As the globe is in the throes of watching the World Cup, there are a few players on the field who have their eyes on a bigger prize: Jesus Christ. Read the testimonies of Tim Howard (United States) and Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, known as “Kaká” (Brazil), and find out what truly drives them on the field.
Tim Howard: United States, Goalkeeper
For the first ten years of his life, Tim Howard had an undiagnosed case of Tourette’s syndrome–a neurological disorder characterized by physical and verbal tics. His life seemed chaotic, and he had no peace. But he knew he could always count on at least one person to provide calm and stability: his grandmother.
“Nana’s sense of peace was so powerful because it came from her faith in the Lord. Through her, God revealed His love for me as well,” said Howard. “It wasn’t long before I was following in her footsteps. I wanted the same kind of faith and peace she had, and that is exactly what God gave me.”
Howard says that God has done some powerful things in my life through the combination of his Tourette’s syndrome and his gift of athleticism. His position as a well-known athlete has given him a platform to encourage others who also suffer from Tourette’s.
“Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that’s the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding. You can experience this same sense of love and peace, too. All you have to do is ask for it.”
Kaká: Brazil, Midfielder
10 years ago, Kaká went to a water park with his brother, parents and grandparents. During that trip, he hit his head on the bottom of one of the pools. Unbeknownst to him, the sixth vertebrate in his neck was fractured.
He returned to training the next week, all the while with a broken neck. The pain became so unbearable that his coach insisted he get another x-ray. The fractured vertebrate was revealed. Doctors said he was fortunate, as he could have become paralyzed. Kaká has no doubt that God was protecting him during that time from anything more serious.
He began to play again in January of 2001, and was called to play for the Sao Paulo professional team. Because of this, he believes God had a purpose in that accident. It is something that happened just before he had the great blessing of initiating his career as a professional soccer player.
“My parents always taught me the Bible and its values, and also about Jesus Christ and faith… and there came a time when I wanted to live my own experiences with God,” sad Kaká. “Soon after, many things began to happen in my life where I could experience God in a real way. I need Jesus every day of my life. Jesus tells me in the Bible that without Him I can’t do anything. I have the gift and capacity today to play soccer because God gave it to me. The day He wants me to do something else, I will do that ‘something else.'”
Kaká acknowledges that he will win and lose matches, but one thing is for sure – his identity in Christ. “The difference Jesus makes in my life is that I know I will always have victory, I will always have joy, and I will always have success. This is independent of the situations I face or will face. This brings me great peace,” he said.
“Everyone wants to be a winner, but for me, the true meaning of winning is having Jesus in my life. It is a life of prayer, a life of intimacy and a lifelong friendship, knowing that God is our Father. I can say that I am a winner and I am victorious because Jesus lives in my life. I will never stop following Him.”
About Beyond the Ultimate:
When Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith made it to the NFL’s Super Bowl they wanted to take advantage of the platform to share their faith, thus the Beyond The Ultimate Web site was formed. It has since grown to feature athletes and coaches from around the world in various sports talking about their faith in Jesus Christ and how that has impacted them and their sports.
Please visit BeyondTheUltimate.org for more inspiring stories.