Archive for July, 2012

Jennifer Pinches: A Gymnast for God

Posted: July 26, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in 2012, Olympics

Source: Adam Pretty/Getty Images AsiaPac – October 7th, 2011

After waiting four years, the Olympics are finally almost here. On Friday night, the two week long party kicks off in London, England for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The Olympics is one of my favorite sporting events because of all the nationalistic pride that is involved and the hard work that all these Olympians have put in for these four years to get a chance at their one shining moment.

Yes, I am pulling for the United States in basically every event, but there is one event where that might just not be the case. As I was coming up with more interview topics for you guys, I thought about trying to find an Olympian who was serving Christ with their talent. Last month, I was able, by God’s grace, to get in contact with such a person and it was a blessing to talk to her.

Her name is Jennifer Pinches. Pinches is eighteen year old from Bristol, United Kingdom. She will be competing in artistic gymnastics for Great Britain. In June, she competed at the British Championships in Liverpool to try to qualify to the national team. It turned out she had great success, which included a second place finish in the all-around competition and a gold medal on the balance beam. It is amazing to see the hard work she has put in and even serving Christ while doing it is amazing and makes you just want to praise God for it!

So, here is my interview with Olympic Gymnast Jennifer Pinches:

1. How did you come to know the Lord?

Jen: I was dedicated by my parents when I was little (instead of Christened) and given the opportunity to go to church and Sunday school each week when I was growing up. I am lucky in the respect that I have been given an easy route to knowing God, rather than having to discover Christianity without my family support, which I think is becoming increasingly difficult nowadays. It seems tome that in our society today, many people say they’re ‘a Christian’ simply because they say they’ve been christened, but most people haven’t actually been given the opportunity to learn and get to really know God or go to church with their parents, other than maybe when they were little or with school or onoccasions like Christmas day…

 Also, places I have been on holiday such as Spring Harvest festival in Mineheadhave given me the chance to really explore my faith and ultimately become closer to God!

 2. Who have been some of your role models on and off the mat?

J: My biggest role model is my dad, who copes with an extremely hectic life looking after me and my three little brothers and working, yet always has a positive outlook and smile. He helps me stay sane through my training and home life, and I couldn’t have achieved what I have so far without his support. He also plays the piano at our church on Sundays occasionally.

In gymnastics, gymnasts I look up to are… Beth Tweddle and Hannah Whelan my training partners and Beijing 2008 Olympians (of course). They have great attitudes to the sport and are so talented too! Other gymnasts I love to watch include Aliya Mustafina of Russia, Youna Dufournet of France and (although nowretired) Shawn Johnson of the USA.

 3. What is your favorite Bible verse and how has it exemplified your walk withChrist?

J: I don’t have one favorite but here’s one I like that could be relating to sport:

‘Philippians 4:13- “I can do everything through him who gives me

strength.”

 4. You are 18 and living for Christ. Talk about your walk with Christ as a teenager and if you had any fellowship opportunities on the mat as well.

 J: Unfortunately, religion has not touched the life of any of the other gymnasts I know. I have been able to introduce my boyfriend to Christianity however as hewas brought up in an agnostic environment where religion was never considered!

5. You live in England and are on the British team. Talk about the atmosphere in England as the London Olympics begin next month?

J:  I am in the gym training 6 days and over 30 hours a week so I am generally sheltered from the growing public interest and excitement building ahead of the Olympics but this is good as focusing on my training is the most important thing I can do in order to hopefully achieve my dream of performing well at the London 2012 Games. It seems the Olympic Games are being talked about everywhere you go at the moment though, in shops, on the news… I really hope that Britain will get behind our selected athletes this year and enjoy it!

6. If someone came up to you and were curious about your faith, what would you say to them?

 J: I would tell them a little about myself but then suggest that if they are interested in Christianity they should try out their local church or find some Bible notes and start reading the Bible- the best place to start must be to read the most important stories and messages in the world in the Bible!

 We, at Jesus N Sports, wish Jennifer the best of luck at the 2012 London Games! We pray that she does her absolute best and that to always remember that whether in success or in failure, to God be the Glory!

Advertisements

Steve Cishek: Setting Up For The Lord

Posted: July 11, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews, MLB

(Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Coming into the season, one of the more intriguing storylines around Major League Baseball was the newly formed Miami Marlins. They got a new stadium, a new manager, and brought in some big money free-agent signings in shortstop Jose Reyes, closer Heath Bell, and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle.

As we are in the All-Star Break of the baseball season, Miami has gone through many ups and downs. Some of those include manager Ozzie Guillen’s comments about Fidel Castro, their winning record in May, and Bell’s six blown saves in the first half.

For this interview, I wanted to hear from someone in the organization to reflect on their faith and the Miami Marlins. I reached out to set up man Steve Cishek. Cishek has been in the Major Leagues for two seasons and the 26-year-old righty has had the best season of his career so far

In the first half, he went 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA and one save. In 37.1 innings, he had a 2:1 K:BB ratio and only gave up nine earned runs. This includes a 0.56 ERA in the month of July so far. He is unique with his sidearm delivery, but his faith is what makes him a unique individual off the field.

This is my Q+A with Steve that we did a couple of weeks ago:

1. How did you come to know the Lord?

Steve: When I went to Carson-Newman college (Baptist School) I was introduced to FCA and those people that worshipped every tuesday showed me an amazing deal I was missing out on. I was shown through a friend that since I do not have Jesus I can’t make it into heaven and she and one of my team mates brought me to FCA and eventually helped me pray for forgiveness.

2. Who have been some Christian role models on and off the field for you during your walk with Christ?

S: Definitely one of my best friends, A.J. Battisto who is one of the strongest Christians I know. He is rehabbing an injury for the marlins. Also Chris Coghlan has been very encouraging and we have had some great studies together. Our chaplain Chris Lane is also amazing. He takes time to drive 40 minutes out of his way to teach us and guide us in the word for Bible Studies and Sunday Chapel services. 

3. What is your favorite Bible Verse? Why and how has it exemplified your walk?

S: Colossians 3:23. I carry it in my back pocket when I pitch every game. It reminds me that when I am pitching, I can’t pitch to impress our coaches of staff or any team mates. I’m working for God’s glory. With good outings or bad outings he doesn’t care how I pitch. No matter what He loves me. So it takes an enormous amount of pressure off me to perform for a crowd or coaches. And good outing or terrible outing I always thank the Lord for what he has done in my life and for allowing for me to play baseball.
4. Do you feel religion and sports can co-exist today? Talk about the fellowship you have had in the clubhouse whether its with the Miami Marlins or in the minor leagues
S: Christianity and sports can co-exist yes. As ball players we have an amazing platform to be an example of Christian faith. People are always seeing what we do and if we live it out people notice and ask. It is a great platform to share our faith and what Jesus has done for us. The only tough thing is no one is perfect, and since fans watch our every move we sometimes fail, so we need to be careful.

5. If a teammate or coach came up to you wanting to know about your faith, what would you tell them?
S: I would tell them I am a Christian and if they had the time I’d share the gospel with them.

6. How has the first year been in Miami for you guys so far?

S: It has been a blessing. I love the stadium, minus the Cleavender haha. But it is a great atmosphere and a beautiful park. Also Miami is a great city and living here has been great.

7. Talk about what it is like playing for a manager like Ozzie Guillen .

S: It is great. He is everything you want in a coach. He has our backs, and he loves family. When you aren’t performing to his expectations he lets you know it. And he likes to keep it light. We play hard for Him because we know he demands it from us and I hope that will never change. He has been great for the team.

We at Jesus N Sports wish Mr. Cishek best of luck going forward and continue to pray for his walk with the Lord and pray for the Miami Marlins to play the best they can in the 2nd half as well as glorifying the Lord Jesus on and off the field.

You can follow Steve on Twitter: @srSHREK31