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Now, The Devil's Nightmare. Welcome back to another episode of It's Time to Man Up. Today, this is a man's man here on the show today. We met a number of years ago. We're going to find out exactly when we met, but Randy Shepard is with me today.
Randy, welcome to The Man Up Show. Wow, it's a blessing to be here. Nikita, appreciate the opportunity. Well, it's great to have you here with us as well, Randy, and I was trying to think, I'm not even sure you may know, but as how far back our friendship extends, any idea when we might have first met? I know Al Wood has been instrumental in it, but I think you came to Asheville one time and spoke at one of our board members' businesses, Lester Flooring, for a Christmas party, and that may have been, wow, I don't know how long that's been, Nikita, maybe early on in ministry for you, but Al was probably in the audience, may have just shook your hand and said hello, but I know Al has connected us. We've got his friendship, then we have Frank Shelton, a great mutual friend. So I've been watching you for a while and been blessed by your ministry, so it's awesome to connect with you at the Manhood Conference a couple weekends ago and now be on your program.
Wow, what an honor, buddy. Well, and you know what, now that that was like a memory jogger there, because if I'm not mistaken, correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't that like at some kind of a car dealership or something of that nature where we did that Christmas party? Well, he may have had it there.
I know his company is Lester Flooring, which is carpeted flooring. He may have used a dealership that had a bigger room for his party, but how long have you been going in ministry now, Nikita? Oh gosh, now over 28 years, Randy. Yeah, it hasn't been that long. I would say it's been at least 15 to 20 years. Okay.
It wasn't early. Yeah, I've been going 30 years with Crossfire, so we got started about the same time. Well, and we're going to jump into that here too and talk about that. But you're up in the, are you, you're living up in the Asheville, North Carolina area? Yes, sir. Born and raised here, and played basketball at Asheville High, and then got a scholarship to UNC Asheville, then I moved to Memphis for four years. I was in ministry there, and then I moved back here in 93, and when we started Crossfire. Okay.
Ministry partner, Jamie Johnson, so yes sir. You know, tell us just a little bit about, like, about your family growing up, and your brothers and sisters. My mom is 91 years old, praise the Lord, she looks about 71. Wow.
My dad passed about 10 years ago. I'm not single, because I don't desire a wife. As you know, it's hard to be married to an evangelist.
It is, yeah. So I'm looking for that special woman that understands ministry, and you might be able to help me with a little fear, buddy. I've been on the diving board a few times, but I haven't dove in yet.
I hadn't quite pulled the trigger, so to speak, right? No, so I've been kind of, no, I haven't been shipwrecked like the Apostle Paul, or bitten by a snake, but I've been blessed to go to 68 countries and 47 states, so it takes a special woman that wants to put up with that, you know. Wow, 68 countries, and again, I want to dive, dive deeper into this, but let, before we go down that path, so let's back up a little bit about your, your basketball career, and you mentioned Al Wood, and let me just say this for those who don't know, Al Wood, UNC University of North Carolina standout, still holds a couple NCAA records, broke Jerry West records, I think, for three, free throws, not easy to say for me, but, and you may know more about that, Randy, but, and so, and then went on to play in the NBA, and so, at what point, at what point did you meet Al? So you guys are good friends, what point did you meet Al? We had a mutual friend in Dr. John Lott, who was the assistant athletic director of North Carolina. John was an awesome witness on the Chapel Hill campus in the late 70s and 80s, and John was instrumental in discipling pistol Pete Maravich, but John called me one day, 1989, I had been in ministry maybe a year with a ministry in Memphis, Tennessee, which was called Spirit Express, which was a basketball ministry.
John called me and said, Randy, Al Wood just gave his life to Christ, and I want to connect you guys. So I've known Al since 89, we've traveled together to Final Fours and basketball games and in the country and out of the country, it's been a great friendship, he's like a brother to me. Yeah, I follow you on social media, and you and Al, you pop up at all these, all these different games and stuff, and I think it's amazing, and, and, am I right in saying he broke Jerry West's, like, free throw record or something? Yeah, I'm gonna help you with that, you know more about wrestling than I do, so you can help me with that, but he was, he scored 39 points in 1981 when North Carolina was in the Final Four, and they were playing Virginia when Virginia had Ralph Sampson, and Al had 39 points to beat Virginia, that put him into the finals, the championship of NCAA against Indiana back when Isaiah Thomas, who played with the Pistons later on, and Bobby Knight was coaching Indiana, and Ronald Reagan, our president, was shot on that day, and they didn't even know if they were going to play the game, the championship, two days after Al had broken the record of 39 points, and Coach Smith called him, Al tells me the story a couple hours before the game in the hotel room, said guys we're going to play, get your game face on. Of course Carolina lost to Indiana in the championship, but Al went on to be the number four pick and the top senior pick in the NBA draft that next year, so the record was 39 points against Ralph Sampson and Virginia in the Final Four, and the record still holds today. Still holds today from 1981. No one has broken that record.
Wow, that's amazing. Well, hey, since we're talking about UNC, University of North Carolina, there's another standout that would actually follow in, I'll say it this way, Al's footsteps. So Al's a senior, graduates, gets drafted in the NBA in the first round, and then some guy comes in as a freshman, and Al had recently told me, I think all four started, he was the only one that graduated, right? I think he said all four starters came back, so it left an opening, and there's a guy that went on to have a decent career in college as well as the NBA, right? Well, what was his, and you know him pretty well too, Randy. Yeah, we knew him as the GOAT back then, a neat story, I'll tell you. It was Michael Jordan, but here's a neat story. I don't even know if you know this part about my story, but I grew up with a guy named Buzz Peterson here in Asheville. Buzz beat me every day in the backyard in basketball. He was better than me, so at 16 years of age, I was 16, Buzz was 17, we went off to Chapel Hill to Dean Smith's basketball camp. Now Al was just playing there then, and we would watch those guys play pickup ball in the afternoons after our camp sessions in the morning, and we checked into our dorm room there at Granville Towers, and I tell young people and adults, there was two African American guys in the room beside of me, and my best friend Buzz Peterson, the guy I just mentioned, we were in the same room, and a guy knocks on the door, 17 years old, big smile, athletic, about six foot three, six four, sticks his hand out and says, I want to introduce myself to you guys, I'm Mike Jordan. Well, Mike Jordan and I got on the same team. He is now known as Michael Jordan, but we got on the same team that week when I was going to be a junior in high school. He was going to be a senior.
He and his best friend were at Wilmington Laney in Wilmington, North Carolina. Buzz and I were at Asheville High, but it goes even a little deeper. Coach Smith was a good recruiter, so he had purposely put, they didn't know me, they had put Buzz and his roommate, which happened to be me, and Michael and his roommate, which happened to be a guy named Leroy Smith.
They put us in the same suite because they wanted Buzz and Michael to meet because they were recruiting both of them. Ironically, not a lot of people know this, unless they've been in basketball for 45 years. Buzz and Michael, we all, they became better friends than I did with Michael, but Buzz and Michael became friends that week and later decided, we're going to go play at the same school. So they were roommates their freshman year at North Carolina when they won the national championship. I had my senior year of high school that year, and I wasn't good enough to play at North Carolina, so I took a scholarship to UNC Asheville, but I would go down on the weekends and hang out with those guys and sleep in their dorm room floor many times that we could, I could tell you stories the rest of the day about Mike Jordan back in the day. And then he hit the shot against Georgetown to win the national championship in 82, and the rest is history as far as he goes. And Buzz went into coaching. Now Buzz works for Michael as assistant general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, so they've been friends that long, and I've been blessed by their friendship and been sharing Christ with Mike for 40 years. Yeah, and I know Al's told me some stories as well, and it's like, you know, he's like, Al, I'll play golf with you, but just don't talk to me about Jesus, right?
Yeah, I've heard the stories, I know that, right? So yeah, so one day, one day, MJ is going to make that decision. One day, if he hadn't already, he's going to make that decision.
I believe it, brother. I've sat down with him probably 10 times in 40 years. I've given him bibles, I've given him tracts, I've given him books. When his daddy died, I gave him a tape by Dr. Adrian Rogers called Five Minutes After Death, and just praying for him every day. God doesn't need Michael, but he definitely could use him, and I know he loves him.
Yeah, absolutely. No question about that, as he does all of us, and so let me ask you this. So, you know, you've mentioned the name Crossfire Ministries, and so what, Randy, at what point, okay, at what point did, so two-part question, maybe. At what point did you transition into ministry, but even leading into that, or first maybe answer, at what point did you, I guess, you know, some would say, you know, I've had the call of God on my life, or at what point did, at what point did that have, like, like were you raised in church? Did you, you know, how did that happen for you, that, that journey for you to bring you to the foot of the cross, and then realize, hey, this is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life?
Yes, sir, Nikita, great question. I was raised in church, got saved, was born again, repented of my sin, put my faith in Christ as a nine-year-old boy, went to Christian schools through the ninth grade, and then I changed over to public schools because of basketball, and unfortunately, I got off the path in high school and first couple years of college. I was going to church on Sunday, but I was looking at my watch thinking, when is he going to wrap this up?
I got to get home and play basketball. I prayed on game day when I need my shots to go in, on the, on test day when I need to do good on a test, but I wasn't sold out to the Lord Nikita, and I regret that, made some mistakes that we don't have time to talk about at this point, but I got off the path, and God used an injury my junior year, which brings Jamie, my current ministry partner, into it. He was the son of a preacher, and Jamie was that guy that didn't get off the path as a preacher's son, so he was living for the Lord, and we would play a lot of pickup ball here in Asheville. He went to Gardner Webb to play. I went to UNC Asheville, and those first couple years, and in high school, we played a lot of pickup, but I didn't hang out with him because he was walking with Jesus, and I what? And those of us that know the walk of the Lord, if you're not walking with the Lord and you get around those that are, it makes you feel uncomfortable.
You feel convicted because you know where you need to be. Right, right. So I used an injury my junior year at UNC Asheville. I got sucker punched kind of into your sport in a ball game against Gardner Webb, and I was kind of semi-out of it for a minute or two, and when I came to, the team doctor wouldn't let me go back in the game. He said, no, you've had a hit to the head.
You've got to be checked out, and I was a competitor like you. I wanted to win, and so I couldn't go back in the game, but two days, three days after that, Nikita, I got done on my knees in my dorm room, and all that I knew about the Lord and the teaching I'd had and Sunday school and the Christian school just flooded back into my life, and I knew I got to get right with Jesus. I wasn't confident that I really meant it when I was nine, but I thought I did, but as a 19-year-old in my dorm room on my knees at UNC Asheville, I said, Lord, if I didn't mean that at nine, I mean it now, and I want to know that I know that my sins are forgiven, that you're in my life, and then about a year or two after that, God, I began to get discipled, and I began to get a burden for the lost, and God gave me a burden.
Nikita, many people admire it. I give the praise and honor to God. It's a special gift, I believe, but I, as you said at the conference, I probably witnessed to a stop sign, or maybe Al said that, and I just have a burden for people, and so I began to do that, and then I began to feel like, man, nothing else is going to satisfy me, so I called Michael Jordan. He was with the Bulls, and there was a six-foot-four-and-under pro team starting in Chicago. It wasn't the Bulls, but it was a six-foot-four-and-under team. I'm six-three, so I said, Michael, can you get me drafted by this team? It's a new league.
He said, absolutely. He said, my brother's going to be getting drafted. I'm getting my brother drafted, and they were kind of billing Larry as a baby Air Jordan, but he got me drafted, which was really a miracle. They didn't draft the guys from UNC Asheville. They drafted the guys from Carolina, UCLA, Kentucky, Duke, but I went to Chicago, 45 of us, trying out for 10 positions. I made it through two or three cuts, made it down to about the last 25 players in the summer of 1988, and I got called to mid-court along with about 10 other players, and the coach said in a nice way, thank you for coming.
We can't use your services. Here's your plane ticket to get home, and I tell young people and adults now, God forbid people get cut from marriages, churches run their pastors off, athletes get cut from ball teams every day, and what's number one in your life is going to be what you hold on to. And Christ was number one in my life at that point. I'd been praying about my future, and I really thought I was going to make that team, because it was going to be a good platform to share Christ, but God had another plan. Walking out of the gym that day, the guy walking beside of me, I hadn't talked to him the entire week, but I felt an impression. I'm supposed to talk to this guy. So I said to him, have you ever played in Europe?
Have you ever played overseas? And he said, no, but I'm a born-again Christian. I said, well, me too. And he said, I played for a team in Memphis, Tennessee called the Spirit Express. So I got the coach's name and number, I flew back to Asheville, called the coach, and he said, Randy, we're praying for staff members and players at your position. We'll pray about having you down for an interview.
So they did. They offered me a position. I went into full-time ministry, got to sit under the teaching of Dr. Adrian Rogers there for four years as we traveled out of Memphis, and then God called me and Jamie to start Crossfire in 1993, and we moved back to Asheville, and we started Crossfire. So that's kind of a cliff note of how it all happened, but I did receive that calling. I had a burden for the lost.
It felt like, hey, I'm not going to be able to do anything more in life that's going to satisfy me than being in ministry and being an evangelist, a missionary, and sharing Jesus. So glory to God, brother. That's the story. Yeah. And it's a fascinating story.
And... You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. If you would like to support Kolah for Christ Ministries, for a gift of $25, Nikita will send you his two CDs, Adoration and Declaration. For a gift of $50, Nikita will include his book, Wrestling with Success. And for a gift of $100 or more, Nikita will include a signed copy of his newly updated life story, A Tale of the Ring and Redemption.
Go to www.kolah.net and donate today. Nikita Kolah here, and I am excited. Did you hear the huge announcement, the big announcement? Well, maybe it's a minor announcement.
Anyway, Facebook, go look up my new fan page, Nikita Kolah Fans, and like it and follow today. You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. And what amazes me, Randy, and I think it maybe, I don't know if it was me or Al, said you a witness to a stop sign.
That part is very, very true. I'm blowing away. I'm like, oh my gosh. And when I follow you on social media, all the different posts and things that you put up on social media, in addition to Crossfire Ministries, you know, I know you've been a chaplain to the Olympics, a number of different Olympics, but who are, and this is not, you know, I'm asking this question only for the purpose of people to understand just how bold you are in your witness and how you, whether it's a Michael Jordan or anyone else, you're not afraid to share your faith and the plan of salvation with somebody. What are some other names that people might recognize that you have witnessed to and or shared the plan of salvation with?
Yes, sir. And like you just said, the wino that I'm looking at here on the corner in Asheville is just as important as these guys, but we've got to be faithful to share with who God wants us to share with. But I had the opportunity to share with President Barack Obama. He and I, for about five minutes when he came to Asheville, when he was president, it was a God thing, a totally God story. Tell about that another time.
But President Bill Clinton, Michael, of course, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal, on and on. But as you just said, a kid in Africa or a wino that's struggling with alcohol is just as important, but I feel like we need to be faithful to who witness to God puts in front of us. And as you know, one of the questions I'm going to ask you later on your program, I'll share it with you later, but lots of people are afraid to witness to the Nikita Kolos when you were in your prime, or a Michael Jordan, or a Barack Obama. They're intimidated, but I went through a deep depression. I didn't mention it earlier as part of my testimony, and when God brought me through it, I realized that all these people need Jesus from the White House to our house, and it's our responsibility as God gives us opportunities to plant those seeds.
Now I never saw one of those, a few big names I've seen that have prayed me to receive Christ, but most of them were just planting seeds, and some plant, some water, and God gives the increase. Yeah, for sure. And I appreciate you sharing that part of your story as well. And you said from the White House to our house to, I'm even thinking to the outhouse, right? Anybody and everybody. Yeah, I was going to say that, but I held back. Well, I will, I'll say it.
So, but anybody and everybody. And I know in ministering at several Olympics, I believe you were in London, you were in Rio. We were actually supposed to be together in 2020 in Japan at the Olympics in Japan.
It would have been my first return to Japan since wrestling there in 1986, but that got postponed and delayed. But let me ask you this. So Crossfire Ministries, and obviously if people haven't picked up on it, basketball is really kind of the way that you reach a lot of these individuals. In fact, we had you do a little, Al had you do a little short demonstration at our Man Up Conference.
And I mean, you're spinning the basketball on a toothbrush, you're spinning it on an old flip phone, and it's just amazing how you utilize the basketball to gain attention. And I know you do things like, so tell us real quick, you know, before we run out of time, like what all Crossfire, I mean, school assemblies, right? What all do you guys do?
Yes, sir. Jamie Johnson, who is the best ministry partner in the world, he's like a pastor, evangelist, we've complemented each other, been together 30 years, so you know that's an accomplishment. But we do a basketball camp in the summer, started out as just a dream, we've had 24,000 young people come through the camp. This summer there were 1,030 kids in camp, we speak in school assemblies, we preach in churches, youth rallies, prisons, rescue missions, been to 68 countries, 47 states, we'll share if God opens a door in a restaurant, a barber shop, on the corner. The ball is the tool, but I don't need a ball, I'm getting older so I don't play as much, but I love to preach, the ball is just a great tool. But we do center around basketball, and as you know, wrestling, football, basketball, sports, and music are the top two things in the world, and people will come to a former sporting, former worldwide wrestler like yourself, to a basketball event, to a camp, athletic camp that might not come to church, and then you can reach them there, and obviously like you would say as an evangelist, we don't replace the church, we want to get them in a Bible-believing church after they make a decision, or after seeds are planted, so they can grow in their relationship with the Lord. But obviously, Nikita, you know, we've got to go to the people and reach them where they're at. That's why your conferences are so great, when you go speak as a former worldwide wrestling champ at a school, that gets those kids attention. Spending that silly ball on a toothbrush, a spoon, a cell phone, having played ball with Michael Jordan in high school gets kids attention, and then we give them the real truth, is how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
So we're doing the same thing, just two different tools. Well, and I know you have made a tremendous impact for the Kingdom, and there's no telling, you know, how many, and I know your heart and your motivation for why you're doing what you're doing, but there's no telling how many lives, how many people will be in heaven because of your boldness and your willingness to go out and do that. If somebody out there, there's a pastor out there, or a school, or a superintendent, or someone out there that wanted to learn more about Crossfire. What's the website, Randy?
Where would they go to find out more about Crossfire? Yes, sir, and I'm preaching about 30 Sundays out of the year, different topics, but a pastor could use me to come in and challenge his church on evangelism or a conference, but they can go to our website, crossfireministry.com, crossfireministry.com, or the ministry number is 828-2559-111, and we would love to come, and we're a little different than some ministries being single. We go by faith, and we don't have a set fee that we have to go, and God's never failed us in 30 years, so we're available wherever, big or small, we'll go, buddy, and just thankful to be called to be a part of God's army. That's amazing, and you're doing amazing work, and hey, I've got to know before we go, 47 states, what three states have you not been to, Randy? I've been asked that a few times, I think I finally figured it out. Montana is one, North Dakota, we were just in South Dakota with the Gram organization this summer doing camps, and then I think maybe Vermont, so those three states, if you're listening in one of those states, hey, I'd love to come.
Come on, North Dakota, Montana, Vermont. Dave, you're listening out there, go to CrossfireMinistries.com, right? CrossfireMinistries.com. It's actually ministry singular. When we got the website, ministries was taken, so it's CrossfireMinistry.com is our website, although we call the ministry Crossfire Ministries, but the website is CrossfireMinistrySingle.com. Well, I can vouch for and say that if you have Randy and his team in, you and your audience is going to be blessed, and so please consider that. Taking basketball to a whole other level is what you've done, Randy, and it's fun to follow you.
Hey, also, where can they follow you on social media? Same thing? Right, I have my personal page, which is Randy Shepherd on Facebook, and then we have our Crossfire Ministry singular page on Facebook, and then Instagram is Randy Shepherd Crossfire.
My name, Randy Shepherd. It's spelled like the one in the Bible. I'm blessed to have it spelled like that.
Some people spell it different ways, but S-H-E-P-H-E-R-D, and sure, I would love to connect with anybody that wants to. Well, and I encourage you to jump on and follow him there on social media as well. You get first-hand view, bird's eye view, you might say, of the impact Randy and his team is making, and so grateful to have you on the show today, Randy.
Thank you. Well, Nikita, what an honor it is for me to be here, and I echo everything, the people that are listening. I've heard Nikita. If you haven't heard him, you've just heard the podcast, you need to have him in person.
You get a double blessing when you have him in person, so thank God for you, Nikita, and how God is using you as well, buddy. Well, we're just fishers of men, aren't we, Randy? Lots of different baits, whether it's basketball, wrestling, football, like you said, or just those who are walking in an everyday life.
If you're out there and maybe you've never been in athletics, or you haven't spun a basketball in your finger, or given someone a headlock on an armbar, that's okay. You know what? God is just looking for faithful vessels to work through, so no matter what, you can be a stay-at- home mom, you can be a plumber, electrician, a dentist, a doctor, a lawyer, in any walk of life, and so just take what you've heard today from Summer of Randy's story and impact your world for the Kingdom of God. Thanks for tuning in today on The Man Up Show. Until next time, God bless you. This podcast is made possible by the grace of God and your faithful prayers, support, and generous gifts.
May God bless you for your continual contributions. Go to Koloff.net and donate today. Hi, Nikita Koloff.
Be sure to check out The Man Up Show, now available on television, broadcast, and podcast. Go to MorningStarTV.com or the Truth Radio Network. Check out your local listings or better yet, download the Truth Network app today. Nikita Koloff here.
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