[01.15.09] University of Florida (UF) star quarterback Tim Tebow not only guided his Gators to a national championship last Thursday evening, but also caused “John 3:16” to reach the “volcanic” reading on Google Trends, making it the No. 1 ranked search term on Google worldwide.
Skyrocketing past Obama, Oprah, deceased gangster John Gotti and other Top 100 trendy pop culture searches, the Bible verse about God’s love written in the two bars of eye black on Tebow’s face, took the top spot across the globe.
“What a wonderful message for Timmy to proclaim through his determination, enthusiasm and play,” said former PGA golfer Wally Armstrong, who was roommates at UF with Tebow’s father, Bob, during the 1970s. “How about having [a] cloth armband made up with HWJPF? How Would Jesus Play Football?”
Christian sports enthusiasts have been buzzing with delight ever since Tebow, the 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound son of missionary parents to the Philippines, helped UF win the national title two years ago as a freshman.
But Tebow, whose personal testimony
was featured in the October issue of Charisma
, naturally and routinely uses his fame to honor God.
“In today’s society, people look up to football players,” Tebow said. “For me, there are people watching, so I take the opportunity to [speak], because I may be the only Jesus that they see. I may be the only person that they’ll listen to. If I don’t take that opportunity to share with them, maybe no one will.”
Christians’ excitement over Tebow’s faith caused one local church in the UF hometown of Gainesville, Fla., to raise significant funds for missions work by selling hundreds of T-shirts inscribed with Tebow’s most popular eye black scripture, “Phil. 4:13,” which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV).
After achieving college football’s unprecedented feat last year— being the first to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy as a sophomore —Tebow spoke to inmates at a Florida prison where a simple, but bold message he delivered compelled 95 prisoners to surrender to Christ.
A month after his visit to the prison, Tebow spoke to a crowd of 2,000 at a stadium in Starke, Fla., near Gainesville. “You have a choice to make right now,” Tebow told the crowd. “Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart, and He wants to come in, but it is a choice that you have to make.”
He added that his greatest passion in life isn’t football, but rather telling as many people as possible about a relationship with Christ. “When I get to heaven I don’t want Jesus Christ to look at me and say, ‘Timmy, you could have told all those people, but you chose not to.’”
Tebow, who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, thrilled college football fans when he announced on Sunday that he would return to UF next year, ending speculation that he would forgo his senior year to sign on with the NFL. —Paul Steven Ghiringhelli
with Suzy Richardson
To read Charisma
’s full report on Tim Tebow, click here