Sportsmen with Faith

 Sport and Faith



Compiled by David Falkus



A number of years ago a young man of twenty was in an automobile accident.  The vehicle was completely destroyed,  and yet inexplicably the driver was uninjured.



 Such an experience affects different people in different ways.  In the case of Oliver Kuenzi,  it gave him a deep subconscious insecurity.

At this point a friend gave him some christian books to read.  They told stories of several people who had committed their lives to Jesus Christ.  A couple of months later he prayed:

"If you really exist, reveal yourself to me."  Subsequently he learned more about the promise of Jesus to forgive.  Then upon committing his life to Jesus,  he received a deep inner peace.  During this period he won the FIS Giant Slalom.


His whole way of thinking changed.  Oliver had discovered a meaning to his life. He became more balanced,  with a positive outlook on his circumstances.  He felt that he was where God wanted him to be,  and that there was no incompatibility between his faith and his sport.  He says "For me,  to be a christian is an exciting thing"  Even as a christian he is determined to win, but is no longer dependant on winning.


Oliver Kuenzi is convinced that his ability in Ski-racing is a gift from God.  He believes that Jesus is not just interested in our victories,  but also carries us through our defeats.  God's ultimate desire is to give us a more meaningful life.


"Surfing was a type of

 counterfeit religion."


From the time he could stand up,  Oliver was practically a legend. In time he realised he had something to offer.  From the age of 12 he was always in some sort of team, and finally made the National team.  Even though he was dismissed twice, the tenacious style of the mountain boy,  refused to give up, and carried on towards his goal.


In his later teens,  besides learning carpentary and skiing, he became a keen surfer.  "Surfing was a type of counterfeit religion.  It was an surfing is a hobby,  for which I have little time."


Back home in Adekboden,  he became involved with a bible study run by Athletics in Action,which was a blessing to Oliver.  He says 'Earlier, I had little understanding of the New Testament,  but since committing my life to Chrst,  I find it speaking clearly and relevantly to me.'


It is especially important to Oliver that he  shares fellowship with christians from different denominations,   but he also believes in being faithful to ones own local church.


In the meantime, he has become invilved with a Christian athletes association,  who share their faith with other athletes.  It was through this group that he first met the Norwegian skier Ole Christian Furuseth,  who is also a well-known Christian. Soon the two were close friends.  Prior to races,  they would read the bible and pray together.  Both rejoice when other athletes enquire about their faith. A few years ago, when Oliver was not part  of the National Team, he was allowed to train with the Norwegians.


Oliver married a Swiss Air Hostess, from the same village, who is also a strong christian, and even when they are separated by work, their loving marriage gives them strength.



Football Star Jorge Campo


As a child, life was turbulant.  My home was chaotic!  One brother was an alchoholic and the other a drug adict.  My parents were Spiritists - those that attempt to contact various spirits, including the dead.  Then one day my brother came home totally changed! Before he'd been drunk and bitter, and now he was full of joy and peace. He told and me the rest of my family that Jesus had changed his life.


My mother promised me more help from the spirits.  I was torn.  To serve Jesus I thought I would have to give up too much.  I thought that serving Jesus would limit my life,  and only tell me what I couldn't do.  On the other hand, I was affraid of spiritism.


About that time I began to experience various problems.  I tore a muscle in my left leg,  which prevented me from playing football for three months.  Also my relationship with my girlfriend Christina was in a state of crisis.  We were about to break up.  At a very big game in the Maracana Stadium,  I had to leave the field after only one minute of play,  due to a terrible pain in my leg.  Trying to figure out what was happening to me, I wondered if the cause had something to do with spiritism.


As a result I decided to go to church.  The pastor spoke about how Jesus had died for me.  After the service I told him about my situation.  He prayed for me and the pain in my leg vanished.  This was an unbelievable experience!


Eventually things worked out with Christina, and we set a date for our wedding.  More importantly,  we both gave our lives to Jesus Christ.  Fjrom that point on,  my life took a whole new direction.  God played a central part in all major decisions,  including the one to play in Europe.  Being a christian does not prevent me from having fun,  as I had thought.  Jesus is the source of life. Following him is exciting.



Bernard Langer



When Bernard Langer won the US Masters' title at Augusta on Easter Sunday, 1993,  he was asked on TV what made this win different from his first major golf title in 1985.  His reply went around the world:


"I count it a great honour to win on the day  my Lord was resurrected from the dead."  In this simple but powerful comment,  he was making a natural link between his professional golf career and his Christian faith.


Bernhard Langer was a member of the European Ryder Cup team from 1981 to 1991.  On the last of these years,  Bernard found himself faced with the final putt of the Ryder Cup.  If he holed the Putt,  Europe would tie with the U.S.A and thus retain the Cup.


He struck it well, but the all drifted past the hole!  The golfing world would quickly blame him for the missed putt,  but his christian faith put the whole thing in perspective and showed that mpoint of viewankind had a whole lot more to answer for,  than a missed putt. He commented:

Looking at the Ryder Cup from a Christian point of view,  there was only one perfect human being - the Lord Jesus Christ - and we killed him.  I only missed a putt.


Bernhard grew up in a religious home and attended church regularly.  In his own words he was "Very religious,  but missing my need for a personal relationship with God.  In 1985, he found himself assessing his life:  "I was ranked number 2  in the world.  I had a beautiful young wife and everything I could dream of.  The problem was that there was something missing."


At the players' bible study on the US golf tour,  Bernhard came across the Scripture John 3:3.  "I tell you the truth,  no-one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again."  

He realised for the first time  "Instead of trusting in what I could do for God,  to get into Heaven, I needed to trust solely on Christ's death and ressurection as sufficient payments for my sins. That realisation was life-changing"


In 1988 Bernhard became a founder member of the Bible Study on the European Golf Tour.  This helps golfers to reconsider their paths in life and to develope their Christian faith.  


Bernard's message to us readers is simple:


"I hope and pray that you will experience the same joy and peace that I now know through Christ.



Kriss Akabusi


The final event of the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo,  the 4 X 400 relay, produced a dramatic finale to the Championships.  When Kriss Akabusi took the baton from John Regis on the final leg,  he was a few metres behind Antonio Pettigrew,  the American who had already won the original 400 metre race.  Akabusi shadowed the American around the track,  edged past him in the final straight and hit the tape, to win the gold medal for Britain.


One of his greatest individual  triumphs so far,  was his gold medal in the 1989 European Championships, when he also beat David Hemery's British record, which had stood for 21 years,  since the 1968 Olympics.


But his athletic career and not always been plain sailing.  In 1986 he was at a crossroads.  He was a fine 400 metre runner, but was frankly never going to be world class.


Two decisions in the next year dramatically changed the direction of his life.  He switched from the 400 m to the 400m hurdles,  and became a Christian.  The switch of event was well thought out.  Kris noticed that Britain has a wealth of talent at 400m and that his ranking was dropping.  However,  there were no outstanding 400m hurlers it seemed.  He then embarked on a schedule, which was to bring him medals at the Commomwealth,  European and World championships!


Kriss finds a Bible


At the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh 1986 Kriss found a Good News New Testament in his room.  He read it from cover during the games.  In his own words  "Of course,  I had heard about Jesus before,   but I had never realised that he had walked on the Earth,  or that he had said so many amazing things,  or that He had promised eternal life to anyone who believed in Him.


When I realised all these things about Him, I just knew . I had a decision to make.  I started investigating to find out if it was true, what He had said.  I few months later I made a decision to give my life to Jesus Christ, something I have never regretted."


You too can start this new life,  by following these four steps.



  1. Realise that God is holy and perfect.  Though we are sinners and cannot save ourselves,  he loves us.


2)  Recognise who Jesus is,  and what he has done as our substitute.



3)  Repent,  by turning to God,  from sin,  and seeking forgiveness.



4)  Receive Jesus Christ by faith,  by saviour and Lord,  by committing yourself to     Him,





Here is a short prayer you could use:



Dear God,



I must admit there have been many times in my life when I know I have said and done things that were wrong.  

Please forgive me.  It comes as a great relief that although I can't wipe out the past,  you can.



I take this opportunity of receiving your forgiveness,   and believe that the price for this,  was paid for  by your only Son, Christ,  and that His death on a cross was for me .  The Son of God, in my place.



I don't understand how it all works,  but I now put my trust in you for my future.  Please help me to know you better,  and give me the strength of your Spirit to help me live differently from now on.


Thank You for listening and answering this prayer."


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