After Gauntlet, my life was never the same
Quinn Jones’ love for Gauntlet is all about paying it forward.
Gauntlet 2017 is the fifth-year straight he’s agreed to — no, jumped at — the chance to lead a room of students at the Fuse summer camp at Daytona Beach.
To go, he’s taking days off work at Chick Fil A in Greenwood. But it’s no biggie. He knows Gauntlet is a priceless experience. There’s simply no competition for his time. Period.
Quinn prays all year that Gauntlet week will be as life-changing for his boys as it was for him.
He’s all about “pouring into them, and doing all I can to share Jesus and seeing them finally understand,” he says.
Quinn Celebrating with Nick, left, and PJ, right, who both met Jesus and took their next step in baptism at Gauntlet 2016.
A Life-changing Realization
When Quinn first went to Gauntlet in 2010, he was dealing with a teenager’s typical struggles.
Peer pressure. Popularity. Ego.
As a college-recruited high school basketball star, the battles he faced were only harder.
And those five distraction-free days at the beach changed everything.
“Gauntlet was a pivotal moment,” he says. “I saw what it took to follow Jesus and what it looked like to follow Jesus.”
Thanks to Quinn’s grandmother, the rock in his family, he knew Jesus. At age 10, he remembers sitting on the front porch as she led him in prayer to ask Jesus into his life.
“She was confident and out loud and bold about her faith and walk,” he says.
Quinn was a good kid. He grew up in church. He didn’t have a bad attitude. He didn’t get into trouble or fight.
But Gauntlet revealed to him that his relationship with Jesus wasn’t on a personal level.
“Gauntlet is one of those places where it’s hard to deny the Lord breaks down so many walls,” he says.
Quinn, third from left, hanging out with his friends and fellow Gauntlet leaders on the beach at Daytona.
A Bold Step
Gripped by that realization, he chose to get baptized along with hundreds of other students that week who committed to following Jesus.
He wanted his faith to be public. Bold. Unafraid. Heart and soul.
Getting baptized in front of thousands was a big deal. Quinn passed up or refused baptism many times at the small church of 50 he attended growing up.
The Gauntlet experience, “helped me realize why you should be OK with people watching you follow Jesus and what it represents,” Quinn says. “Not worrying about outside opinions, but knowing and trusting what God has for me is best, regardless of what other people think.”
Quinn with his mom after she cheered him on at a basketball game at Southern Wesleyan University.
A Clutch Relationship
Being part of the Fuse and NewSpring community helped him stay focused in high school and shaped his character.
The support he found serving as a Fuse sports volunteer, beginning in 2013, also helped him respond to the challenges of dropping out of Southern Wesleyan University after two years.
Then, when Quinn decided to move to Greenwood in 2015 to prepare to finish a degree in business management at Lander University, his faith shifted to a new level.
He was able to get closer to a longtime friend, Devin, also a basketball player who had given up hoop dreams. The relationship was instrumental in spurring Quinn to take his call to ministry more seriously.
Gauntlet was critical to preparing Quinn spiritually for life after basketball.
A Burden For Others
Quinn got more intentional — and involved — in serving, eventually leading Fuse guest services at NewSpring Greenwood, where Devin is Fuse pastor. He also serves in KidSpring and at Connect.
Quinn says he has a burden for wasted lives and wasted talent.
“I’ve seen so many people waste talent because they didn’t have anybody to shape character,” he says.
Quinn has a vision to incorporate ministry into sports training, possibly in his own sports facility, helping people of all ages develop at a sport they like.
“The only reason to be great at anything is to draw glory to the Lord,” he says.
Quinn with best friend Devin, who has helped encourage him in ministry.
A Gauntlet Legacy
From his own experience, Quinn understands Gauntlet carries a long legacy.
And that’s what makes it so exciting.
Every year, Quinn's had opportunities “to see these students I’ve known and prayed for meet Jesus, and to see how the Lord can come through on my prayers for them,” he says. “I’ve had students I’ve had in my room serving other students now. Now they’re leading students. It’s amazing to see both sides of it.”