Tim Tebow, NFL

“….And that’s how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Chris. It is the most important thing in my life, so every opportunity I have to tell him I love him, or I’m given an opportunity to shout him out on national TV, I’m going to take that opportunity.”

Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks

Jeremy Lin, NBA

“I’ve learned how to be open and bold about my faith, but in terms of my influence, I just try to lead in a godly way.”

“My new years resolution: love God more deeply and intimately…”

Colton Dixon, American Idol

“…being a Christian is who I am. It is a part of me musically.”

“Idol is more than a singing competition. It’s a chance to share who you are. I just happen to love God.”

“…I follow a guy named Jesus. I’m just trusting in His plans. Whatever that may be.”

It seems as if several Christians have risen to such prominent positions as of late. The church-going, bible-reading, and praying kind of Christians.  And instead of shying away from the opportunity to speak about their faith, they are boldly proclaiming it, in some cases to the chagrin of the public. 

When I was a teenager I used to pray each morning as I drove to school. Most of the time it was a “help me to find a parking spot and get to class in time” kind of prayer. But I also remember praying for God to allow me to be a witness for Him at my public high school. I remember saying something like, “God, give me an opportunity today to share my faith. And when the time comes, make it so crystal clear and give me the exact words to say.” 

I don’t know what your platform is, but I know you definitely have one. We might not all be NFL quarterbacks, but we all have a circle of influence. It might be at school, at work or possibly even at home. There are people you come in contact with daily. How are you influencing them?

While in high school, I only saw a small group of my high school friends come to know Christ in a personal way. But four years after graduation, I received a Facebook message that I will forever remember. It came from a boy who I somehow conned into coming to church once or twice with me in high school. But he hated Christianity and anything that had to do with it, and probably thought I was some kind of crazy, religious wacko. We lost touch after high school until he sent me the message.

The Facebook message read, “Remember how I used to be so anti-christ? Well…I’ve discovered the truth and have become born again. I dont know if since coming to Christ if I’ve thanked you for planting that seed and not giving up on me despite how much I refused it.”

My jaw hung open in shock. I ran downstairs and opened up a box of old journals. Scrawled in my chicken scratch handwriting on old, dusty notebook pages were prayers I had written years before. Prayers for the boy (now a man) who had sent me the Facebook message. Prayers for him to find purpose in life and most importantly for him to come to know his Creator and Savior in a personal way. 

After high school I gave up on him ever “becoming a Christian”. But, God never gave up on him. And God used my small, seemingly meaningless sphere of influence, my tiny platform, to “plant a seed” in his life that would later be watered and harvested by someone else. 

People watch the way you live. And they take note of what you say. I wonder how many people have googled “God” since Colton Dixon said he wanted God to shine through his performance first and foremost. I wonder how many people have gone back to church for the first time in years since reading Tim Tebow’s biography. 

And I wonder how many will come to know Christ because of a simple prayer made in a car on the way to school. I hope at least a few. 

How are you using your platform?

god is red

You wouldn’t find me sleeping in on Sunday growing up. And I’d rarely get to see that opening kick-off at the game. Instead, I’d be waiting for Dad to shake the final hand at church, pull off his necktie, and says, “Okay. Let’s go,” long after the sound system had been silenced and the parking lot cleared.

As a teenager, I felt as though I practically lived at church, and only recently have I realized how much that was taken for granted. In 1944, as the Communists took over China, all religious activities were banned. Churches were closed or burned; pastors, priests and nuns were sent to the fields to become farmers.

The Chinese Christians destroyed their bibles in fear of being labeled “counterrevolutionaries”. Only under the cover of darkness in the secrecy of mountain caves did they continue to meet and pray together. After years of reading the Bible, God’s words had been etched “stroke-by-stoke” on their souls.

This week, I took a journey with Liao Yiwu, a man who embraced exile over silence in order to publish God Is Red, the secret story of the survival and spread of Christianity in Communist China. More than once, my eyes were flooded with tears as I read the stories of such ordinary people that refused to deny their life-changing faith. Each recounted the tale of those trailblazers who first came to China with the gospel of Jesus Christ; foreigners with blonde hair and blue eyes. The missionaries were known for their generosity, building hospitals, orphanages and schools. But soon, the foreigners were kicked out of China, leaving Christianity as only as a small spark in the land.

However, that small spark became a blazing fire, which could not be denied, sweeping across China despite harsh persecution. The spark came as a preacher who would not stop sharing his faith, even inside the prison walls. The spark came as a doctor who gave up the “good life” to bring medical treatment, compassion and Christ to forgotten villagers. The spark came as a reverend, now memorialized in Westminster Abbey, whose tongue was slashed out to keep him from preaching during his trial.

These people, and countless others, were marked as spies and counterrevolutionaries, accused of “poisoning people’s minds with spiritual opium”. Liao shares their tales, unscripted and uncensored, as they battled for freedom of expression and religion. And, all the while, my heart seemed the bleed within my chest, challenged by their continued existence.

What if my faith were put to the test; would I persevere? Am I known, not just for being a Christian, but for my generosity for others? What will my legacy be?

And, though not converted himself, Liao, too marvels at these Christians, “moved by the sustaining power of faith and the optimistic spirit among the congregations he encountered.” Christianity has now flourished in China. According to new surveys, there are now about 100 million Chinese Christians worshipping independently of the government sanctioned state churches. Those who call themselves Christ-followers now outnumber the Communist party.

This is one of those books, that stayed in my heart for days. A book, or really a challenge, which cannot be shaken.