Kim Crabtree

A move across the country and a new church community helped Kim realize the truth of the gospel for the first time, changing her perspective on what it means to live as a Christian.

Topics: The Gospel | Grace | Sports

Growing up in Cleburne, Texas, Kim had an ideal childhood. Living in a small town, where most of her neighbors were family and friends, she was taught right from wrong, honesty, integrity and the value of hard work from a young age. Kim grew up in a kind and welcoming home, where her parents provided a stable and loving environment for her and her older brother.

Kim learned a lot about loving the Lord from her grandparents. They were hard-working dairy farmers who enjoyed reading their Bibles, having fellowship with friends and faithfully serving in their small-town church. “My first picture of Christian community, what it meant to really love others, was through Mema and Papa,” Kim said. She admired their devotion and saw the blessings that could come with a simple life of obedience.  

As part of the local church’s doctrine, Kim was taught that baptism was necessary for salvation and believed it was the right thing to do. After learning that her cousin was planning be baptized, Kim figured it was a good time to also take this next step. Kim’s uncle performed the baptism, surrounded by many of the people Kim knew in her small-town church. The experience gave Kim a sense of security, and she settled in the belief that she had pleased God.

The rest of Kim’s younger years were marked by basketball. “As soon as I could walk, I played basketball,” she said. Kim was a natural on the court and quickly became the Cleburne Yellow Jackets’ star point guard. She was an honorable mention, All-American, All-State and All-Conference standout and led her high school team to win the 1995 State Championship, so it was no surprise when the University of Texas recruited Kim to play for them.

While college seems to be the time in which irresponsibility reigns, Kim kept a level head. She didn’t spend time chasing some of the things that “normal” college students would, but she didn’t immerse herself in a cause or passionately pursue her beliefs either. She followed all the rules because that’s “what you were supposed to do.” She was a good athlete, a good student and a good friend.

“I was just trying to stay on God’s good side,” Kim said. “I knew that there was a way of life that marked a Christian, and I attempted to walk that with little knowledge or understanding of why.”

“I didn’t go to wild parties or clubs, but I certainly wasn’t evangelizing to my friends,” Kim said. She made sure to behave the way she thought a Christian ought to. She called on God during hard days and would read her Bible and pray when she felt like it.

“I was just trying to stay on God’s good side,” Kim said. “I knew that there was a way of life that marked a Christian, and I attempted to walk that with little knowledge or understanding of why. I was a rule-follower.” Kim bounced in and out of different Bible studies and churches without ever belonging to one place.

Things began to change her senior year of college when she met Scott. He was smart, funny, handsome and loved Jesus. Kim and Scott spent a few weeks getting acquainted before their first official date, and Scott proved to be more than just good-looking. He was honest, a hard worker and taught Sunday school at a local church. He was passionate about genuinely living a life for Christ; Scott was the “real deal.”

For the first time, Kim found her beliefs challenged. Scott had a deeper grasp of his beliefs and Scripture to back it up. Kim had been a good girl for 22 years, according to the traditions taught in both her church and home. All she knew were the rules. But the reasons for Jesus, she couldn’t tell you.

Scott continued to point Kim to the truth. He showed her verses and encouraged her to study the Bible for herself, praying that she would see the true intent of God’s Word. As her questions grew bigger, Kim began to wrestle with many of the beliefs and traditions she had accepted as a child. Before long, the only thing Kim felt sure of was that she needed a change. “As much as I loved my family, my college town and friends, I knew it was time to make a move forward with life.”

Much of her life had been about playing it safe, which included staying in close proximity to family and her comfort zone. But a career opportunity arose at The University of California-Irvine, and Kim left two good years with Scott, great friends and a family behind her. “I just needed a new place,” Kim said. “I wasn’t really certain what God was doing, but there was a pull in me to get away.” So, she loaded up her life and made her way to Newport Beach, California.

A new job, a long-distance relationship with Scott and time alone became Kim’s new norm. It was in those silent and quiet days in Orange County that grace made its grand entrance. On her way to the university bookstore, Kim was stopped by a student who asked if she had been to church and then invited her to one nearby. It just happened to be the denomination Kim had grown up attending.

“I had this a-ha moment,” Kim said, “and God seemed to say, ‘I am in this, and there is a purpose for you being here.’” 1,000 miles away from everything and everyone Kim knew, the Lord used the same church and doctrine she had left states away to draw her near to His truth for the first time.

Kim joined a small group at the church and began to regularly meet with other believers. “I heard the same words that were taught me as a child, but this time it was different,” Kim said. “The gospel became real.”

Kim exchanged faithful traditions for life-changing faith. She saw the Word as tangible, and not just life-saving, but life-changing. “For the first time, I really felt growth,” Kim said. She now knew that none of the rules and guidelines she’d worked so hard to follow could save her. Salvation came through Jesus Christ alone. It was as if Scripture she had read over and over suddenly burst with clarity.  

This was a season full of breakthroughs, not just in her relationship with the Lord, but also in her relationship with Scott. “Looking back, Scott and I can see now how God was answering prayers and aligning us in preparation for our eventual marriage and life together,” Kim said.

Scott and Kim married in 2001, and Scott joined Kim in Newport Beach. The Lord continued to use His people and His church in California to shape Kim. As her faith grew, Kim saw a change in her close relationships; she began to pursue others in light of the gospel. Eventually, the couple returned to Texas to raise their family and, through the suggestion of one of Kim’s old college recruits, started attending The Village Church.

Kim and Scott each joined separate women’s and men’s Bible studies, meeting regularly with other believers at the church. After a few semesters, Kim’s group leader, Jenn Potter, approached her about co-leading. “I think I responded with a strong ‘No,’” Kim said. “I did not think I was ready for that.”

“Each time we step on the court there is a teachable moment, in practice and games. Sports are not fair, and they are unpredictable, just like life.”

Jenn told Kim that she just needed someone to help point people back to Scripture and back to Christ when the study got derailed, so Kim reluctantly agreed to the role. A few months later, Kim found herself taking over the group when Jenn started a new one—a beautiful example of gospel-centered multiplication.

For the next several years, Kim had the chance to lead and live alongside women who loved God in a way that she’d never experienced. The group was faithful to meet, and God was faithful to move. Any fears and reservations Kim held in leading were quickly replaced by boldness in the Lord’s goodness—the goodness He had proven time and time again.

“What God did in those years with several of those groups of women was just so awesome. We saw seasons of disease, death, sadness, struggles and, ultimately, deeper faith. It reinforced to me that everything in life—where we live, where we work, all of our relationships and even our place in time—is all by His design. To this day, the friendships and the encouragement of watching these women cling to God is one of the sweetest gifts God has given me.”

Since then, Kim has modeled the Christian community she saw through her grandparents in her own life by actively walking with women and serving the church—all while raising four daughters with her husband. And recently, her basketball life came full circle through coaching, training and assisting her daughters’ teams.

“Each time we step on the court there is a teachable moment, in practice and games. Sports are not fair, and they are unpredictable, just like life.” She pours into others without reservation because God has been so patient and gracious in her life. Kim knows her worth is not in her accomplishments, her relationships or how well she mothers her girls, but rather, solely in Christ.

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