We talked with professional soccer player Anna Beffer, who plays in France for AS Pierrots Vauban, about her faith journey, how she’s living in the increase of Christ, and the mentors who have impacted her life. Here’s what she had to say:
What effect does your faith have on your lifestyle?
Being in a different country, where I don’t speak the language, has been a big adjustment. The way I’m able to communicate and relate to the people around me is very different from what I’m used to. As a result, I’ve spent a lot more time alone with the Lord and I’ve found myself needing to rely on Him more and more. In the States, I had a great community with friends who could push me closer to Christ and hold me accountable. Here, I don’t have that. It’s challenged me to make myself personally accountable to the Lord, spending more time with Him. Since coming to France, my faith in Christ has really grown and been stretched more than ever before. I’ve found myself relying on Him in a deeper, more rich way, and as a result, I’ve learned more about who He is and who I am in light of that.
Describe how your journey with Christ began.
I remember being in elementary school when I raised my hand in church one Sunday to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. Though I put my hand up, I didn’t understand the significance of this decision or what I was really committing to. Not having grown up going to church often, I had a lot of questions. I was never really told what faith in God was all about.
When I was approached by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader in my high school, I started attending their meetings. My two best friends were very involved there so I figured I would go with them. During my sophomore year I went to a weeklong Christian camp in Oklahoma called “Falls Creek.” That week was the first time I felt comfortable enough to ask the questions I had about faith. I was around people I knew cared about me. The whole time the Lord was pulling at my heart, and I knew this was the time to commit my life to the Lord. And it was the best thing I ever did! That week I learned a lot about the Bible and how I could follow the Lord.
When I went away to college, I continued to grow in my faith and knowledge of the Lord, and it was there that I really learned about having a relationship with Jesus Christ. That was big for me. I discovered how important it is to actually know Him and be in relationship with Him. By discovering who He is, I can trust that He does have a plan for my life and has my best interest in mind, even if His plan is not what I think I want or need at the time.
I still have questions at times, but I believe that’s all part of the process of growing closer to Christ.
Who have been the mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
My high school FCA leader, Doc Blevins, played a big role in my life. He always wanted to know about me; he was very intentional about supporting me in my sport, school and faith in Christ. I think that’s what ultimately brought me to find the Lord. I felt so comfortable and so loved by him for who I was. With Doc I could be vulnerable and ask the questions I wanted to ask.
I had some great friends in high school as well who really supported me and helped me find my way to Christ. Since then, I met my best friend, Claire. She has been the biggest influencer in my faith and growth in Christ. She knows me personally and always helps me stay rooted and grounded in my faith. She was a big spiritual influence and I still to this day call her and keep in touch.
Mrs. Peterson was another one — she was a calculus teacher of mine who did a weekly Bible study with me.
What does the increase of Christ mean to you?
During my senior year in college I was really hung up on who I needed to be as an athlete and the numbers I needed to produce. My life was centered around my team and how I competed as an athlete. It was exhausting and I finally realized I could never meet the expectations I was placing on myself. I realized I would never be enough, but God is. And to God, I am enough. That’s when I realized that I’m a child of God, not just an athlete. Once I discovered this, it changed how I viewed sports and everything else in life. I was suddenly identified as a child of God — a child of the Kingdom. I knew then that no matter what happened, I could go out and play my best and at the end of the day, I was thankful and at peace.
This time in my life really reflected the truth of John 3:30. I decreased what I had known and how I viewed myself my whole life. And as my own identity decreased, Christ’s identity in me increased. Realizing my identity was not found only in being an athlete was a big thing for me. And I believe this kickstarted my pursuit of a professional soccer career because I found the confidence I needed. I knew there was more to my life than numbers. God gave me the freedom to enjoy the game and my new life in Christ much, much more.
What is your life verse and why?
In middle school was the first time I saw the verse Hebrews 12:1 and it stuck with me ever since:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
I wasn’t a devoted follower of Christ at the time, but something about this truth stuck. Ever since coming to know Christ and His truth, this verse has remained a huge foundation for me. It reminds me to stay focused on Him because He has a plan. I’m meant to run the race He has for me and trust in Him alone.
Every time I read this verse I read it differently, discovering new truths as the Lord continually transforms my mind and my life to be more like His.
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.