Nationally known motivational speaker Chad Varga will be in Clark County several times in the next couple of months bringing inspirational messages to churches and to the youth of the community.
The Clark Christian Drug Coalition is sponsoring Varga’s appearances as part of its efforts to combat the growing drug abuse problem, especially among young people.
Varga knows first-hand the devastating affects drugs can have on a family.
He grew up in Detroit in a single-parent home where he watched his mother regularly abuse alcohol and drugs. The only escape he found from his troubled homelife was basketball, which he used to earn a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh.
At Pittsburg he excelled, becoming a team captain and earning All Big East Team honors. After graduation, he was invited to play for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, but an injury prior to training camp ended that dream. Varga eventually signed to play professionally in Spain, where he was selected to play in the league’s All Star game both years he played in the league.
But in 1999, at the age of 25 and at the peak of his professional career, Varga said he began to feel there was a different purpose for his life than just shooting jump shots and dunking a basketball.
With a multi-million dollar contract on the table waiting to be signed, Varga made the decision to give up what he had worked toward for his whole life so he could do something that would make a difference in the lives of other people.
In 2000, he founded InspireNow Inc. out of a desire to invest his life in helping youth around the country through character education.
InspireNow’s core belief is that character development, a commitment to excellence and personal responsibility are the building blocks for children to achieve their fullest potential.
Varga works with educators and students nationwide to create safer and more positive learning environments through quality school assemblies and character programs.
Clark Christian Drug Coalition president Steve Humble, who also pastors the Winchester Covenant Church, said he came away impressed with Varga’s work after the two were introduced by a friend last year while Varga was speaking at an event in Breathitt County.
After speaking to students at the high school in Breathitt County, Varga invited the students to come to another meeting the following Wednesday night, and more than 2,500 showed up. Humble said that’s when he thought the drug coalition needed to bring Varga to Clark County.
“Those kids poured out their stories on his Facebook page, just amazing stuff. Obviously what he said went right to their heart. So the CDC board talked about it with some local pastors, and we just thought it was imperative to try to have him here,” Humble said. “The neat thing is that, yes he’s educating them, but this is a generation where a lot of them don’t have any reason to hope or have a sense of purpose.
So, he also stimulates a hope in the fact that they can make choices that will make a difference in their lives, and for a lot of kids, that’s a big thing.”
Varga will make his first appearance in Winchester on March 25 at Central Baptist Church, then return April 22 to speak at Church of the Living God and May 6 at Calvary Christian Church. He will speak March 27 to students at George Rogers Clark High School and March 29 to students at Conkwright and Clark Middle schools.
When speaking at the schools, Varga’s messages are centered on character development and personal responsibility, Humble said, but at the Wednesday night meetings at local churches, Varga gets an opportunity to share his spiritual journey.
“What Chad does in the schools is very important, but on Wednesdays, the kids get an opportunity to get the power of God involved in it,” Humble said. “As a Christian and a pastor, I believe, obviously, that their real hope and real change comes from getting right and connected with the creator and finding his purpose in their lives.”
Statistics show Clark County’s drug problem is getting worse each year and devastating the lives of families throughout the community. Last year, there were 20 overdose deaths in the county and more than 20 other overdose cases where individuals were treated at the hospital and survived.
Humble said the drug coalition feels it is imperative to reach out to young people and get them some support before it’s too late.
“My heart is to see young people have a chance to have a real life and get some healing from some of the background they have and come to hope,” Humble said. “We don’t want to take the place of their parents, we want to reach their parents, too, but so many kids are coming up on their own without any guidance. We’ve got to get to kids where they are and help them find a sense of purpose not to destroy their lives before they get a chance to live them.”
Humble said the CCDC will be having training sessions in coming weeks for church and community members to provide follow-up with the students who come to Varga’s meetings.
Going out and following up with the students afterward is vital, Humble said.
“The key issue is the follow-up. They have an emotional response, it’s powerful and can be an important moment in their lives, but if we don’t follow-up and build relationships with them, it won’t work,” Humble said. “Jesus didn’t do most of his ministry in a synagogue or church, he was out among the people. We’ve got to change our mentality and meet them where they are and try to build relationships, and if those are good, those kids will probably end up in church. But we have to reach out and meet them where they are to make a difference. If we don’t reach these kids, we are in serious trouble.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.