Caleb Klassen’s life changed after his first two years at Briercrest.
He became a Christian.
KIassen initially came to Briercrest to play basketball. Stan Peters recruited him from high school to play basketball for Trinity Western University before he became the athletic director at Briercrest. Klassen followed Peters to Briercrest. After his second year Klassen returned back home to Abbotsford, B.C. to take a year off to work.
“I had publically professed to be a Christian (before that) but there was no act of following,” he explained. “I was at a point where I was so addicted to the selfish nature of the flesh—my spirit was crying out for some help and I think that’s where the Lord met me.”
The words of a friend put Klassen back on the right path.
“One of my good friends, who is actually really quiet, rebuked me,” he said. “I had never really had a rebuking in my life. I was caught off guard and that’s where it really started. I have a strong personality and didn’t really listen to a lot of the wisdom that was in my life. I got struck by my own sinfulness and God’s holiness all at the same time.”
Klassen says that like the apostle Paul, he too had “scales removed from his eyes.” Scripture passages he had heard as a child growing up in a Christian home were now coming to life for him.
“Over and over again in the gospels I would hear this call to pick up your cross and follow Him,” Klassen said. “I just started to realize what it looked like to be a disciple and how I was deceived.”
He began to get clarity for God’s calling on his life.
“I felt like He was leading me and calling me into ministry,” he said.
Klassen took some of his first steps in ministry by leading a Bible study for the rest of the year.
“Even though I grew up in a Christian home I felt so immature in my faith,” he admitted. “I got to walk through that with 10 other guys and learn from other men of faith like my pastor and my dad.”
In becoming clearer about his calling, Klassen felt God leading him back to Briercrest, but he knew financially he couldn’t afford to come. He phoned Briercrest and left a message for Rod Adrian, Briercrest’s new basketball coach.
“(I said) ‘Hey, I don’t know if you know who I am,” he recounted. “I used to play on the team and I know that financially I probably won’t be able to come here if I can’t play on the team.’ He phoned me back and said, ‘Yeah, we have (a scholarship) for you . . . I welcome you back.’”
Klassen returned to the team as a changed man. Stan Peters noticed the difference.
“I have seen a big change in Caleb’s life,” he said. “He has changed from being focused on himself to focusing on others – he is reaching out to teammates – he is serious about his studies – he is taking responsibility for his actions. It is obvious that his faith in Jesus is working into his relationships on the court and off the court.”
Coach Adrian enjoyed Klassen’s contribution to this year’s team.
“Caleb, from the start of the recruitment process to the completion of this school year took on a different approach to his previous experience at Briercrest,” he said. “Right from the beginning he expressed a strong desire to develop and grow his relationship with God, and he quickly became a spiritual leader on the team. He is a gifted athlete and is quite possibly the fastest player that I have coached. I have been grateful to be his coach and I look forward to working with him again next year.”
Klassen says he and his teammates share a common purpose to have their actions be “a testament for Christ.”
“That was different from my first two years here,” he admitted. “That’s not something I had pursued or understood or had a passion for.”
Another passion Klassen is pursuing is his biblical studies degree.
“I’ve been able to study the entire New Testament this year . . . as well as I’m in Greek,” he said. “There’s so much fruit from just going through the Scriptures.”
Klassen has been marked by his study of Scripture – literally. He is recognized on the basketball court by his tattoos. The large on his upper arm is a passage from Revelation 4 written in Greek.
“It’s John’s vision of the throne of God—a testament to God’s holiness,” Klassen explained. “It really wrecked me and brought me to my knees.”
Another tattoo on Klassen’s forearm is an excerpt from St. Patrick’s breast plate prayer. He admits that limiting the tattoo to just a stanza of the prayer was difficult.
“I exercised a lot of self-control with this one,” he said. “This (stanza) to me summarizes what his prayer is about. This is the mark of a disciple. It should be my testament as well.”
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”