The Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Lynx held their seasonal “Faith and Family Night” at their respective venues recently. After the games, fans were invited to stay and listen to players and others who shared their faith.
After our usual post-game quote gathering, the MSR got the chance to hear the Twins’ Torii Hunter, and Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx, unabashedly share their testimonies on the field, and on the court — two places not normally known for religious-themed happenings.
These two local pro athletes showed that they can be as bullish about their religious convictions as they are in their respective star-status positions. Hunter and Moore didn’t preach like Billy Graham or Aimee Semple McPherson, but each had something to say and was well received by those who stayed around after the games.
“I didn’t grow up in great conditions. I grew up around gangs,” said Hunter, who’s from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. “But my mom always made us get up [on Sunday] and go to church. We had to go to church and Sunday School.”
But he got older, and especially as he was embarking on his professional baseball career, Hunter said he strayed from his mom’s spiritual teachings to do his own thing. “I got away from what my mother instilled in us,” he said. Reflecting on his time in the minors, Hunter said he got lonely “and started hanging out with the guys. Go[ing] to the bars…I had a lot of fun and got away from” his mom’s spiritual influence.
Hunter soon found that was a waste of his life, and almost at the same time, “My mom sent me a children’s book of Bible stories. I would read it on bus rides, which would be eight or 10 hours to different places; and I would sit on the bus and read it. I really got back into my Word and started to believe,” continued the longtime major leaguer, husband and father of four.
John 3:16, as well as 2 Timothy 2:15 became seared into his brain, said Hunter. “That stuck with me,” he said. “I started to study the Word,” especially the Gospels.
Hunter reminded the small post-game crowd of the significance of Jesus Christ in his life. “[It’s] awesome,” he said. “When you walk with Him, and study those books — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; [and]…get a chance to walk with the Lord, and really understand what He went through. Not just read it, but believe it in your heart — that’s when you know you’ll be saved.”
“The Bible is so cool,” proclaimed Moore, who spoke to the post-Lynx vs. Indiana crowd Friday night. “The stories are phenomenally consistent.”
Moore said she didn’t hang out with gangs, but she and her mother moved around a lot when she was in middle school. Too often she was “the new girl,” which made her more guarded and unable to trust too many folk. She had “a lot of struggles,” she recalled.
Her life changed for the better when she joined a church as a teenager: “I got to experience God in an awesome church,” said Moore.
As an example of the power of faith, the Lynx forward asked for a volunteer, and a young girl stepped forward. Moore asked her to turn her back to her and fall backwards. The girl trusted her and did as she was told and never hit the floor.
That was “blind faith,” Moore noted. “Faith is an active experience.”
Both players received applause after their brief remarks. “We root for one person here, and that’s Jesus Christ,” concluded Hunter. “I love you guys and I am glad to be back home, talking about the Lord and glorify[ing] Him.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.