Donnie Prince has been following God’s lead ever since he first heard about Nathan Stiles 10 years ago.
Prince, a self-employed businessman and author from North Carolina, was in a gym when he happened to start watching a documentary about Nathan on ESPN.
“I know that God placed me right there at that time to show me Nathan’s Story,” Prince said.
He learned about how Nathan, a Spring Hill High School senior at the time, collapsed during a football game against Osawatomie in the fall of 2010 and later died at the hospital.
He was truly inspired by the story of Nathan’s fearless expression of his Christian faith, and how his family and friends used that as a springboard for a new Christian effort called The Nathan Project. The goal of the project is to bring more people to Christ by putting a Bible in their hands and encouraging them to sign up for a one-year Bible study class.
Prince believed God was compelling him to share Nathan’s story with even more people to help fuel The Nathan Project’s mission. So he reached out to the Stiles family and got their support of him writing a book about the subject.
But he never could have imagined just how many people he would meet whose lives have been changed thanks to the Bibles, and he didn’t realize just how much he would be personally impacted by writing the book.
“Writing the book has been a wonderful faith experience for me,” Prince said. “I have been so inspired by Nathan’s story and the Nathan Project ministry that began in his memory.”
The book is titled “Why Live for Anyone Other Than Jesus?” Nathan Stiles proudly posted those same words on his Facebook wall before his death.
The book goes beyond just Nathan’s story, as it also talks about how Bibles handed out through The Nathan Project have already had a positive impact on countless individuals.
Prince completed and published the book last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed his plans to travel and distribute books throughout the country.
It didn’t delay Ron Stiles, though, from sending 800 Bibles to Prince in North Carolina to distribute.
Ron, who is Nathan’s father and a former Miami County commissioner, has developed a strong relationship with Prince during the past few years.
At first, Prince didn’t know what to do with the Bibles, but God soon showed him just how much they were needed. After a few were given to friends, those friends told others, and before long he was handing out Bibles left and right.
Today, all of those 800 Bibles have been given away to people who need them.
Now, Prince is making up for lost time and traveling more to talk to people about Nathan and the book. He recently visited Miami County, where he spoke to crowds at the Over the Rainbow Community Garden and Whistle Stop Café in Osawatomie.
He and Ron also both visited the Johnson County Detention Center in Olathe.
“I have interviewed people who have gifted Bibles away in campus ministries, sports ministries, prison ministries, mission trips to Uganda, churches, youth detention centers, youth groups, and individuals, who have experienced the life changing power of the Gospel,” Prince said. “Their stories have shown me that there are opportunities to serve people in need across our communities. We only must take the time to look more closely, and we will find that God is working in our world, every day, all around us. And through the gift of a Bible, the Nathan Project is uniting people together. Living out the great commission of the church.”
Prince said God has been at the helm of his journey throughout the process, and there have been some extraordinary coincidences along the way that he believes are God moments.
When he first arrived in Kansas to begin preparing to write the book, he visited a restaurant in Olathe to gather his thoughts and prepare for a series of interviews with family and friends.
He was served by a young waiter who happened to notice his accent. The waiter asked where he was from, and Prince explained that he is from the East Coast and in town to write a book about Nathan Stiles.
The waiter shocked Prince by informing him that he went to school with Nathan Stiles, and he considered Nathan to be the nicest person he had ever met.
Shortly after Prince’s most recent visit to Kansas in July, he experienced a similar occurrence. He and his brother, Randy, went to a burger joint in Raleigh, N.C., and Donnie was talking about all of the amazing things that had happened on his trip.
A couple approached them and asked if they could sit at the same picnic table, and Donnie noticed the man was wearing a Kansas City Chiefs shirt.
“When I saw his shirt, I told him I had been in Kansas just the other day. He asked me why I was there. I told him I had written a book about Nathan Stiles and The Nathan Project ministry. He and his wife took a deep breath, then they told me that they had the book, and that he was a teacher at Spring Hill High School, and he works with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes there,” Donnie said. “It was amazing. Only God could make that happen.”
That Spring Hill couple was Andy and Stacy Shockley, and they agreed it was a special moment when they realized their connection with Donnie.
“It was totally a God moment,” Andy said.
For Donnie, it was just another confirmation about who truly is in charge, and it has inspired him to continue to find ways to get Bibles into the hands of people who need one.
“God showed me, confirmed to me, that He is at work in this ministry,” Prince said.
Prince’s book can be found on Amazon.com, and all of the proceeds are going to The Nathan Project to help buy Bibles and books to distribute to more people.
Donations also can be made on The Nathan Project’s website at nathanproject.com.