Athlete Testimonies:

A.B. Morrieson

A.B. Morrieson, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Tibet, went on a hike on a Tibetan mountain with Norbu, a Tibetan who teaches English at the same school as Morrieson. Each was seeking spiritual results of a different kind. Here is the story.

As we continue our ascent through blinding snow clouds, Norbu points out a Tibetan monastery just ahead. We climb on and enter the monastery so Norbu can worship. Meandering past images of the Buddhas and working our way through the dark hallways, it slowly dawns on me that this entire hike is a spiritual experience for him.

Why is it that Norbu and almost all other Tibetans believe they get so much spiritual blessing from merely climbing a mountain? As a Christian, what's in it for me? Merit is a moot point; beyond the fact that I could never earn enough of it; all of my wrong was replaced with God's perfection when Jesus sacrificed His perfect life.

As I descend from my refuge on the ridge and rejoin the world below, I'm already looking forward to the next climb, when I'll see another corner of God's pleasure-filled creation. It's not for my merit that I climb, but for God's glory.

Aaron Baddeley

His nickname may be "Badds," but he does as much good as he can. As the youngest champion in Australian Open history at age 19, Aaron Baddeley certainly turned heads. Since joining the PGA Tour fulltime in 2003, he has recorded several Top 10 finishes and experienced a considerable amount of national publicity. But this isn't what stands out most about Baddeley.

Being a successful, young, handsome, and eligible man did nothing to change the desire of Baddeley's heart: pleasing God. This is what led him to take a six-month Dating Vow and participate in a Dating Fast that refocused energy otherwise spent dating on the Lord. Not the most popular activities, but definitely ones that strengthened his walk.

Baddeley's life verse, Jeremiah 29:13, speaks of consistently seeking and finding the Lord. He shares that message world-wide with youth because he's aware of the pressures they face. Now married, Baddeley doesn't face those same temptations, but he's been there. His desire is to point young people to Christ as their first love.

Baddeley has taken a stand that shows that Christ is his priority. His value isn't found in golf. "If I don't play well," he says, "it's not going to faze me and my walk with Jesus.

Aaron Cook / Amaury Telemaco

These are tales from the brink. These are how two pro pitchers escaped death- one spiritual and one physical.

On August 7, 2004, Aaron Cook of the Colorado Rockies was warming up and was unable to catch his breath correctly. "The trainers couldn't figure out what was going on, so they sent me to the hospital for tests." After a few of those tests, doctors told him he had multiple blood clots in each lung. "In the hospital I was able to spend some good time with my family, and we discussed how God has a plan in everything...That lifted a big burden off my shoulders, knowing that if I can't control it, God's got it in His hands..."

Amaury Telemaco, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, was 17 years old when he'd had enough of watching his parents and grandparents practice voodoo. Telemaco's sister led him to Jesus. "...She told me that Jesus was there and that Jesus paid the price for me," he recalls. Telemaco's off-seasons are spent preaching the gospel whenever and wherever he can. "Whatever (God) wants me to do, I will do. Wherever He wants me to go, I will go. It's not what Amaury Telemaco wants, it's what Jesus wants."

Adam Wainwright

At 7:35 pm on channel 18, Adam Wainwright would sit down with his dinner in front of the television to admire his heroes from afar. He was a boy with big dreams. Originally from Georgia, Wainwright grew up adoring the Atlanta Braves; his dream was to play for them. That dream became a reality.

He slowly but steadily made his way up in the sports world. When he was traded to the Cardinals for the 2004 season, he suffered setbacks that forced him to prove his worthiness on the mound. But Wainwright realized his true worth at a Professional Athlete Outreach conference. It was at that conference that he felt challenged and responded to the invitation.

Beginning that day, Wainwright began to see God's hand at work in his life. He got married, had a daughter, and has earned a prominent position in baseball. From playing ball as a child with friends to throwing the pitch that won the Series, Wainwright is still able to keep things in perspective. "I want to be known as the guy who lives the life of a Christian husband, father, and player," he says. He's living his dream, but now with a Godly focus.

Alana Beard

Three-time All-American Alana Beard is a leading contender for National Player of the Year honors, having led Duke to two Final Fours, three conference championships, and a 96-10 record while wearing the royal blue and white.

So, how does the 21-year-old keep the hype from going to her head? She says it's simple: While others might allow the attention to affect their attitude, her faith gives her a firm foundation.

"I believe in being humble because it's in the Bible," says Beard, who grew up going to Greenwood Acres Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, and accepted Christ at age 13.

"Whenever I'm having problems or feel that nothing is going right, I always go to Matthew 6:25-32, which says that if you seek God's kingdom first, everything else will be fine," says Beard.

As Beard finishes her senior season, she knows that nothing less than a national championship could complete her stellar college career. But Beard also understands that, things will happen only in God's perfect timing.

"Of course, I want to be the best," she says. "But I also believe in being patient. I know that good things will come when I wait on the Lord."

Allyson Felix

Three bright stars of the 2004 Olympics look back on Athens and ahead, perhaps all the way to China.

If you blinked, you might have missed the blur that is Allyson Felix, the shining hope of US Track and Field. The pretty young athlete is self-effacing in a world where sprinters practically jump up and down, crowing, "Look at me!" Felix routinely deflects the adulation to the One who gave her wings to fly. "I always try to give God all the glory."

Cat Reddick was a huge part of the US Women's Soccer team winning a gold medal in Athens. In the gold medal game against Brazil, she subbed in during the second half and witnessed Abby Wambach's deciding goal off her head. She stands for God as well. "I've been able to work for Him," she says.

Having won a gold medal in Sydney in 2000, US Diver Laura Wilkinson stood poised to repeat, this time in Athens. However, a miscue resulted in a fifth-place finish. Now she is training for the 2008 Games in China. She knows that Someone is with her. "I know I'm never alone up there," she says. "God is going through it all with me."

Amber Jacobs

As long as she can remember, Boston College senior guard Amber Jacobs has always been shooting a basketball. In fact, she approaches the art of shooting much the same as she approaches the game of life--"go with the flow, take it one game at a time," as many coaches like to say.

For any doubters out there, just turn back the clock to last March, when Jacobs buried a 17-foot jumper with 3.3 seconds left to give the Eagles a 73-72 victory over Old Dominion in first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Jacobs family was always involved with basketball, but it wasn't the only thing she learned from her parents. Her family has always been a tight-knit Christian family. Amber recalls being saved at the age of five.

Jacobs has her own Web site where young fans and others she has met often write to her. "It's nice to see that people appreciate you or that you do impact lives of others," she says. "You don't always see it, you don't always know. It's nice to see or hear those things once in a while--that there is a purpose in your life and that God is leading you."

Amber Neben

Ranked as one of the best cyclists in the world, Amber Neben is on her way to accomplishing great things in the world of cycling. She doesn't flaunt her abilities or achievements, but rather sees herself as a Christian simply following God's will for her life.

Neben didn't start out on this path. She was a long-distance runner and planned to make that her career. However, she developed devastating stress fractures in her legs in 1995 that ruined those chances. She still believed that God had something for her in the world of sports, though. That's when she discovered her love for riding. She prayed for 6 months before deciding that the Lord's will was for her to take the new path in cycling.

Now, after continued challenges, including testing positive for 19-norandrosterone, Neben says she identifies most with two characters from the Bible: Joseph and David. When Joseph faced in justice, "he never stopped trusting in the Lord," she says. And David going from shepherd boy to king is "proof that God does the extraordinary with the ordinary." Though Neben may see herself as ordinary, God is doing extraordinary things with her life.

Antwaan Randle El / Jeff Hartings

Surrender. Giving up your entire life. These are the keys to success according to football stars Antwaan Randle El and Jeff Hartings. Both players helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XL in 2006. Surely they know what it takes to be successful. But the success Randle El and Hartings speak about, the success most important to them is not for the football field-it's for life.

When there's a shiny Super Bowl on your finger, it's easy to let things get out of perspective. Hartings admits there were big temptations after winning. "There are a lot more chances to soak in your own glory," he says. But he and his Christian teammate both realize this as Satan's attempt to distract them from where their focus should be. Randle El said his priority is keeping his heart on "Kingdom business," which means accepting the responsibility to be a witness for the Lord.

While these two certainly have goals set for their athletic careers, they continuously set spiritual goals, as well. Randle El wants to grow the weekly Bible studies with his teammates; Hartings aims to read through the Bible in a year. Their eyes are on a greater prize than any Super Bowl victory.

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