Evangelist and World-Record-Setting Athlete
Bob Holmes is an evangelist who preaches at churches, revival meetings, pastors’ and youth conferences, Christian schools, camps, and other Christian events. In addition, God has given Bob a unique and compelling platform to reach both Christians and non-Christians as a one-man, world record-setting volleyball player who travels across the U.S. and around the world playing exhibition volleyball games solo against teams of players, and speaking to diverse general audiences and groups including students, teachers, military veterans, prisoners at correctional facilities, the National Guard, fans at sporting events and more, often with the opportunity to share the Gospel message. To date, Bob has played over 20,000 games of volleyball solo against teams of players and shared his evangelistic and/or inspirational messages to a combined audience of over 6 million people and counting. Over 100,000 people have received Christ as their Saviour, or recommitted their lives to Christ.
Bob has also played volleyball solo against teams of professional athletes including the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Miami Dolphins, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Buffalo Bills, the Washington Football Team (previously known as the ‘Washington Redskins’), and the Baltimore Orioles with Hall of Famer Cal Ripkin, and he’s won every game. Bob holds the world’s record for having played more games in any sport than any other athlete alive, and was featured in the ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ worldwide record book. He has also been featured on ABC News, CBS This Morning, CNN, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. Bob’s game record currently stands at 19,800 wins – 417 losses.
For decades, Bob has dedicated his life to preaching and sharing the Gospel, and helping prevent and deal with teen and adult depression, bullying and suicides, and inspiring audiences with his powerful and uplifting message. Countless lives have been impacted, as expressed in thousands of letters he’s received. Many have shared that they considered or planned to commit suicide, but changed their minds after seeing him play and speak, and others say he helped them understand how to deal with tough circumstances, negative feelings, bullying and depression.
What’s even more remarkable about Bob’s story is how God made it possible for him to overcome a number of obstacles to achieve these feats and goals, and has given him amazing abilities and ways to reach people across the country and beyond to share the Gospel with them.
Bob was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1956. His parents moved around several times so he was brought up in many different towns and attended various schools. Growing up, Bob was extremely shy and found it difficult to talk to people. He wasn’t at all athletic, had never enjoyed sports and in gym class he was often the last one picked to be on a team. Though he had played volleyball in gym class, he never played on a team in middle school, high school or college. This shows how the Lord can change a person, and how He often uses the most seemingly unlikely person to do His work.
At age 15, Bob was invited to go to a Christian camp. He heard the Gospel for the first time in his life, how the Lord loves him, how He took his place on the cross to pay the price for his sins and to offer him eternal life. Having the peace that by God's grace he could have every sin forgiven - past, present, and future - by Christ having taken our place on the cross, and that Christ gives us eternal life has motivated him continually over the years to want to get that crucial message to the world.
Bob went to Bible college after graduating high school and was called to be an evangelist after his first year. He graduated from Tennessee Temple University in 1978 and immediately went into evangelism full-time. He felt very burdened to reach even more people than were coming to the church meetings and began praying for a way to reach more people with the Gospel message.
After 6 years of traveling around the U.S. preaching and evangelizing he developed such a severe back problem that he would need two people to help him walk from his car to a building after a long drive. Meanwhile, during those first 6 years on the road Bob had been praying for a way to reach more people with the Gospel. He had never imagined that his severe back pain was going to be the very thing that God would use to answer this prayer.
A doctor explained that Bob did not have a degenerative disc, he had a pinched nerve from traveling in a car for lengthy periods of time. A chiropractor told him that it would help his back pain to exercise. It was then that Bob began playing volleyball one-on-one with a friend in the backyard 3 or 4 times a week just to get exercise. Soon, in every church revival meeting where he preached he would ask several people to play volleyball against him in their gymnasium after the speaking engagement at night. He was simply playing to help his back problem. Though he had never before thought that he would beat a team all by himself, Bob began to realize after playing several hundred games that he could consistently beat entire teams in volleyball.
After watching the famed Globetrotters basketball team entertain a crowd and seeing the joy they brought to people, Bob came up with the idea of a one-man volleyball team. He began thinking that he could play exhibition games and in order to share his message with students in public schools, demonstrating to people that they could stand alone and beat the odds they face just as he was doing on the court.
In 1985, Bob called some schools in an area where he was traveling for work and asked a local high school principal if he could come in and play exhibition games with teams of student athletes and a faculty team. One high school principal replied, "You’re going to play them all by yourself? I’m going to book you just to see that myself.” Eight schools booked Bob to play volleyball and speak during that week. He won every game that first week on the road.
Bob’s volleyball talents have helped him to reach millions of people with his evangelistic and inspirational messages. Christians and non-Christians alike are intrigued watching him play volleyball solo, and after the volleyball exhibition he shares his message with the audience.
Bob realized that if he spoke to elementary, middle school and high school students during the day, that often it was possible to schedule evening events at the school where the students and their families and the community could attend. These events usually consist of Bob playing exhibition volleyball solo against teams and speaking, along with a pizza party, to reach out to the community. Because those events happen after regular school hours, the buildings are considered public venues, therefore making it possible for Bob to share the Gospel with every person attending. When a local church sponsors an evening event, it provides the opportunity for those churches to communicate with the audience, to give away Bibles or invite them to church.
Since his first volleyball and speaking events in 1983, Bob has traveled around the country often playing 40-65 volleyball games a week solo against a variety of teams including professional athletes, speaking at churches, revival meetings, and Christian events and to other diverse mainstream audiences and groups. The energy it takes to cover the court playing solo for one game is comparable to that of playing 4 games on a team. He has played as many as 24 games in one day and evening over 10-11 hours, and played solo against as many as 1,000 people in one game. Bob gives all the credit to God for providing him the supernatural strength to be able to accomplish these athletic feats over more than 35 years.
Bob stresses the fact that he plays not for the game of volleyball, but it is the message that keeps him going, because as he says the message is ‘billions of times’, truly infinitely more important to him than the game.
Bob’s message is not one of self-help, self-esteem, or self-improvement. His key message is that God can take a poor, lost sinner and lift them up from the miry clay and set them free. In like manner God can take one’s life, compelled by the Love of Christ and motivated by the direction of the Holy Spirit working through that life and give one a cause worth fighting for. His cause is to spread the message of hope in Christ to as many people as possible throughout his lifetime. He believes it’s the most important message he could possibly share, because salvation in Christ is for all eternity.
Bob and his wife and family reside in Tennessee.
Bob Holmes holds the world record for having playing more games in any sport than any other athlete alive. In fact, Bob has played over 20,000 games of volleyball in his lifetime.
Bob's talent and message has been seen and heard by over 6 million people.