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Friday, February 20, 2009

Amid the grieving, a rare act of sportsmanship

February 18, 2009 - Associated Press

The coach never considered any other option.

It didn't matter that his DeKalb, Ill., High School basketball team had ridden a bus two and a half hours to get to Milwaukee, then waited another hour past game time to play. Didn't matter that the game was close, or that this was a chance to beat a big city team.

Johntel Franklin scored 10 points in the game following the loss of his mother.

Something else was on Dave Rohlman's mind when he asked for a volunteer to shoot two free throws awarded his team on a technical foul in the second quarter. His senior captain raised his hand, ready to go to the line as he had many times before.

Only this time it was different.

"You realize you're going to miss them, don't you?" Rohlman said.

Darius McNeal nodded his head. He understood what had to be done.

It was a Saturday night in February, and the Barbs were playing a non-conference game on the road against Milwaukee Madison. It was the third meeting between the two schools, who were developing a friendly rivalry that spanned two states.

The teams planned to get together after the game and share some pizzas and soda. But the game itself almost never took place.

Hours earlier, the mother of Milwaukee Madison senior captain Johntel Franklin died at a local hospital. Carlitha Franklin had been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer, but she began to hemorrhage that morning while Johntel was taking his college ACT exam.

Her son and several of his teammates were at the hospital late that afternoon when the decision was made to turn off the life-support system. Carlitha Franklin was just 39.

"She was young and they were real close," said Milwaukee coach Aaron Womack Jr., who was at the hospital. "He was very distraught and it happened so suddenly he didn't have time to grieve."

Womack was going to cancel the game, but Franklin told him he wanted the team to play. And play they did, even though the game started late and Milwaukee Madison dressed only eight players.
Early in the second quarter, Womack saw someone out of the corner of his eye. It was Franklin, who came there directly from the hospital to root his teammates on.

The Knights had possession, so Womack called a time out. His players went over and hugged their grieving teammate. Fans came out of the stands to do the same.

"We got back to playing the game and I asked if he wanted to come and sit on the bench," Womack said during a telephone interview.

"No," Franklin replied. "I want to play."

There was just one problem. Since Franklin wasn't on the pre-game roster, putting him in meant drawing a technical foul that would give DeKalb two free throws.

Though it was a tight game, Womack was willing to give up the two points. It was more important to help his senior guard and co-captain deal with his grief by playing.

Over on the other bench, though, Rohlman wasn't so willing to take them. He told the referees to forget the technical and just let Franklin play.
"I could hear them arguing for five to seven minutes, saying, `We're not taking it, we're not taking it," Womack said. "The refs told them, no, that's the rule. You have to take them."

That's when Rohlman asked for volunteers, and McNeal's hand went up.

He went alone to the free throw line, dribbled the ball a couple of times, and looked at the rim. His first attempt went about two feet, bouncing a couple of times as it rolled toward the end line. The second barely left his hand. It didn't take long for the Milwaukee players to figure out what was going on.

They stood and turned toward the DeKalb bench and started applauding the gesture of sportsmanship. Soon, so did everybody in the stands.

"I did it for the guy who lost his mom," McNeal told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It was the right thing to do."

Franklin would go on to score 10 points, and Milwaukee Madison broke open the game in the second half to win 62-47. Afterward, the teams went out for pizza, two players from each team sharing each pie.

Franklin stopped by briefly, thankful that his team was there for him.

"I got kind of emotional but it helped a lot just to play," he said. "I felt like I had a lot of support out there."

Carlitha Franklin's funeral was last Friday, and the school turned out for her and her son. Cheerleaders came in uniform, and everyone from the principal and teachers to Johntel's classmates were there.

"Even the cooks from school showed up," Womack said. "It lets you know what kind of kid he is."
Basketball is a second sport for the 18-year-old Franklin, who says he has had some scholarship nibbles and plans to play football in college. He just has a few games left for the Knights, who are 6-11 and got beat 71-36 Tuesday night by Milwaukee Hamilton.

It hasn't been the greatest season for the team, but they have stuck together through a lot of adversity.

"We maybe don't have the best basketball players in the world but they go to class and take care of business," Womack said. "We have a losing record but there's life lessons going on, good ones."
None so good, though, as the moment a team and a player decided there were more important things than winning and having good stats.

Yes, DeKalb would go home with a loss. But it was a trip they'll never forget.

"This is something our kids will hold for a lifetime," Rohlman said. "They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they'll remember what happened in that gym that night."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Little About a LOT

Just a few thoughts or things I'd like to share...

Life is never easy, but with the Lord's help, we can get through even the most difficult situation.

I love the new Shepherd LIVE worship CD that Michael North produced. You'll be able to pick up a copy at the Praises bookstore or purchase one at the Call On Jesus counter. You WILL BE BLESSED.

Many people have been working 24/7 this week building the set for the Passion Play. As you may recall, the play was moved at the last second to the Tent last year. We have a new director this year, and it's going to be AMAZING. Get your tickets early this year. I want to thank ALL THE FOLKS working on this year's play in advance .

We have already begun plans for our Easter service under the Tent. It is going to be GLORIOUS.

Pastor Tim is leaving for Poland today. We are looking at helping plant 100 churches in that part of the world. That is just ONE project out of MANY that we are involved with around the world. Pray for Tim's safe travels.

I spent Monday with three preachers from Kansas, Florida, and Illinois, Brother Joe Wright, Gary York, and John Henry, respectively. I wish I could have spent a week with them. It is always beneficial to spend time with these men, talking and mentoring one another.

I met a father this week who has a 22 year old daughter who has been sick. She is NOT interested in serving God, and she lives close to our Brentwood campus. Would you pray with me that somehow OUR CHURCH could minister to her and that her heart would be OPENED to serving the Lord?

I wish I was going to the Holy Land this year. I wish YOU could travel with me to the HOLY LAND sometime in the near future.

I love High School Basketball. The Hillcrest Varsity Girls, led by sharp shooter Aundrea Dava, made the playoffs and play Thursday night. Go EAGLES!!! And keep an eye on Lauren Holiday of Campbell Hall. She is a star in the making. And Gennifer Branden over at Chatsworth High School is a PHENOM. Go watch her play.

Someone bought me tickets for me and my 12 year old daughter to go and see Phantom of the Opera on Friday night for her birthday. I enjoy seeing plays like that. Have you seen Wicked?? Don't be mad... but I lovedddddddddddd Wicked. And Ragtime... and Les Miserables.

I'm supposed to have a birthday next month, but I've decided to skip it altogether. Besides, I don't feel any older, so why should I try to convince myself that I am any older? Why would I do that?

We will be in a new series this weekend, "He is the Vine and we are the B.R.A.N.C.H.E.S." Read John 15 and see if you can figure out what each of those letters stand for. The first one to figure it out will get a FREE CD copy of the entire series.

I started with a meeting at 7:30 AM this morning and it's now 5:15 PM. I have been in meetings literally ALL DAY LONG. I wonder if Jesus was ever in a "MEETING."

I need to shut this thing down and think about what I'm going to do next. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Maybe see who is on Facebook?
Maybe see who is on Myspace?
Maybe see where all my children are.
Maybe tackle a few more things before heading home and watching the Laker game???
Maybe ride my hog?
Maybe answer a few more emails ?
Maybe just think MORE about JESUS?
YES... that's what I think I'll do.... Just think MORE ABOUR JESUS!!!

Will you be joining me???

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Word to my Staff

I need to take a moment and write a short note to thank the staff here at Shepherd of the Hills Church. Not a day goes by where I am not thinking about them or praying for them. It really is an impossible task for any ONE person to take care of so many church members and so I am TOTALLY DEPENDENT upon the Pastors, Elders, Ministry Leaders and support staff here at Shepherd.

In Acts 6:1-7, the word of God spread because the organization of the church provided the Apostles the needed time for prayer and the ministry of the word. Often, people ask me the reason for the success of our church, and I always point to the ordained work and leading of the Holy Spirit along with the ordained work of the GREATEST STAFF IN AMERICA.

Please take a moment to thank and pray for each of our staff members. They are loyal, hard working, God fearing, God honoring men and women who work tirelessly around the clock. They are underpaid, undervalued, underappreciated.

It is my prayer that God would richly bless each and everyone of them and that God's hedge of protection would be around their families. They are the ones who allow me the needed time to prepare each and every sermon. It is a team effort and I am a small part of this unusually kind and gifted staff.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

My heart breaks over things like this.. How can we live in a world like this?

Associated Press Writer
Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.
Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure.
Only Renelique didn't arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.
What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic's owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant's umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.
Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week later after getting anonymous tips.
"I don't care what your politics are, what your morals are, this should not be happening in our community," said Tom Pennekamp, a Miami attorney representing Williams in her lawsuit against Renelique (ren-uh-LEEK') and the clinic owners.
The state Board of Medicine is to hear Renelique's case in Tampa on Friday and determine whether to strip his license. The state attorney's homicide division is investigating, though no charges have been filed. Terry Chavez, a spokeswoman with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office, said this week that prosecutors were nearing a decision.
Renelique's attorney, Joseph Harrison, called the allegations at best "misguided and incomplete" in an e-mail to The Associated Press. He didn't provide details.
The case has riled the anti-abortion community, which contends the clinic's actions constitute murder.
"The baby was just treated as a piece of garbage," said Tom Brejcha, president of The Thomas More Society, a law firm that is also representing Williams. "People all over the country are just aghast."
Even those who support abortion rights are concerned about the allegations.
"It really disturbed me," said Joanne Sterner, president of the Broward County chapter of the National Organization for Women, after reviewing the administrative complaint against Renelique. "I know that there are clinics out there like this. And I hope that we can keep (women) from going to these types of clinics."
According to state records, Renelique received his medical training at the State University of Haiti. In 1991, he completed a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Interfaith Medical Center in New York.
New York records show that Renelique has made at least five medical malpractice payments in the past decade, the circumstances of which were not detailed in the filings.
Several attempts to reach Renelique were unsuccessful. Some of his office numbers were disconnected, no home number could be found and he did not return messages left with his attorney.
Williams struggled with the decision to have an abortion, Pennekamp said. She declined an interview request made through him.
She concluded she didn't have the resources or maturity to raise a child, he said, and went to the Miramar Women's Center on July 17, 2006. Sonograms indicated she was 23 weeks pregnant, according to the Department of Health. She met Renelique at a second clinic two days later.
Renelique gave Williams laminaria, a drug that dilates the cervix, and prescribed three other medications, according to the administrative complaint filed by the Health Department. She was told to go to yet another clinic, A Gyn Diagnostic Center in Hialeah, where the procedure would be performed the next day, on July 20, 2006.
Williams arrived in the morning and was given more medication.
The Department of Health account continues as follows: Just before noon she began to feel ill. The clinic contacted Renelique. Two hours later, he still hadn't shown up. Williams went into labor and delivered the baby.
"She came face to face with a human being," Pennekamp said. "And that changed everything."
The complaint says one of the clinic owners, Belkis Gonzalez came in and cut the umbilical cord with scissors, then placed the baby in a plastic bag, and the bag in a trash can.
Williams' lawsuit offers a cruder account: She says Gonzalez knocked the baby off the recliner chair where she had given birth, onto the floor. The baby's umbilical cord was not clamped, allowing her to bleed out. Gonzalez scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a red plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.
No working telephone number could be found for Gonzalez, and an attorney who has represented the clinic in the past did not return a message.
At 23 weeks, an otherwise healthy fetus would have a slim but legitimate chance of survival. Quadruplets born at 23 weeks last year at The Nebraska Medical Center survived.
An autopsy determined Williams' baby - she named her Shanice - had filled her lungs with air, meaning she had been born alive, according to the Department of Health. The cause of death was listed as extreme prematurity.
The Department of Health believes Renelique committed malpractice by failing to ensure that licensed personnel would be present when Williams was there, among other missteps.
The department wants the Board of Medicine, a separate agency, to permanently revoke Renelique's license, among other penalties. His license is currently restricted, permitting him to only perform abortions when another licensed physician is present and can review his medical records.
Should prosecutors file murder charges, they'd have to prove the baby was born alive, said Robert Batey, a professor of criminal law at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport. The defense might contend that the child would have died anyway, but most courts would not allow that argument, he said.
"Hastening the death of an individual who is terminally ill is still considered causing the death of that individual," Batey said. "And I think a court would rule similarly in this type of case."