Wells Thompson: Scoring A Goal With The Gospel

Posted: February 22, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews, MLS

(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Wells Thompson, a midfielder from the Colorado Rapids if he wanted to answer some questions for me about Major League Soccer, but most importantly, his faith in the Lord. I am not the biggest soccer fan in the world, but this interview not only helped me learn more about the game, but gave me great words of encouragement to carry with me while on my walk with Christ! We prayed on the phone afterwards and it was just great to find someone in another sport who shares the Gospel on the field and is honoring God with that performance.

Let me give you some background on Wells before I share his answers with you:

Thompson grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and played his college soccer at nearby Wake Forest University. He was drafted in the first round with the fifth pick by the New England Revolution in 2007. He won an Eastern Conference Championship during his three years there. In January of 2010, Thompson was dealt to his current team, the Colorado Rapids in a four player deal. In his time with the Rapids, Thompson has scored five total goals and has been part of a team in 2010 that won the MLS Cup, the most prestigious team title in American soccer.

Now to the questions both about soccer and the Christian Faith:

1. How did you come to know the Lord?

Wells:  I grew up in the church of North Carolina in the Bible belt.  My Parents were believers. I Gave my life to Christ as a young kid. When I was young, I got involved in church with his brother and sister. However, I ddn’t personally do it till junior in college when I went to mission trip in Dominican Republic with his friends. I didn’t fully realize what God did for us till about age 21 and 22.

2. Who are your Christian role models? How did they help you on your walk?

W:  I didn’t think living for Christ was cool. When I was a kid, I started to experiment with stuff at a young age. I got involved with drugs and alcohol. This made my parents send to a school for troubled teens in upstate New York (Family Foundation School). My role models are recent guys like Tim Tebow and how he lives his life as an athlete for Christ. There are so many examples of people who don’t live for God today. It is so awesome to have a guy like Tebow who stands up for what he believes in and he is anointed by the Lord. I wear number 15 just like Tebow.Another role model is  Billy Graham, being from North Carolina. He has done so much for the Kingdom. My family members have extremely importat – blest with 2 Christian loving parents that have stuck with him through thick and thin. My extended family as well – his cousins, aunts and uncles.

3. How has the platform God gave you helped you to honor Him more?

W: When I do interviews and appearances, it feels like a reality check. I get a chance to praise the Lord because He makes me what I am today. God gives us all a platform. I convey to kids that I’m not any more special because I gets paid to play soccer. We are all special in his eyes whether you are a janitor, hotel maid, or a soccer player. Everyone has a circle of influence that they can use God in their lives. Only true to living when we use what God has blessed us with to His glory. I listened to Tebow when he was asked how he influences teammates. He answered it was more about the actions in his life. If you don’t live what you say, people aren’t going to pay attention. I give back, ad love one another whether it is serving in Africa, Nicaragua, and local Denver community. You can be a missionary to everyone, whether its people at soccer field or people at grocery store.

4. What verse in the Bible has stuck the most out to you during your walk?

W: John 3:30 (“He must increase, but I must decrease.”)I put that on my  heart and my wife’s heart. I opened up my first soccer camp this past offseason. As a professional athlete, you can be elevated in society and people listen to you because you get paid to play a sport. God gives me that verse to help keep him humble to say that it is not about Wells Thompson. It is not for my own personal gain or self-righteous reason, but to help others and use what he has given me for good. Whether it is through soccer or relationships through soccer, Jesus Christ is in all and IS ALL! People upstate say how proud of me they are, but I tell them it is all about Jesus and He gets all the glory.

5. What advice would you give people who are trying to find the Lord?

W: We claim things with our mouth and don’t live them out with our actions. We are going to relapse because we are not perfect. People that aren’t believers, it goes back to being with Christ is a relationship, not a religion. Jesus Christ loves us and it is not because of anything that we have done. We sometimes fall into ideas that we have to do certain things to be loved by Jesus. If we just keep Jesus into the focal point of everything, we will be okay. My advice is Talk to the Lord and PRAY! If I have believers in my life, talk to them and discuss the faith with them.  Always tell people about Jesus and what he’s done for you, but only use words when necessary. Christ is different! People take notice when you live for Christ! Why do you have joy amidst trials? What I’ve learned is we can get in Jesus’ way by talking too much. He just wants us to be there to love someone. Open your eyes and the Lord is everywhere!

There are people of all faith on the Colorado Rapids – times after practice, teammates will ask me about Dinosaurs and things. Just because I believe what Bible says, doesn’t mean that I know everything. It helps me to learn more about the faith and to study. You are always living and learning in the faith because it’s a process and a journey! Sometimes, we need to shut up and listen.

6. Not a lot of people in the USA are into soccer.  Can you convince them on why they should give the MLS a chance?

W: The MLS gets better and better every year. David Beckham has been awesome for the league. Thierry Henry is here, one of the best attackers in the world. Soccer is getting better. MLS has been a top quality league, but it is second fiddle in America to all the other sports. You can’t blow it off here anymore because of the level of talent. It has peaked, especially if you live in a MLS city. Every kid has played soccer and there is a drop off when they get into high school. There are a lot of big name guys and whole lot of people are into it. One of those players is our captain, defensive midfielder Pablo Mastroeni.

7. What was your immediate reaction after you won the MLS Cup in 2010?

W: I Won the US Open Cup in his rookie year. We went to the MLS Cup championship that year and lost. It is what you work for in your whole life. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity. I was ecstatic and had one of those feelings you can’t describe.  There are several brothers on the team and we meet for a Bible Study. I met with our team chaplain after the title game and got down on one knee with friend Jamie Smith, a teammate from Scotland. I talked about how awesome it was, but it pales in comparison to being in heaven with the Lord and experiencing that glory. In worldly terms, it is what we look for. Athletes count on these titles to fulfill them, but they aren’t fulfilling. It doesn’t define who you are on a person. Life is not about winning or losing! People get caught up in how much sports play a factor in our lives.

8. What is the one thing you are looking to improve on this season?

W: Not trying to re-discover the game, but trying to get better. I am working on my weaker foot. When you get older, 6th year in the league, you have to work on the mental side of the game. I have to believe in myself and living out the faith that I claim to have on the soccer field. There are games I don’t play the whole game in or don’t start or don’t make a contribution, but I have to continue to work hard in practice and believe in myself. We have a new coach this year. Oscar {Oscar Pareja} is a great guy and we are changing our formations. I have to Figure out my role in the new system and adjust to it.

9.      What should we expect from the Colorado Rapids in 2012?

W: I am a blue-collar player. When people line up against me, I’m going to give it everything I got. This defines the attitude of the team. We have that skill and the coach instills in us to have an attacking style to the game. This is a style that Americans would enjoy more because it puts the opposing team under more high pressure. The team is balanced.  Our Goalkeeper is a veteran for nine years. On the back line (Marvel Wynn), could be running back in the NFL. Our best defender is Drew Moore – Wynn and Moore have a great partnership. Our captain Pablo Mastrani, who has played in 2 World Cups is35-36 years old but he is phenomenal. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz  was traded to Colorado with me from the New England Revolution. Injuries hurt uslast year. Omar Cummings, one of their best goalscorers, is a humble person and ready to play. There are a lot of new players who need that chance from the coach, but there are a lot of players who won the title from 2010 still on the team.  We are very confident in this team!

The Rapids begin their season on March 10th against the Columbus Crew. We, at Jesus N Sports, wish Wells the best of luck this year and that pray that the Lord continues to strengthen him in his quest to honor Jesus Christ in everything he does.

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