When Alabama and Clemson face off in the college football national championship, plenty of Christians will be in the stands or watching their TV. But plenty of Christians will also be on the field playing and coaching for the Crimson Tide and Tigers.
Here are some of their stories.
Despite being a big-time college football player headed to the NFL, Miguel Chavis was on a path to destruction. Self-centered and vile. Hedonistic and drunk. A tough brute who partied hard and pursued every fleeting pleasure he could think of.
You name it, and Chavis, during his early years as a defensive tackle at Clemson, was probably guilty of it.
“I was living in the flesh for 3 1/2 years and was sexually immoral and addicted to pornography, and was really just captured and captivated and enslaved by people’s opinions of me,” said Chavis, now the defensive player development coach at Clemson.
But then God intervened in Chavis’ life, radically transforming the young man into something new and something good. He is proof that God can find what’s lost and fix what’s broken.
“He lights up a room when he comes in, just an energetic kind of guy,” said Jeremy Chasteen, the college and missions pastor at Crosspoint Church in Clemson, S.C. “Big old dude. He’s one of those guys you see and say, ‘Man, if he could come to faith in Christ, he’s going to have a big impact on people.'”
The new Chavis is doing exactly that. Heavily involved at Crosspoint Church where he came to faith, Chavis leads a college Bible study in his home and is working on a master of divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Alabama running back Josh Jacobs and three other Crimson Tide football players provided a pleasant surprise for a 13-year-old boy while delivering a mattress and bed to a Tuscaloosa home in partnership with Calvary Baptist Church’s S.D. Allen Ministry.
Jacobs walked into the house, and the boy who lived there looked him up and down.
“Are you Josh Jacobs?” the boy asked.
Jeff Hurn, director of the S.D. Allen Ministry, noted it “was such a cool thing that somebody that these kids essentially look up to as role models, it’s something special to see them realize that those guys are real people who care as well.”
Jacobs, Hale Hentges, Miller Forristall, and Keaton Anderson, all from the Alabama football team, helped Hurn last month deliver the 1,000th bed the ministry has provided to Tuscaloosa-area residents who can’t afford such luxuries.
In a profile for Saturday Down South, Tua Tagovailoa describes how he kept calm coming into the 2018 national championship game and leading Alabama to victory.
Down 13 [points], Alabama head coach Nick Saban looked for number 13. And when his number was called, somewhere in the catacombs of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Tua thanked God for the opportunity and said a quick prayer. “All my anxiety and all my nerves calmed down,” Tua said in the AL.com video. “Nothing was too big for me. I think I was more focused on praying than anything else in the game.”
As the game unfolded and Alabama mounted a comeback for the ages, Tua continued to pray. “Every time, before series, during series, after series, the biggest thing that helped me was my faith,” Tua said. “Praying through series kept me calm.”
When Trevor Lawrence won the starting job as a true freshman at Clemson this season, he said his faith is what always helps him keep things in perspective.
“Football is important to me, obviously, but it’s not my life. It’s not the biggest thing in my life—my faith is,” Lawrence said. “No matter how big the situation is, it’s not going to define me.”
He said he doesn’t worry about what people think of him or his game. “I put my identity in what Christ says, who He thinks I am and who I know that He says I am.”
What other faith angles are you watching for in the game tonight?