Star athletes are seen as role models, both good and bad.
Yet, Christian athletes rarely get their due.
We want to put the spotlight on those who champion the cause of God.
Last week, we laid out an overview of Christian athletes, spotlighting those in various sports. If you missed that story CLICK HERE to read it.
Now, we will delve into the lives of some top Christian baseball players and their walk with the Lord.
What makes a great man of God can be found in the heart and in the legs of man.
A man who gives his whole heart to God and runs after Him will find the Almighty lifting him up to a new level of purpose that creates a mighty man of God.
Let me briefly introduce you to some great men of God.1
- Aaron Judge: This 6-foot-7, 282-pound, 25-year-old behemoth of a man was raised in the Lord by adopted parents. All you need to know about Aaron is in the way he lists life’s priorities on Twitter: Christian, Faith, Family, then Baseball. His Twitter Home Page photo is of 2 Corinthians 5:7 … For we walk by faith, not by sight. He won the 2017 Home Run Derby and is on pace to be the American League’s Most Valuable Player.
- Clayton Kershaw:We mentioned Clayton in Part 1. (CLICK HERE to read his story.) This Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher has a heart for God and is willing to serve others. His charitable work includes Kershaw’s Challenge, which helps underprivileged children, and mission work in Africa with his wife, Ellen.
- Albert Pujols: The Los Angeles Angels first baseman gives all the glory to God. “My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end. Baseball is how my wife, Dee Dee, and I glorify God.”
- R.A. Dickey: Another of baseball’s Cy Young award winners (2012), Robert Allen Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays has an amazing story to tell as a born-again Christian: Molested at the age of 8, early failure as a ball player, a suicide attempt. (See the spellbinding video of his testimony at the end of this article. In it, he explains how God prevented his suicide).
His first game in 2001 with the Texas Rangers was a nightmare. He tied a modern league record of giving up the most home runs in a game (6).
It wasn’t until he almost drowned in a river that he completely surrendered his life to God, and from that point on has never looked back.
Today he dedicates off-season time to Bombay Teen Challenge, a group involved with ending human trafficking, and he helps run the Ocala, Florida-based Honoring the Father Ministries which provides medical supplies to the impoverished in Latin America. You can read more about this role model in his book, “Wherever I Wind Up.”
- Josh Hamilton. This 5-time Major League Baseball All-Star has been around the league. After struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, he credits God for saving his life and career. He does not shy away from telling his story, speaking to community groups and fans at many functions, about how Jesus brought him back from the brink and that faith is what keeps him going. Hamilton wrote an autobiography, Beyond Belief,which explains how he quit drugs and alcohol and found a relationship with God.
- Jackie Robinson(1919-1972): The UCLA and Brooklyn Dodgers great (1947 to 1956) was chosen by Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey to break the country’s baseball color barrier because of Robinson’s devotion to God. Although abused by other players for being black in a white man’s game, he didn’t fight back. It’s noted that Robinson kept his reliance on God and prayed every night for strength. The rest, as they say, is history.
- Mariano Rivera:Keeping with the baseball theme, the recently retired Rivera was an outstanding pitcher with the New York Yankees. He glorified God in an interview, noting: “Everything I have and everything I became is because of the strength of the Lord, and through him I have accomplished everything. Not because of my strength. Only by His love, his mercy, and his strength.”
Today, he etablished a church in New Rochelle, N.Y., called Refugio de Esperanza, where his wife, Clara, is serving as pastor.
- Tim Tebow:Without a doubt, the most maligned Christian athlete in modern times. The 2007 college Heisman Trophy winner has had a checkered career as a pro football player with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets. Then he switched to baseball, playing in the New York Mets organization.
He is known (and predictably ridiculed by many in the media) for his outspoken Christian faith and his unwavering devotion to God. He would bend a knee to pray on the field before a game so much it gave rise to the term Tebowing. Read more about this mighty man of God in “Through My Eyes.”
- Mike Piazza: The former Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets catcher has said, “I truly believe my whole professional career has been a blessing from God.” He appeared in “Champions of Faith,” a documentary on the intersection between religious faith and sports.
- Curt Schilling: The retired star Red Sox pitcher has been a controversial figure in his after-pitching career. He was fired by ESPN for his disapproval of transgender bathrooms. A committed and outspoken evangelical, he said he was led to Christianity during his wife’s battle with skin cancer.
This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list as there are many other athletes of valor. But those mentioned here are great examples of how God lifts up those who have a heart for Him and run after Him.
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” (Proverbs 8:17)
There are other baseball players who are strong Christians, including Rajai Davis, an outfielder with the Detroit Tigers; Chris Davis, first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles; Josh Fields, relief pitcher for the Houston Astros; David Murphy, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians; and Ben Zobrist, an infielder with the Tampa Bay Rays, White Sox player Juan Pierrre; and former Atlanta Braves player and Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz.
Want to have a life of purpose in Jesus? Want to make a difference in someone’s life?
Then have a heart for God and run after Him so that you, too, as Olympic runner Eric Liddell so wonderfully put it, “feel His pleasure.”
Watch this informative 8-minute video on the strong Christian faith of Tim Tebow.
Watch this powerful 16-minute video of baseball pitcher R.A. Dickey. He has a truly amazing story to tell.
What do you think? Write me at [email protected]