by ROBERT WILSON
Keith Williams gave high school football fans plenty of excitement on Friday nights this fall when he became as a key player on Madison Central’s football team. The senior wide receiver set a school record for receiving yards and helped the Jaguars to the Class 6A semifinals. He is recognized as one of best receivers in Mississippi.
But more importantly, Williams is making an eternal difference by telling students about Jesus Christ on Friday mornings in his role as the president of Madison Central’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I take my role very seriously because I am in position to change lives through FCA,” Williams said. “We started off the year without many students coming to FCA, but I am proud to say that we have more than 100 coming now. It’s great. We have guest speakers, divide into small groups, give devotions, and hopefully give encouragement to the ones who come and show them that Christ loves them all the time. I have students who come to our meetings who will stop me in the hall and talk about their problems with me and get advice. It’s a great honor to hold this position.”
Williams’ journey is definitely an interesting one. Similar to the book and movie The Blind Side—about Michael Oher being adopted by a family and his success story at Ole Miss and now the NFL—Williams was adopted by Michelle and Tim Ellison six years ago when Williams was in middle school.
Williams grew up in West Jackson and became involved in Calvary Baptist Church through Minister of Missions Linda Smith.
“I met Keith when he was about four,” Smith said. “You can imagine Keith’s smile on a four year old. He was this beautiful kid with this great personality that made it easy to fall in love with him. As a kid, he loved to do front and back flips. He could do them one after another all the way down the street. He was so athletic even as a kid. The area that he grew up in was just rough.”
The Ellisons became close to Williams when Tim coached him in the Metro Jackson church basketball league when Williams was in elementary school. Williams accepted Christ, was baptized and joined Calvary when he was 12 years old.
“We fell in love with him,” Michelle said. “And he latched onto us. Tim believed it was crucial to get him out of the situation he was in or he would be a possible dropout at some point. We saw a lot of potential in Keith even at a young age. We asked God to show us a way if He wanted us to take Keith out of the situation he was in.”
God did. Keith’s mother (Barbara Bailey) agreed to allow the Ellisons to adopt him. Williams still has a close relationship with his mother.
“Keith wanted to live with Ellisons and by God’s grace and some friend’s legal help, the Ellisons and Keith became a family,” Smith said. “It took courage on both of their parts. Keith left everything he had ever known. The Ellisons became parents of a teenager. They are an amazing family. They have a deep love and respect for each other. And they have a lot of fun. They are gifts to each other. I am so proud of the man that Keith has become. He is kind, thoughtful, respectful, and happy. He has accomplished many great things on the football field. However, his great accomplishment is his passion to live out his faith in Jesus in the classroom, on the football field, and with his friends.”
Michelle and Smith’s relationship spans more than three decades. Smith was Michelle’s youth minister when she was a senior in high school at First Baptist Church in Summit. They’ve been close ever since. Michelle became involved in Calvary’s community missions program called HIS Heart in 1998. Michelle met Tim in 2004 and Smith married them in 2005. Michelle didn’t have any children and Tim’s were adults. Williams was legally adopted by the Ellisons in the fall of his seventh grade year, near his 13th birthday. The Ellisons and Williams moved to Madison after his eighth grade year and he attended Rosa Scott and now Madison Central. Tim coaches cross country and track and field at Madison Central and teaches eighth grade English at Madison Middle School. The Ellisons and Williams are now members of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison.
“Keith is a wonderful child,” Madison Central football coach Bobby Hall said. “He played a great year for us, but the story isn’t about Keith Williams the football player, it is about Keith Williams the person. He is a tremendous person and a devout Christian. He doesn’t force his faith on you, but he isn’t ashamed of it either. I have met very few people in my life who never have a bad day. Keith is of them. He always has a smile on his face.”
Williams isn’t sure about his college choice yet, but he knows one thing. “I want to be involved in the FCA wherever I go,” Williams said. “I want to tell people about Christ and what He has done for me.
“Keith wants to play college football and become a policeman,” Smith said. “I am prayerful those dreams can come true. I am confident that whatever path God lays down before Keith that God will use him in a great way to impact the Kingdom. It has been a great joy to witness his life unfold into a godly young man that will impact the world.”
Robert Wilson is Business Developer for BFAC . He is a freelance writer, author, and the publisher of Victories in Metro Jackson magazine. He is a member of Broadmoor Baptist Church. Contact him at Robert@bfac.com.