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There is so much controversy involving sports these days. I wanted to change things this week and offer six Christian examples of athletes who should encourage you in your own spiritual walk. Three are from movies, and three are from hearing of them sharing their faith.

Let’s get to it!

  1. Brandon Burlsworth – Greater

Burlsworth was a walk-on offensive lineman at the University of Arkansas. His story is depicted in the recently-released movie Greater. Brian Hobbs wrote a review on the film this week.

I can only base his Christian example through the movie, which is a good one, but due to low publicity, it doesn’t appear to last long in the theaters.

Think of the popular underdog movie Rudy, and you will get a similar feel when you watch Greater, but one thing about Burlsworth’s presentation is how he lived his Christian faith. He was diligent in daily Bible reading. He held strong convictions. His words were flavored with godly knowledge.

  1. Woodlawn

This faith-based movie is about a Birmingham, Ala. high school football team dealing with interracial issues during the 1970s. There isn’t one particular athlete who stands out in the movie, as far as demonstrating Christian faith, but the team as a whole made a statement of overcoming bitter cultural tensions through God’s mercy and grace.

I wrote a movie review about Woodlawn last year. And I remember how it did impact many football players across the country after they watched it. The message of Woodlawn is powerful and is much more effective than current demonstrations involving sports.

  1. Eric Liddell – Chariots of Fire

Exceptional story of a man of faith who delays his mission service in China to run in the 1924 Olympics. Chariots of Fire doesn’t hold back in the depictions of Eric Liddell’s Christian faith. His most famous line in the movie is “I believe God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

  1. Dave Dravecky

Many may not remember this all-star pitcher who played for the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants in the 1980s. Dave Dravecky’s story is inspiring because he first overcame cancer in his throwing arm to return to the mound. However, the cancer aggressively returned which caused Dravecky to have his arm amputated.

Dravecky was known for his Christian faith while he was playing. He and some of his teammates with the Giants would have Bible studies at their hotel while on the road instead of being involved in the partying lifestyle.

After losing his arm, Dravecky became a popular speaker, even speaking at the Billy Graham Crusade, and would speak confidently of his Christian faith.

In his book Worth of a Man, he wrote, “My worth is not in what I did, but in who I am—a child of God…. Now, more than 20 years later, I’ve come to recognize that God has a special purpose for my life in offering His comfort, encouragement and hope to others—perhaps even to you or someone you know—on the journey of suffering.”

  1. Ryan Broyles and Landry Jones

Ryan Broyles did not have a good reputation as a redshirt freshman at the University of Oklahoma. In 2007, the highly-recruited wide receiver was arrested for trying to steal gas at a convenience store in Norman.

Fast-forward to his senior year in 2011, and Broyles is a different person. “I have a different outlook on life,” said Broyles in an article written by Oklahoman sports writer Jenni Carlson.

Carlson’s article tells about Broyles transformation, and much of the result is through the support and Christian influence provided by former OU quarterback Landry Jones who asked Broyles to attend a Bible study with him. I heard through unofficial reports that Jones is the one who directly led Broyles to Christ and make a profession of faith.

The article continues telling Broyles story of doing mission work, studying scripture and encouraging other believers through social media to share their faith.

  1. Danny Weurffel

I end this week’s DHD with one of the best genuine speeches reflecting the Christian faith. When Florida quarterback Danny Weurffel was awarded the 1996 Heisman Trophy, he made his profession of faith known. Watch the first two-and-a-half minutes of the video below, and hear Weurffel not only acknowledge God, asking Him to forgive his sins, but even in his conclusion he shares how nothing can compare to having a loving and living relationship with Jesus.