- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

Well, dear readers, here’s an exchange between a sportswriter and an athlete you might find interesting.

Question: “Are you saving yourself for marriage?”

Answer: “Yes, I am. … “I understand that I’m going to get some off-the-wall questions, and this was just another one.”

The athlete who is so understanding is Tim Tebow, the face of college football whose love of Christ is as well-known to sportswriters as his standout stats as a Florida Gator.

He is entering his senior year at the University of Florida after deciding over the winter against entering the NFL draft.

Raised in a Christian home of missionary parents, Mr. Tebow prays as easily with prison inmates as he does with other athletes. His athletic credentials are remarkable, and one of the most impressive is that he can run and throw the ball successfully, which is why he made history in 2007, when he won the Heisman Trophy - as a sophomore - for rushing and passing for 20 touchdowns in a single season. The Heisman, which is awarded to college football’s most outstanding player, is the trophy that shows the player clutching the football with one arm and throwing a stiff-arm with the other.

That’s who Mr. Tebow is - a Christian who runs, throws and protects the ball. And he knows who’s leading the way.

A “Man of Many Missions,” as Sports Illustrated’s July 27 cover points out, Mr. Tebow, 21, was born in the Philippines while his parents were performing good deeds and spreading God’s word. His mom became seriously ill while pregnant with him, and it was touch-and-go for awhile. However, she and Timothy Richard Tebow pulled through on Aug. 14, 1987, in Manila. Mrs. Tebow home-schooled all five of the Tebow children.

Tim’s dad, Bob, has a large ministry in the Philippines, the Bob Tebow Evangelist Association, and an orphanage that is home for more than 50 youths. The Tebow children still visit and carry out charitable work there.

Bob Tebow teases that he asked God for a preacher but got a quarterback. Some say his prayers were answered.

“Having covered Tim for three years, I would say he’s the most effective ambassador-warrior for his faith I’ve come across in 25 years at SI,” Austin Murphy writes in his Tebow cover story. “At a time when Americans are leaving organized religion in large numbers, according to a 2008 Pew Research poll, Tebow is leading his own personal counterinsurgency.”

Unlike a lot of so-called team leaders, Tim Tebow is at once a humble leader and a true follower.

“I think the No. 1 way that you minister to people is through your actions - by them seeing you and how you act and how you treat people and how you love people,” Mr. Tebow said at a press conference.

“My goal to do that is for my teammates and people in general to see that I’m a genuine person, someone who cares about them,” he continued. “When someone needs something, I want to be the first one there. If there’s a new sick kid in the hospital, I want to be the first one to visit him.

“I think they see that and they say ‘What is it about him that does that?’ Then I have the opportunity to say, ‘That’s my relationship with Jesus Christ.’ And you’ll get to minister your faith and what you believe in by your actions first and not always preaching or trying to share it first, but how you act and what you do first.”

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