the age of 4 and plays soccer and basketball.
“He has a pure heart and loves being a Christian,” said league co-organizer Chris Long, a family friend of the Compstons who has developed a friendly running rivalry with Jarek. “I saw where he has given his testimony at a few places and I thought it would be a perfect match. His father likes basketball and his mother is well-liked and known for being a great speaker.”
Jarek, who will be making his fifth mission trip to Uganda this summer, delivered on the invitation, keeping the men’s attention as he shared his two-minute testimony and then closed with a heartfelt prayer for them.
“It’s just another example of how God can use anyone,” his mother said. “Jarek has a story just like any other believer. The question is are you willing to share it with others?”