My relationship with Jesus is the most important thing to me and has been ever since I was a kid. I was born into a Christian home and had a very strong Christian background and upbringing. I do believe that the Lord is my strength in whatever I do. I always pray for Him to take control and I always thank Him for each and everything which has come about.
Now and again we do need to be reminded of things. I need to focus on the things that we believe in and reading the Bible reminds me of the true values that I should be pursuing.
The Lord is my strength. As Christians we need to have courage as the Bible says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Discipline is also a priority in my life and being a Christian helps and disciplines you automatically.
Saramma Matthew (India)
Faith plays an important part in Saramma Matthew's life. Saramma is a well known athlete. She has had a career spanning 12 years in the International and National track and field events. She has several gold medals and the Arjuna Award to her credit.
Reflecting on the importance of faith she says, "I believe my faith in Christ has sustained me so long in athletics. I learned to place my trust in Christ as a child at home, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School." She further says, "I commit myself to Christ every time I participate in an athletic event. My help comes from the Lord who has created the heaven and the earth." Faith for Saramma is not just an inner feeling of confidence. It is based on the Word of God and her personal experience.
Just like her career, her marriage to her husband, Jossy Matthew is nurtured through her faith in Jesus and the Bible. Saramma believes firmly that Jesus also sustains her marriage, just as Jesus also sustains her in athletics. She says, "unless the Lord builds the house, it's builders labor in vain." Her marriage to Jossy and success in her professional life would not have been possible without spiritual discipline and hard work.
She says, "our faith can be compared with running. Personal discipline is an absolute pre-requisite for both winning a race and growing in faithfulness to Jesus Christ." Saramma also believes that reading the Bible and personal obedience to God's commands are necessary aspects of her Christian life.
Sebastian Xavier (India)
Sebastian Xavier loved traveling. He took up swimming so he could travel with school friends to competitions.
As a young boy he used to swim in the backwaters of Kerala in South India. This early practice in swimming laid a solid foundation on which his professional career was built. His father and coach spotted his talent and encouraged him to continue in swimming. Sebastian broke into the national scene in 1991, when he set 4 national records.
Sebastian recalls, "I was ecstatic and indescribably happy." Having been taught to look beyond the present, Sebastian set his eyes on the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima. Twice a day he swam fifteen kilometers in preparation for the games. Sebastian willingly invested his time in hope of reaching his goal.
On the day of the trials, Sebastian exploded into a flurry of strokes. His mind and body worked in perfect harmony. His goal was the finish line. Everyone assumed that he would qualify. Though he made a new personal record, he was still .02 seconds short of the prescribed qualifying time for the 50 metre free style. The next day's newspapers announced the team going to Hiroshima. His name was not on it.
Recalling the event, Sebastian says, "I broke down and cried." He was not able to achieve what everyone hoped and expected him. He further says, "In this time of crisis, I could not turn to any of my close friends because they were in pain and shock. So I turned to Jesus. My faith in Jesus, my Savior and Lord, helped me to see the opportunities beyond my disappointment." Hiroshima is behind him. Sebastian, today says, "I kept on striving until the next meet."
His positive and progressive approach was rewarded when he won six gold medals and two silver medals in the 1995 South Asian Federation Games. Looking back at this success, he is quick to give all glory to Jesus; "Jesus is the secret of my success. I am never ashamed of making this confession."
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