New England Patriots team captain and special teams ace Matthew Slater was sitting in a Southern California church with his parents the first time he heard about Compassion International.
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“I just remember being so moved by what they were doing, connecting with children around the world that are in very adverse, poverty-stricken situations,” he said on a recent episode of Sports Spectrum’s “Weekly Slant.” “Not only do they need the Gospel, but they need basic essentials.”
Working with the organization and getting to know some of its leaders during his 14 seasons with the Patriots made Slater even more passionate about Compassion’s mission.
So the nine-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion used the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign to highlight Compassion and its Fill the Stadium initiative during New England’s 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
Tonight’s @NFL #MondayNightFootball game will be special! @Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater is lacing up these custom-designed cleats in support of helping all children in poverty thrive in their God-given potential. Thank you, Matthew! #MyCauseMyCleats pic.twitter.com/setP0tFxXg
— FilltheStadium (@Fillthe_Stadium) December 6, 2021
The goal of the initiative is to provide a year’s worth of food and other essential supplies to 70,000 kids and their families, which is the average size of a professional football stadium. Less than 4,000 “seats” remain, and donations can be made here.
Slater said on the “Weekly Slant” that learning about Compassion for the first time caused him to reflect on how blessed he was and made him want to get involved.
“I just remember thinking to myself how fortunate I was to be in the situation that I was in where I had a safe home; I didn’t have to worry about where my next meal was coming from,” he said. “I had a loving community that I was a part of. And I was just so moved by that. My heart was broken for those children.”
Selected by the Patriots in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, Slater is one of the strongest voices in New England’s locker room. His leadership skills were tested when the team got off to a 2-4 start this season, and he used the opportunity to provide a Biblical perspective on the situation.
“For me, it was a great time for us to talk about dealing with adversity,” Slater said on “Weekly Slant.” “Romans 5 and James 1 were certainly passages that came to mind, and being able to kind of use the messaging there and present it to the team.”
The Patriots have not lost since, with Monday’s victory against the Bills in brutal conditions giving them the AFC’s best record (9-4) through 13 weeks. New England threw the ball just three times and relied heavily on its rushing attack — which produced 222 yards — due to the windy weather.
Wild WINd. pic.twitter.com/6yhKGydvkM
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 7, 2021
With his faith at the center of everything he does, Slater used a memorable night playing in primetime to spread the love of Christ and encourage others to help him love those in need through Compassion.
“When I think about all that God has done in my life, I’m just absolutely floored,” he said on the show. “Just the fact that we get to have daily fellowship with Him and have a relationship with Him is something that leaves me in awe constantly.”
New England now gets a chance to rest during its bye week before heading to Indianapolis for a rare Saturday night game against the Colts on Dec. 18.
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