Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

As MLS returns, Philadelphia's Ray Gaddis trusts Christ for racial change

After a lengthy delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLS will finally return to action on Wednesday with the start of the MLS Is Back Tournament. It will be held without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World near Orlando, and it will count toward MLS’s regular season standings.

Things will almost certainly look and feel very different for the fans and the players, but a return to live soccer is welcome.

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One of the teams taking the field on Thursday is the Philadelphia Union, who stood at 0-1-1 when play was suspended back on March 12. Although Ray Gaddis, a defender on the Union, hasn’t played an MLS game for a couple of months, he has been active in his efforts to push for racial change in the United States. He is even a board member of the recently formed Black Players Coalition of the MLS.

“We’re advocating to break down barriers, not only within the soccer world, but also educationally, also in the medical field, also day-to-day things that people have to go through that look like me,” Gaddis said in June during a Zoom call with reporters.

The nine-year MLS veteran, Philadelphia’s all-time leader in minutes played and a West Virginia University alumnus is vocal about his passion for the cause on social media, often citing Scripture and attesting to God’s infinite power to change people’s hearts.

“Normalizing changing the way you think or the way you were taught after learning new information is okay. I promise. God has transformed me and I am undergoing change daily!”

Gaddis then quoted the Bible verse Romans 12:2.

Gaddis, who reads the Bible before every game, thanked God in his postgame press conference after setting the Philadelphia Union’s all-time minutes played record.

“Glory be to God, first and foremost,” he said. “I just thank Him for giving me the ability and I thank the coaches for thinking of me for the opportunity to play minutes.”

In 2018, the official website for the Philadelphia Union asked Gaddis why he derives so much hope from his faith in Christ.

“I relate that in a sense of no matter the obstacle, opposition or roadblock that you have in life, you know that God is for you,” Gaddis explained. “It’s just a matter of time before you complete the divine purpose that God has for your life.”

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.” — Romans 12:2

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