Athlete Profiles:

Jeff Francoeur

Joshua 1:9 tells us to be strong and courageous, not terrified or discouraged, because the Lord is with us wherever we go. This verse has inspired Jeff Francoeur of the Atlanta Braves, enough so that he put "Joshua 1:9" on his batting gloves. The verse encouraged him at a time in 2004 when Francoeur did not even know if he would play baseball again. Now he shares it as an outreach by throwing his gloves out to kids at games.

Francoeur has more potential than he may even know. According to veteran Braves pitcher John Smoltz, he has the ability to become the next baseball great. Francoeur brings positive energy and his best game each time he plays, winning the praise of manager Bobby Cox and coach Terry Pendleton. He's moved up quickly in his sport, but it's not most important in his life. He learned that sports couldn't fill the void he felt-only a relationship with Jesus Christ could.

Regardless of how much fame Francoeur experiences in this world, he knows it cannot last forever. "[This world] is not our home," he says. "Our home is in heaven, and this is what I want everyone to understand."


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Tim Tebow

TEBOW / MCCOY
As the current quarterbacks for the last two national championship teams, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow have taken center stage in two of the most intensely scrutinized college football programs in America. Even as sophomores, this concept is not lost on McCoy and Tebow. They know they are being watched. They also know that with the immediate access they have to so many people, the opportunities to be a model and a spokesperson for Jesus Christ are preeminent. "In some places it's not the cool thing to do or the popular thing to be and God is not No. 1," says McCoy.

Tebow and McCoy were both hatched from close-knit, deeply Christian upbringings that saw them come to faith at an early age. Tim Tebow's fater, Bob Tebow, heads the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, which claims to be the conduit of close to 9 million people coming to faith in Christ in the last 8 years.

An NFL career is a goal for both of these young quarterbacks, but they are realistic enough to know there are no guarantees. McCoy looks forward to what God has in store. "God willing, I'd like to be in the NFL, but the important thing to do is His will."

Shaun Alexander

ALEXANDER
Whether Shaun Alexander spends his Sunday morning wearing a football jersey on a field or a suit in a pew, he's the same guy. "Shaun is a Christian 24/7," says close friend and teammate Mack Strong. "He's a great example. It's a testimony to him, to God."

Alexander has made a lasting name for himself in the NFL. The accomplishments and praises he's received are only dreams for many. He's not surprised by his success; he's always set lofty goals and worked hard. Now he's a household name, but he says, "This is no time to say, 'Look at me.'" That's because, for Alexander, it's not just about football. "I play football to make a difference in people's lives."

The difference he wants to make is a difference for Christ. He has a heart for providing hope, especially for youth, and giving to others as unto the Lord. That's the purpose of his foundation and the community center he started with his brother. "You can't outgive God," he says.

The best day in his life? Being valedictorian of his graduating class? Setting NFL records? Becoming 2005 MVP? No. "It was the first time I led someone to Christ," says Alexander. What else would we expect?

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