When I was younger, I got into football because I wasn’t sure what else to do. I graduated college and was drafted in 2011 by the New England Patriots. The world and everything around me was telling me to make tons of money. To strive to win championships. Since then, I have won two Super Bowls with the Patriots and currently play for the New York Giants.
But I found myself feeling very empty. What was the point of it all?
Then a friend of mine who was chaplain for my team began raising me up in the Word of God. It opened a whole new world for me. I began to find hope and meaning in Christ. I married my wife, Lexi, and together we now have two children. In making Jesus real in my life, my friend didn’t just give me a helpful resource. He literally brought me from death to life.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was scary and threatened me physically. But without Jesus, it would have been so much scarier and more devastating. Then in 2015, my son, Hudson, was also diagnosed with cancer. He is still undergoing treatment.
Going through this experience with Hudson, even with all the medical resources available, was so difficult. I can’t imagine the families going through something similar, but without access to the resources they need to help their children survive.
That’s why my wife Lexi and I are so passionate about helping children survive.
After I began to explore my faith, I started questioning whether I should even continue in football. It all seemed so petty when money and winning is your sole pursuit. But after thinking it over, I came to the conclusion that God gave me unique abilities so that I can earn money and give back to those who are in need.
Now my wife and I have a whole new life purpose.
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The reason I play football is clearer than ever: to give to others.
I experienced that life purpose in tangible ways when Lexi and I recently visited Uganda. We traveled with Compassion International to visit churches who are serving people in extreme poverty. It was amazing.
Though the people we visited were financially poor, they were so rich in other ways, like their love for one another. We visited homes where they had nothing, working as subsistence farmers trying to survive day to day, but they were giving us gifts. Their hearts were so generous, and it was humbling and profound.
In Uganda, we learned the importance of teamwork in fighting poverty.
I’ve had opportunities to play on awesome teams. The guys on those teams weren’t searching for their own glory or recognition. They were more excited when their teammates were making great plays, cheering them on. That’s how things work best, when we each play our role and support each other through it.
It’s like what the Bible says about the parts of the Body of Christ. We don’t all play the role of the hands or of the eyes. We all play different roles. In Uganda, they don’t need me there — they have brilliant, qualified people doing the work. What they need is a support crew.
They’re the players. We’re the fans and supporters of the team.
That’s why our family decided to help fund Compassion-assisted child development centers in Uganda and Burkina Faso, where some of the poorest of the poor live. We also helped to fund a center in Thailand, where churches are using sports programs, like soccer, to prevent children from being trafficked into the sex trade.
Through these centers, children receive not only vital physical care, but spiritual care as well.
Because even if you have nothing but Jesus, you have hope.
That’s what sticks with you even when everything else is gone. When I was in Uganda, I saw people clinging to their faith, just as I had learned to in my family’s battles with cancer. The people I met were pinning their hopes and dreams on God in a way you don’t always see in the U.S.
Raising our kids in American culture worries me. It’s hard not to get caught up in the materialism and selfishness all around us. So to see another way of living in Uganda and seeing how God is so alive to those families made a huge impact on us. It impacts our daily life to look beyond our own small problems. Now we sponsor five kids, and we pray for them daily.
Helping others is our life mission and what we will always do as a family.
It’s so easy to take for granted what we spend our money on — our Netflix account or ordering out for food. But it’s amazing how a small amount to us can make such a big impact on someone’s life. We get caught up in our own lives, but we can make a life-and-death difference in someone else’s life.