We know it’s the Holy Spirit who draws people to Himself, but as believers, we have the opportunity to engage with others. We are invited by Christ to participate in His mission of drawing people toward faith in Him.
At times, our role as witnesses may seem monotonous; you might think people aren’t listening when you don’t see the fruit from your labor. But all of a sudden you may experience people telling you that they watch you in the locker room, they hear the things you talk about, or their wife has been impacted by yours in a way that is life-changing. Hearing this feedback — knowing God is using you to bring people to Him — is extremely moving. These are the moments of confirmation, knowing our obedience to His call on our lives really does pay off.
It’s really satisfying when you see your teammates who you really care about start to hunger for God, wanting to know more. Recently I was able to baptize one of my teammates and his wife, who had just committed their lives to Christ. Years prior to this I was able to get in a pool to baptize two or three of my teammates in New Orleans. These were guys I had been in Bible study with, and my wife, Kirsten, was in relationship with their wives or girlfriends, who were baptized alongside them.
It’s hard to explain how powerful these moments are. I know that what I’m able to do with them in those moments is far more important than teaching them how to block, tackle or even raise their kids. Every bit of advice I can give them pales in comparison to them coming to know Jesus and having a relationship with Him. It’s then when they realize they want to make a public declaration of their faith by being baptized in front of their peers. Having them ask me to baptize them is such a blessing. This is my mission field. Being in the NFL is my mission field; it’s where God has me. This is where I want to make the most difference.
During my time in New Orleans, there was one day when Luke McCown and I were able to baptize two of our teammates in the rehab pool in our training facility. It was New Year’s Day and we all gathered around and even sang a few songs. As a believer, this is what’s it’s all about. It’s one thing when, as a believer, you pass from death to life, repenting of your sins to become a follower of Christ. It’s another thing to decide to stand before your community and make a public display of your faith.
God doesn’t call us to live out a faith in secret; we’re called to live out a public faith, letting people see that while we are imperfect, we are following our God with a heart fully devoted to Him. Jesus told us in Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
As followers of Christ, we are called to be a light. The first step toward shining a light for Christ is to be baptized. I was baptized about 12 years old in the Chesapeake Bay after having committed my life to Christ a few years prior. I knew that baptism was not some magical moment even though it can be quite an emotional one. It is however an outward expression of an inward commitment and a sign to all of one’s death to self and rising to new life. The washing and rebirth doesn’t happen in that moment, but in the moment you surrender and place your faith in Christ.
Baptism is not what lasts, what happens inside of you is what lasts. But baptism is an act of obedience and celebration that every believer is called to by God.
— Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints Tight End
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.