'JESUS WON' and so did Evan Carter

Little did Evan Carter know that when he pulled on a blue t-shirt with the simple statement 'JESUS WON' when he first came up to Spring Training with the Texas Rangers that on November 29, 2023 that he would be standing in the Commons Area at Elizabethton High School, his alma mater, carrying two checks that are going to make a major impact on the community where he grew up because of that shirt.
But that was exactly what happened a little over 50 days from the time that the shirt began to be sold all over the country, even reaching Hawaii, as Evan and Kaylen Carter stood before members of the media, family, the EHS baseball team, church family, and God to present checks of $35,000 each to the Central Community Christian Church and the FCA/EHS baseball team - donations that came as a result of the sale of the shirts.
According to Evan, it was Kaylen's idea to use the sale of the shirts as a fundraiser.
"I appreciate everyone coming out today," Evan said. "I just want to give a little background on how these shirts came about. When I first saw them was in Spring Training this year. We met with a FCA leader who was leading our Sunday chapel for everyone on the ball team that wanted to come out. It started as just a small group of us and it just began to grow and the next thing you know we had these t-shirts and it just starts spreading throughout the whole organization and people who had never really been a part of the Christian faith started to ask questions about the shirts and it was just a great opportunity for us to share our faith.
"We wore them throughout the year in Double-A and Triple-A  and then we got to the big leagues, and I didn't mean anything about it or I wasn't trying to make a big deal about it but I always wore the shirt and it began to blow up on social media and Kaylen was getting all kinds of messages about people wanting to buy the shirts so she was the one that came up with the idea of selling the shirts as a fundraiser and we ended up getting hooked up with the FCA in Arizona and here we are now. It's neem an incredible journey and I am super thankful for everyone here and all the people across the country who have supported our efforts. What we are going to get to do for this community is going to be amazing and I am not going to spoil it for anybody."
The shirts weren't something that just hit the market as they had been circulating for about eight years before the Carter's made the shirt explode in popularity.
Matt Palmer with the Arizona FCA came in to be a part of the check presentations to see just how the shirts had impacted a small rural community in Northeast Tennessee.
"We are grateful that we are a small little piece of this puzzle," said Palmer. "We have been making these Jesus Won shirts in Arizona for about eight years now and we give them out to coaches and athletes with the goal of putting a conversation starter on a t-shirt. We had an idea of putting the team colors on the shirts and God does what only God can do through a t-shirt to bring us here today. This  whole thing has been straight out of Ephesians 3:20 that talks about where God can do immeasurably more than what we can ever ask or imagine through the power of His spirit that works within us. It's a God thing 100 percent. It's been a blessing."
The first check presentation was to Central Cares, a ministry of the Central Community Christian Church where Evan and Kaylen and their families attend. It was breathtaking to see an amount of $35,000 on the check.
Billy Murphy, associate/outreach minister, shared the story about learning what the Carter's had in mind.
"During the playoff run, I am working at the golf course and I get a call from Evan and he was like hey, I want to run something by you and in the background I hear batting practice going on and I am like he is getting ready for the post season and he called me," said Murphy. "He said, "Hey Kaylen has an idea we want to run by you and help what we do at the church." And what we do at the church is what we call Central Cares and that is where we partner with the TLC Center in the summer to feed 70-some kids five hot meals a week and some other food and we just did a Thanksgiving meal for everyone and they (Carters) got to go with us last week. They have a heart to serve people and if you know their family it won't surprise you.
"We are beyond thankful and can't wait to put this in the Lord's hands to see how he blesses our community."
A second check then was presented to the Elizabethton FCA/baseball team in the amount of $35,000 that will be used to help complete an indoor facility to be used by the community.
The checks came as a result of 6,623 shirts being sold since October 7, 2023.
"Those numbers gave me chills," said Cyclone baseball head coach Ryan Presnell. "Sports for everybody sitting up front is more than wins and losses. It's about something bigger than ourselves. I am looking forward to hitting the road running and get this facility built."