Faith helps Blue Bombers tackle life
By Scott Taylor | Tuesday, August 24, 2010
WINNIPEG, MBWhen Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Steven Jyles was growing up, he was not permitted to say "no." His grandparents were tasked with taking him to church, and he wasn't allowed to just beg off.
Today, Jyles will tell you it was the best thing that ever happened to him.
"I attended St. Helena Baptist Church in Greensburg, Louisiana. My grandma and grandpa gave us no choice," Jyles says with a smile. "We went to church, to Sunday School and to Bible study. There was never a time when we didn't have to go to church.
"I remember my grandma saying, 'C'mon let's get to church,' and I'd say, 'Ahh, c'mon Grandma we went yesterday.' It's just the way it was. Church played a major role in my childhood and still plays a major role in my life today."
The same goes for Jyles' teammate, Blue Bombers rush end Philip Hunt. Hunt, who is one of the toughest, most physical players in the Canadian Football League, went to Bright Glory Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and then, when he played at the University of Houston, he attended Greater True Faith Missionary Baptist Church near the university campus.
Hunt says his faith is what carries him through good times and bad, and while he hasn't found a church in Winnipeg yet, he attends Athletes In Action Football Chapel and tries to remember the things he learned as a youth back home.
"I lead by example and do the things I need to do in front of my teammates that reflect the glory of Jesus Christ," says Hunt. "Every day, I use my Christian way of life to lead my team. I practice my faith every day by reading the Bible and praying privately. I practice my faith in a group with Athletes in Action. It's a way to express my faith in a group setting.
"That's why I'm looking forward to Faith Night. It will give me an opportunity to express my faith in a large group of believers."
On September 24, at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Jyles and Hunt, along with Lorne Korol of Athletes in Action, will offer their testimonies to thousands of Blue Bomber fans from church youth groups all over Manitoba at the first Winnipeg Blue Bombers Faith Night. The night will also include the Montreal Alouettes-Winnipeg Blue Bombers football game.
"We're trying to raise the awareness of Athletes in Action and our ministry," said Korol, who leads football chapel for the Bomber players once a week. "We want to have the groups hear the stories and journeys of faith of the players. We want to have young people hear and see where these professional football players are in their lives. We want to show that there is more behind these young men than just high-performance athletic skills. We want to show that there is a deeper side where they are trying to grow their relationship with Jesus Christ."
For both Hunt and Jyles, two big American university stars (Hunt from the University of Houston and Jyles from the University of Louisiana-Monroe), there have been some pretty serious ups-and-downs in their lives. Both wanted to play in the National Football League, but both have found themselves on the Canadian prairie, toiling for Winnipeg in the CFL.
Still, both say they believe their faith has brought them to a place where they are successful and where they enjoy playing. It's not the glamour and big money of the NFL, but it is professional football in a city that loves its team.
"No matter what happens in my life, I always try to be positive," said Jyles. "When you believe in Christ and you have a personal relationship with Him, you live stress free. You know Christ has a plan for you and as long as you put your faith and your life in His hands, you will always be secure in the knowledge that He's looking out for you.
"When people see me play, they see how controlled and calm I am, no matter the situation. I never panic and I never get upset, because I know that no matter what happens, the Lord has a plan for me and even when things go badly, I know the Lord is still with me."