Serving and Growing

In the world of professional sports, it’s not often that one hears of an athlete describing God using him to inspire and encourage others. But that is how Keron Williams, defensive tackle for the BC Lions, recalls his experience from the events surrounding Athletes in Action (AIA)’s 2013 Grey Cup Breakfast in Regina, Saskatchewan.

The Grey Cup Breakfast is more than just a single event; it encompasses a variety of outreaches to the community that not only inspire hope and faith to people, but also deeply touches the lives of athletes who participate.

This year, Williams was involved in various speaking engagements, including schools and prisons, and recounts the overall experience as refreshing, phenomenal, and overwhelming. “It was a cool atmosphere,” he says. “I got to hang out and meet a lot of guys and hear their testimonies. “To hear the Word of God being spoken from athletes is just so rare in the world that we live in with all the glitz and glamour that surrounds us,” he adds.

Along with other professional athletes, Williams participated in organized school events called Gym Blasts, where kids were pumped up through games and exercises, and also got to hear from players about the half-time of football, or the “red zone,” and its correlation to real life.  “Seeing the smiles on those kids’ faces was just great,” he recalls. “The whole experience was very memorable and important for them.”

Among other highlights from the week included a special dessert event that AIA organized to reach out to single mothers. As Williams shared a message of hope and encouragement with these women, he noticed they were walking out of the room. “I thought they were bored at first,” he says. “But then I learned later that they were actually in tears because of what I said. Just to see and hear how much I helped them to have hope and be optimistic was a real blessing for me.”

The majority of Williams’ speaking arrangements happened in correctional facilities in Prince Albert and Saskatoon, as well as a psychiatric ward, where he shared his story with male and female inmates. “As it was my first time speaking in prisons, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect,” Williams admits. “I did have a family member who was incarcerated, so in a sense that helped to prepare for the experience and in sharing my testimony.”

One particular incident stands out for Williams. “There was a man in the facility who looked at me, and said, ‘I wasn’t supposed to be here tonight.’ He told me he had given up his belief in God because of all the terrible things that happened to him. He said, ‘I don’t know why I’m here, but I’ve accepted Christ.’ As I looked at him, it felt like I was looking at myself! To see God working a miracle in that man’s life in the midst of his situation was pretty powerful.”

Williams recalls that his experience in the facilities and events throughout the week not only touched many hearts, but allowed him to grow spiritually and to be used by God. “A lot of tough questions were asked, like how can I be professional and have faith? It forced me to look deeper into myself and to find my integrity, to know my belief and what I was meant to do with it,” he says.

“I believe God had a purpose, in that He allowed me to speak,” he adds. “I didn’t even know I could speak that well to large crowds, or certain crowds like the people in prison. But God opened a different outlet for me so I could be used as His vessel – to talk about my experiences and to share hope with people.”

What does God have planned for you?