South Asian Connection is co-partnering with the TheGoal.com in highlighting world-class South Asian Christian athletes. These exceptional young men and women love sports. But more important than sports is their unsurpassing love for God. "But one thing I do...I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 3:14. Read on and be inspired by 3 South Asian athletes as they share their personal successes, struggles and setbacks in their life stories.
Yousef Youhanna (Pakistan)
I believe that God is the source of every good thing. Any talent that I may have comes from God. But I still need to pray and ask people to pray for me and I need to read the Bible regularly in order to grow and develop as a person.
Shiny Wilson (India)
Shiny set the track ablaze for India in the eighties, winning many Asian gold's and establishing records. She was one of Asia's finest 400 metres and 800 metres contestants. A veteran of four Olympics, Shiny was declared the best woman athlete at the SAF games in Chennai in 1995.
Being accused of changing lanes in the middle of an international event can happen to a track star. It happened to Shiny Wilson in the 800 metres during the 1986 Asian Games. Her desire to win did not surpass her desire for honesty. She admitted her mistake. She did her part by making a frank and honest confession of what happened. She did not worry about what people were thinking or what they would be saying about her. She continued to look ahead towards the next event.
What is the secret to such strength of character, resilience and single-minded purpose?
She attributes it to Jesus. She says, "Jesus has helped me in every situation. He has been my strength and guide." Prayer has been a consistent part of her life and national fame has only strengthened this part of her relationship with God.
Her parents encouraged her to get involved in sports at a young age. Hard work has paid off for Shiny. Her parents encouragement, her determination and a close relationship with God have all played a part in her achievements. She has represented India in over seventy events.
Shiny says, "I pray before every event. If there are others in the camp who share my faith, we spend time reading the Bible and praying together. There is a great sense of togetherness in these camps. Even those of different faiths join us when we pray together."
Her career as an athlete has seen disappointments but there have also been great accomplishments. She has had the privilege or participating in three Olympics Games: Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona. She was the captain of the Indian Contingent in the Barcelona Olympics. She has also represented the country in three Asian Games and has won a gold, two silvers and a bronze. In the Asian Track and Field meets, she won 7 gold's, 6 silvers and 2 bronze. She received the Arjuna Award in 1984 and then was given the Chinese Journalist Award which is given to the 10 best sports persons in Asia. She became the Asian champion after having a baby. She views this as her greatest achievement.
Her husband, Wilson, is also an athlete. He is her most consistent strength and support. Apart from her husbands support, she attributes her success to her God-given abilities and the power of God behind her.
Stephen S.D. (India)
Stephen S.D., better known as "Steve" is a body builder. His parents were very critical of his interest in this sport because they saw the sport being used by street gangs. Luckily, for Steve, his uncle saw his potential for a body building career and encouraged him in the sport. His parents stopped opposing him when they saw him win University and State trophies and so became his avid supporters.
Steve accepted Christ as a young boy. He learned a hard lesson for he falsely thought that if he feared God, God would make him do well in his high school exams. But he fared quite badly. The lesson he learned was that he has to do his part. God, however, opened other avenues for him where he has done well. He now coaches body builders and has started a number of fitness centers.
Steve makes an honest confession, "I became very successful in starting fitness centers all over Bangalore. My priorities changed. I began to allow money to dictate my decisions rather than depending on Jesus." His partners in business let him down. He ran up huge debts which finally forced him to close down all but one center. Desperate to pay off the loans he became involved in a second business venture. Confident that his name would attract business, he had banners placed everywhere that read, "Steve's Gym."
To his discomfort, no one wanted to join his new center. He realized that once again he had placed himself in front of Jesus. When he allowed Jesus the rightful place in his life, his circumstances began to change and miracles began to happen. He was able to revive the old gym, the proceeds of which were enough to clear all debts. He began expanding his business, but at each step he looked to God for guidance. Today, Steve has over 7 centers and more in the making. He gives thanks to Jesus in whom he found the true source and meaning of power