Life-changing personal faith - Wes Hall

Wes Hall, legendary fast bowler for the West Indies, grew up in the least luxurious of situations in Barbados. Now 81 years old, the ICC Cricket Hall of Famer reflects...

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Life-changing personal faith - Wes Hall

Wes Hall, legendary fast bowler for the West Indies, grew up in the least luxurious of situations in Barbados. Now 81 years old, the ICC Cricket Hall of Famer reflects on his journey.   Our home was full of love but had not even one of the modern conveniences. My hope, as an 8-year-old, was that cricket would give me an outlet to experience a better quality of life. My goal was to one day play on the West Indies team. My dad had a low-paying job and my mother worked more than one job to try to help provide. My mother was a remarkable woman of faith and values; I really looked up to her. When I was young, I was religious but it wasn’t until much later when I understood that I could accept Christ as my Savior and experience a significant spiritual relationship with God. Later on, as a politician, I found myself responding harshly to a reporter on a television program. My mother saw this on television and reacted with a reprimand. “You didn’t act like the kind of son I brought up,” she said.   That kind of honest, loving talk from my mother has always been helpful and appreciated. Her influence and discipline helped shape who I am today. As a West Indies player, I wanted to respect our opponents as competitors and not as the enemy. My international Test cricket career got off to a good start against India. I especially enjoyed two seasons playing in Australia in the Sheffield Shield for Queensland. My Test cricket hat trick against Pakistan was the first for a West Indies player. In a famous Test match, I bowled the final over in the tied Test against Australia, one of only two such ties in Test cricket history.   And in a Test at Lord’s, the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac wrote, “Possessing a long hostile run-up to the wicket, with an equally long follow-through, Hall bowled as though he meant to take a wicket with every delivery. Nobody will ever forget his famous last day in the Test at Lord’s, when he bowled on and on, hour after hour.” But it wasn’t until after my playing career that I turned to Christ as Lord, asking Him to forgive my sins and be my personal Savior. That’s when my new life began.   I wasted some of the best years of my life not following Him. It has been wonderful in the years since to grow as a follower of Christ, to serve many cricketers and the West Indies team. One of the most special times was when Malcolm Marshall, another of our West Indies famous fast bowlers, in the last month of his life, entered into a conversation with me about his eternal life, and I had the joy of introducing Malcolm to his life-changing personal faith.   It is a joy to know the Lord personally and serve others.   —Wes Hall, West Indies cricketeer

Trust in the living God - Ruwan Kalpage

Ruwan Kalpage is former Sri Lankan cricketer who played in the 1992 Cricket World Cup. He later spent time coaching at the national level for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.  ...

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Trust in the living God - Ruwan Kalpage

Ruwan Kalpage is former Sri Lankan cricketer who played in the 1992 Cricket World Cup. He later spent time coaching at the national level for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.   The experience which I am about to relate occurred a few years ago. When I went to service my car, I met a person who worked in the same company I worked for few years prior. Although we had never met or talked, there became an appointed time in my life for this person to talk to me.   My life was centered on two things: cricket and religion. From the age of 9 I was very interested in cricket, as my father was a reputed cricketer. My childhood dreams were fulfilled when I was selected to represent Sri Lanka in the Test team.   I was brought up in a religious background that demanded strict compliance of rituals and discipline. I followed religious observances and lived a life I thought was good and correct. But while playing cricket, I indulged in many vices that I thought were normal. I did not feel bad about these things.   My cricket career had many ups and downs. I played in the 1992 World Cup tournament but then was subsequently dropped from the team in 1996. I knew it was not going to be easy to make a comeback to the team in the future with the tough competition among players.   Suddenly this disappointment became an appointment for me. The person I met at the service station had too been like me. He began to talk about a God who was close to him; he said that we are created by this God who loves us. Further, I was told that God could rule over my life and change things for me.   At this point of time, my family life also was not in the best of shape. I had a lot misunderstandings and arguments with my wife. All of this, as well as career disappointments, were making me very frustrated. When I heard that there is a God who loves me, cares for me, and understands what I'm going through, it surprised me.   This person also told me that this God who created the universe had also sent His Son Jesus to live and die for me.   After hearing about this God and His Son, Jesus Christ, I knew my life was not on the right path. I decided to change my life and hand it over to God so He could lead and rule over me. I was going through a difficult patch in life, but when I opened my heart to God, it turned out to be the best ever in my life.   Life hasn't been the same since. I feel I have rediscovered it. God changed every aspect of my life. I was called back to the Sri Lankan team after two years, and once again, I represented Sri Lanka at the World Cup, the 1999 tournament in the U.K. Furthermore, my family life was also restored.   I now have satisfaction as I live with joy and peace with my wife, and I’ve been blessed with a daughter and son. I do not feel frustrated when things become tough or go wrong. I know there is God who walks with me. I know it is Jesus who changed my life and gave me a new direction. If not for Jesus, my life would be a disaster.   I retired from cricket in 2000, and for the last 18 years I’ve been an international coach, traveling all over the world. Cricket does not control my life anymore. My trust is in the Lord Jesus who made all things new for me. I know He came to this world to give life abundantly.   Today, I urge you to turn your life to Jesus and experience the miracle of a new life — one full of joy, peace and contentment. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Put your trust in the living God; He will never put you to shame. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can be victorious in Him.   — Ruwan Kalpage, Sri Lankan cricketeer

Playing for an audience of One - Katie Perkins

After setting her mind as a youngster to compete for the New Zealand women's national cricket team, Katie Perkins found herself lost and far away from that goal in her...

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Playing for an audience of One - Katie Perkins

After setting her mind as a youngster to compete for the New Zealand women's national cricket team, Katie Perkins found herself lost and far away from that goal in her early 20s. But when she handed the game over to God, her athletic career took a positive turn. She debuted for the New Zealand White Ferns in January 2012, and has appeared in more than 100 international matches since.   Also a full-time police officer in New Zealand, the 30-year-old Perkins keeps her relationship with God at the forefront of all she does.   To play cricket for New Zealand was the first dream I ever really had. Ever since I was 5 years old, this dream has given me a drive like nothing else. I had other passions, but cricket trumped them all.   I grew up going to church, with a strong Christian influence in my life because of my family. I was a good kid and followed the teachings I learned in Sunday School, but being a good kid and knowing God are two very different things. It wasn’t until I was 15 years old, after being mentored by a good friend for a number of years, when I started understanding the relational side of God. Then I remember one morning at church, I prayed to God and told Him I wanted to follow Him, to live my life for His glory. At that moment, the Holy Spirit filled me and the emotion and adrenaline that surged through my body was something quite indescribable.   But because I loved the game of cricket so much, my pursuit of a career in the game soon became my god. My self-worth was defined by my success or failure on the cricket field. My mood was determined by how well I played that day.   After my toughest season in 2010-2011, my dream of playing for the White Ferns felt further away than ever before. I needed something to change. The offseason that followed turned my whole life around.   I went to an Athletes in Action “Ultimate Training Camp” in April 2011. There I met other athletes who had a heart for God, all wanting to understand more about God in their sport environment. My eyes were opened to the face that God didn’t care about my results on the field, He cared about how I played the game. I learned about playing for God, an audience of One, and about my true worth, which can only be found in God.   As the winter progressed, my best friend challenged me about where God was in my cricket game. The truth was, He wasn’t there at all. After a lot of prayer and struggling with the reality I may never be a White Fern, I tried to understand how to love myself for who I was, instead of what I could achieve. By the time the next season came around, I had let go of my lifelong dream and given cricket over to God.   The freedom and joy I played with that season led to the most successful and consistent summer I’d ever had, and to the phone call that brought me to tears of joy as I found out I would be a White Fern!   I wish I could say I always play with this type of joy and freedom but I can’t. I struggle constantly. As life and cricket got in the way, I let myself become distracted, and let cricket take priority in my life once again. At a Twenty20 World Cup semifinal, my love for cricket was non-existent. I was pretty low. I knew it was God that was missing in my life. I felt like my prayers were falling on deaf ears, but in reality, it was me who was choosing to be deaf toward God.   When I got back to New Zealand, I reached out for help. I connected with chaplains and a mental skills coach. I’ve been more disciplined about going to church and not allowing my sport to get in the way. I’m a work in progress, but I know I’m moving in the right direction — closer and closer to God.   I don't always cope well when I lose. It’s an ongoing battle. But I try to remind myself of God’s truths: I am adequate, I am perfectly loved. Whenever I am lacking confidence in my ability to play, I remind myself of 2 Timothy 1:7, which says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”   A strong visual I have connected with this truth is that of a 100-meter runner standing at the starting block. Whatever happens between the gun going off and the end of the race will have an impact on the immediate future of that runner in this life. But God’s love and sacrifice for that athlete does not change one bit at the end of the race from when they were waiting at the starting block.   I now aim to always have my faith play a significant role in my sport and in my life. And I really appreciate when I see it in other players too.   — Katie Perkins, New Zealand cricketeer

Knowing the One who gives life - Tinu Yohannan

Tinu Yohannan, a former Indian bowler, returned to the cricket field as the bowling coach for the Kerala state team from 2014-2018. He is now in charge of the academy...

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Knowing the One who gives life - Tinu Yohannan

Tinu Yohannan, a former Indian bowler, returned to the cricket field as the bowling coach for the Kerala state team from 2014-2018. He is now in charge of the academy structure and coaching system in Kerala.   I came from an athletic family. My dad, T.C. Yohannan, was the first Asian to jump 8 meters in the long jump. Seeing him do so well in athletics, it became my own ambition to reach athletic success. I trained hard, and after doing so, was able to represent my state in a few events in the high jump during my school years. Then during my final years of school, I developed an affinity for the game of cricket. When I started playing this game, I realized I had a talent for bowling fast. I decided to give it a try and soon understood that I might be able to make it big in this game.   By God’s grace, I was given the opportunity to train with one of the world’s top bowling coaches, Dennis Lillee, a former bowler from Australia. For five years under his teaching, I learned everything there was to know about the sport. In 2001, I was given the opportunity to represent my country, India, on the national team. This was a dream come true — not only for me, but for my state of Kerala, on the southern tip of India. No one from Kerala had ever made the national team before! It was a big achievement to represent my state and my country in this sport.   In my debut match in December 2001, during my first over, I got a wicket with the fourth ball I bowled! I was immediately successful on the new pitch. At the age of 21 years old, I felt like I had made it. No one could destroy me! And no one could take this sport away from me. I lived for this moment. I even had the chance to play on the same team with my idol, Sachin Tendulkar!   I traveled and played on the national team for another two years, until in 2003 when I suffered some injuries. Initially I thought I could make it back to the limelight; I thought I was invincible. But when the opportunity never came back to me, reality struck me that it’s not that easy. For four years I worked extra hard in practice, but even after all this effort, I couldn’t get back on the team.   Having been brought up in a Christian home, I was used to prayer and Bible reading. I was a so-called “good Christian,” reading the Bible every day and praying with my family. But it wasn’t until I began to lose my position on the cricket field when I suddenly realized my need to get closer to God. Something in me had made me believe that when I reached a certain goal, I would find peace and rest. When that didn’t happen, I began to look to God. He began to bring various people in my life — people I didn’t know until that point — who told me that God had a purpose and a plan for me. They told me I didn’t have to worry, that He would take care of me.   I began to seek and understand God’s Word more. Then in May of 2007, the real u-turn happened in my life. I suddenly understood not only who God is, but who Jesus Christ is. I used to pray to God and read my Bible, but before this moment I had never really grasped who Jesus was. I began to understand that Christ died for me, giving His life up for me so that I may have life in Him. He is God and He is living within me.   This revelation changed my life immediately! As I met with my pastor that day, I could feel my life turning around. It was at that point that I knew that the God of Heaven is with me and He loves me. This indescribable realization gave me new life.   God spoke to me very clearly that day, letting me know that He is the One who gives life. Nothing else is worth losing our souls over. Everything I do is for God because He is the One who gives me real life and peace through Jesus Christ. This revelation relieved me from all anxiety, fear and pressure. All the burdens I carried with me throughout my cricket career were immediately taken away.   From that day on, every time I entered the cricket field, I knew it wasn’t me anymore; God was doing the work through me. The Bible says in Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” I’m not the old Tinu. I live in Jesus Christ and He in me. He is the One who leads me.   My favorite verse in the Bible is Psalm 32:8, which says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.” This truth has become a reality and a pillar in my life, giving me a lot of strength.   Whatever you might gain in this world — a name, fame, money — it’s not worth comparing to life with Christ. Your soul is more precious than anything the world has to offer. There’s only one way to save your soul and that is through Jesus Christ. He is the only way to the Father. The real joy I experience today is through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.   — Tinu Yohannan, Indian cricketeer

Nothing Without Christ - J.P. Duminy

South African cricketer J.P. Duminy has made quite a name for himself as a left-handed batsman and right-handed off-spin bowler. Having grown up in the Western Cape of South Africa,...

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Nothing Without Christ - J.P. Duminy

South African cricketer J.P. Duminy has made quite a name for himself as a left-handed batsman and right-handed off-spin bowler. Having grown up in the Western Cape of South Africa, he currently plays for both his home team, the Cape Cobras, and the South African national team, for which he's the vice-captain.   It all started when I was a young boy of 8 years old, playing for the Strandfontein Cricket Club — I fell in love with the game of cricket. While I enjoyed the game immensely, it was my dad who believed I had the talent to represent my country one day. At the age of 17, I received my first professional contract with the Western Province.   I have always been incredibly blessed to have such amazing family, friends and coaches as my support structures. But it was in 2012, when I snapped my Achilles, that I truly grew in my reliance on and personal faith in Christ Jesus. This crucial time in my life was even more significant for my spiritual walk. He put some really good friends around me who guided me through my journey of getting to know who Christ really is and understanding what He did for me on the cross at Calvary.   “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” — Galatians 2:20   Since that time, my drive is to be the best I can be in my sport in order to honor God with the talent He’s given me. I want to glorify Him and His name through every little thing I do.   There are huge expectations that come with being a professional athlete, and because of those expectations we can become desperate at times. This career might look easy, but with the amount of time and energy we as professional cricketers invest in our sport, we face certain challenges every day. Throughout the years, I’ve learned that there is only so much I can do in my own strength. After that, it’s all about leaving it in God’s hands.   I am nothing without Christ. None of my successes would have been possible without Him. We are all fallen creatures and that’s why Christ died for us. My identity is not found in how anyone else labels me, it’s found in who He says I am.   At the end of my life, I want to be remembered as someone who, like Christ, gave his all at all times, who loved people, who was compassionate to the needs of others, and who always had a servant attitude.   — J.P. Duminy, South African cricketeer

Shining Light - Carlos Brathwaite

Carlos Brathwaite is a West Indies all-rounder cricketer from Barbados who took over as captain of the West Indies Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) team in 2016. He competes in Test cricket,...

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Shining Light - Carlos Brathwaite

Carlos Brathwaite is a West Indies all-rounder cricketer from Barbados who took over as captain of the West Indies Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) team in 2016. He competes in Test cricket, One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals for the West Indies. In the last over of the 2016 World T20 final against England, Brathwaite became the first West Indies player to hit four consecutive sixes in a T20I match.   I always wanted to be a pro cricketer, but I also wanted to be an entrepreneur. I think I was 19 when I came to a crossroads — should I carry on with university and pick up cricket later, or should I devote a few years to the game? I decided I would see how playing went, knowing I could get a degree at a later stage if necessary. So that was very important, and thankfully my career has turned out well.   The World T20 final changed my life. I don’t even know how to explain how I actually hit those sixes, but it was an amazing feeling. It was just one of those fairytales that you actually get to live out; it was a dream come true to win a World Cup and what a way to win it! To be part of an epic final and then hitting four sixes in the way that I did, it was something I had never dreamed about. I was speechless.   I was brought up in a Christian home; my mum is a very devout Christian and I always went to Sunday school. It was all around me, to be fair; going to church and Sunday school would always be very much apart of the day. So from a young age I was introduced to Christianity and I grew with it for myself. I fell off the wagon at times but it is ingrained in me and my faith is part of my foundation.   I see my ability as a gift from God. My dad tells the story of me being 2 or 3 years old and playing drives in the backyard. I work very hard and I think sometimes people take gifts from God and expect that you don’t have to do anything with them; they just mature and you get better. But there is a lot of hard work to be done.   It’s like the man in the Bible who was given talents and doubled them, compared with the man who got his talent and buried it. So while this is a gift from God and I appreciate it, there is also still a lot of hard work to be done to eventually mature it and reap success.   God is teaching me humility right now. I have been so fortunate to share an Indian Premier League dressing room with Imran Tahir, J.P. Duminy and Rahul Dravid — guys who are so humble. They have achieved so much in cricket and when fans come up to them in cricket-mad India, hounding them for pictures, they are so polite in saying yes or no.   For me, to get the same praise that they are showered with is hard to accept. It’s now time for me to bring that humility back to the Caribbean and be a shining light to my peers, and show it wherever I go.   — Carlos Brathwaite, West Indies cricketeer

Finding new completeness in Christ - Faf du Plessis

At 34 years of age, Faf du Plessis is one of South Africa’s most consistent right-handed batsmen, and has proved himself a leader in the sport of cricket as the...

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Finding new completeness in Christ - Faf du Plessis

At 34 years of age, Faf du Plessis is one of South Africa’s most consistent right-handed batsmen, and has proved himself a leader in the sport of cricket as the current captain of the national team. Having made his Test debut in November 2012, he soon became the fourth South African to score a Test century in his debut.

  With a highly successful career spanning seven years and multiple nations, du Plessis has not forgotten where he places his trust and significance.   I grew up playing most sports in school, but cricket was always my No. 1. As I began to play internationally, I quickly learned that, like with any sport at this level, you are guaranteed to have highs and lows. Now that I’m more experienced in my career, I have learned to be a lot more consistent in both the highs and the lows, not only in cricket, but in life. I treat my personal successes the same as my failures — as opportunities to grow and learn.   I grew up thinking of myself as a Christian, but it was more of a religion to me. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, so nothing ever took root in my heart. It was only when I began on a journey with a pastor — now a friend of mine — who explained to me what Jesus’ love really looks like. Once I understood this powerful truth, I chose to get baptized. My heart instantly changed as I gave my life to Christ and started understanding the truths of God much more clearly. As I found a new completeness in Christ — something I had never experienced before — I wanted to change the way I lived my life to be in alignment with these truths.   Initially, it was hard to grasp the concept of giving your career and performance over to God, trusting Him in whatever happens on the cricket field, whether that results in success or failure. But now, as I have grown in my faith and knowledge of God’s sovereignty, I truly believe that He has put me here for a reason. I have a purpose in Him.   There are a few challenges I face as a Christ-follower in this sport. The first one is the environment I find myself in. There are many cricket players who come from different beliefs and faiths, and in many teams, I have been the only Christ-follower. That can be quite lonely in the sense that I don’t have people there for support or just to pray with. The second struggle is the temptations we face. Because we travel a lot all around the world, there arises many situations where you face group pressure to do something you shouldn’t. But as I grow stronger and more mature in my faith, the easier it is to say no.   I know the reason I have success in this sport is solely due to Jesus and I thank Him every day for that. When my career is done, I want to be remembered as a very good leader who challenged other players to be the best they can be. I also want to be known as someone who stood up for what they believed in.   Lastly, I want to have a positive influence on our country. I know that my purpose is about more than the runs I score on the cricket field. I hope to be able to spend time with people to show them the love of Jesus and see His love shine through them as well.   — Faf du Plessis, South African cricketeer

Banner for Christ - Alberto Rodriguez

Alberto Rodriguez has made more than 70 international appearances as a defender for the Peruvian national football team. In many of those matches, he was the team captain. He has...

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Banner for Christ - Alberto Rodriguez

Alberto Rodriguez has made more than 70 international appearances as a defender for the Peruvian national football team. In many of those matches, he was the team captain. He has also played more than 15 years for professional teams in Peru, Portugal and Colombia.

However, having a successful football career is not what Rodriguez wants people to know most about him.

"As a follower of Christ, this platform makes people see not just the football player, but a person that God has made and put in this position," Rodriguez says. "This is what God wants. The Bible says we are an open book; the world looks at what we do. I want to be a good reference, a model for young people and adults to follow, not just an athlete, but a person who follows Christ."

Rodriguez became a follower of Christ when he was around 18 years old through a friend he played football with. His friend invited him to church, Rodriguez liked it and continued to go. Before long, he had a personal encounter with God, who transformed Rodriguez's life and also that of his girlfriend, who is now his wife and mother of their three children.

"I know without God I can't do anything. We are nothing without Him. Today as a national football player, [that] has all happened with God's help. When Christ came into my life it was a very, very beautiful, important and amazing moment," Rodriguez says.

Being a follower of Christ in the world of professional sports isn't always easy. Rodriguez has experienced that, but knows God is for him.

"There is always adversity in all areas of our lives; as a football player there are adversities in training, in the games," he says. "Things don't always turn out good. As a professional football player, and a follower of Christ, my banner is Christ. I realize that the Lord is always fighting for me, guarding me, strengthening me, even in complicated situations."

But being a follower of Christ in the world of professional sports allows Rodriguez to reach people he might not otherwise.

"We are an instrument in the hands of God to be able to share the Good News, His Word. This is a motivation. If He has put me in this position as a professional football player, it is to be light in the middle of darkness. This is an opportunity God has given me," Rodriguez says.

As he leads his Peruvian teammates on the field and around the world, Rodriguez strives to make clear who he stands for.

"I always want to be better. I want to leave a legacy, an example for the youth that come behind me, so football in Peru continues to develop and grow," he says. "It is important that the motivation I have is transmitted to others, so they can see not just me Alberto Rodriguez, who I am and what is inside Alberto Rodriguez. But that when they see me, they see God. They see a reflection of what God is doing in my life. This is the biggest joy for any follower of Christ."

In Goal to Glorify God - Vincent Enyeama

Just as Vincent Enyeama's football career was beginning to rise, he nearly died. Two years after playing in his first World Cup as a 20-year-old, the Nigerian goalie was involved...

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In Goal to Glorify God - Vincent Enyeama

Just as Vincent Enyeama's football career was beginning to rise, he nearly died.

Two years after playing in his first World Cup as a 20-year-old, the Nigerian goalie was involved in a car crash that left two motorbike passengers dead and the car's driver in critical condition. Enyeama walked away with only bruises, even though the car flipped twice as it swerved to avoid a motorbike

"I'm lucky to be alive," he said in an interview following the accident.

God's plan for his life included much more. There was more football to be played, and many people to influence.

"I believe in God, I believe in the Bible, which says He chooses who He chooses," Enyeama said.

Enyeama went on to play professionally in Nigeria (where he has been honored as the best player in the African Champions League), Israel and France. And after making his World Cup debut by holding England scoreless, he became a beloved member of the Nigerian national team, also known as the Super Eagles. He played as the country's top goalie in two more World Cups, one of only a few Nigerians to appear in three World Cups. Enyeama later became Nigeria's most-capped player, with 101 matches for the national team.

One of Enyeama’s most well-known performances came in a later World Cup against Argentina. He made four incredible saves against the legendary Lionel Messi, who said Enyeama’s performance was “phenomenal.”

Enyeama prepared for that match by studying video of dozens of Messi’s games, but he credited God after the match. “My secret lies with God,” he said. “Thanks to Him I was able to do what I did today as He allowed me to stay calm under pressure.”

Enyeama has led the Super Eagles to third-place finishes three times at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. And he was later the team's captain when they won the tournament, thanks to a crucial save by Enyeama in the final. After the match, he was asked by the media how he was able make the stop.

"The angels of God helped me and they made sure that my hands were in the right place to stop the ball," he said.

A married man with three children, Enyeama loves God, his family and his country.

"I want to give all thanks to God for all these things," Enyeama said after being voted Nigeria's goalkeeper of the year. "I wish I can give more to Nigeria, I really wish. I really desire to do more."

Enyeama never hid his faith in Christ while playing with the Super Eagles. His teammates gave him the nickname "The Pastor" because he was the team's spiritual leader on and off the field. He would often lead the whole team in prayer before meals, practices and games.

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven." — Matthew 5:16*

* These references come from the Bible, which includes the essential details on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible is divided into books, which are further divided into chapters and verses. For example, John 3:16 refers to the Book of John, the third chapter and sixteenth verse.

A Gracious Peace - Marcos Senna

With four knee injuries in his career, it would be understandable if Marcos Senna was disappointed with football. But it’s quite the opposite. “I have had four knee injuries, but...

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A Gracious Peace - Marcos Senna

With four knee injuries in his career, it would be understandable if Marcos Senna was disappointed with football. But it’s quite the opposite.

“I have had four knee injuries, but with God’s help, I think I have coped with them well, and even experienced joy in the midst of them … I give thanks, honor, and glory to God for the strength He has given me.

“I am at peace. I know God has a purpose in our lives. If I am injured, it is for a reason that I am injured and I understand that I will get better in time. I understand that God … will keep looking after me. And for that reason I am very calm.”

Senna, who was born into poverty in Brazil and began playing football in the streets at age 6, became a Spanish citizen after Luis Aragonés, Senna’s Villarreal CF coach, asked him to play for the Spanish national team.

“I was not going to give up my nationality by birth — Brazilian,” Senna said. “At that time, I thought it was the best move and a privilege to have dual nationality and the opportunity to play for Spain, one of the best teams in the world. The truth is that it has changed my life. It has been extraordinary.”

Senna played in the World Cup and also helped Spain win the Euro Cup, beating Germany 1-0. Several publications named Senna player of the tournament after he helped Spain go unbeaten in the Euro Cup.

He also helped Spain win or tie 35 consecutive matches, tying the mark held by Brazil, and helped Spain win a record 15 straight games during that span. That sent Spain to No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time in the nation’s history.

“Winning the European Championship was a highlight of my career and a wonderful celebration,” he says. “We eventually won on penalties. I knew that I would be one of the penalty-takers. We practiced penalties the day before, but on game day we had played 90 minutes plus 30 minutes in extra time. I was exhausted and had cramps everywhere. Yet, when the time came, I was calm and felt God’s Spirit come on me, giving me peace and clarity. With His help, I was able to shoot confidently, score, and help Spain to victory. I knew God was in charge and had a plan for me to honor Him with this accomplishment.

“On the day of the final, I was completely focused on the match. It was a great day, especially with all of Spain sharing in the celebration. When we won, it was a time of great joy for all the players. Our lives will never be the same because of being part of winning the championship. More importantly, my life has never been the same because of my relationship with Jesus.”

That relationship with Jesus began in Brazil, and it has made all the difference in his life.

“At that stage I did not know much about the Bible," Senna said. "I had been to church with my mother, but as I grew up I stopped going for some reason. I was not baptized or anything, but I knew some things from my mother and grandmother, they invited me to a meeting. I liked it and I kept on going. Then eight months after I became a follower of Christ, Villarreal signed me and I joined a church in Villarreal where I was baptized.”

Senna said that fame, money and other material things aren’t enough to satisfy anyone.

“If you are worried about anything, I do not think that money is the answer,” Senna says. “But God’s Spirit is above all things. God can give you happiness, peace and joy. Just talking about it makes me smile. This has made me very happy and changed my life in every way. It is the best decision that anyone can make in their lives.”