Photos provided by: Ryan Mathews

Ryan Mathews, Oakland A’s, Baseball

by carmine on May 26, 2012



 

 

By: John Van vliet

Spotlight Athlete Archive

 

Sometimes, it takes some fellowship and a step of faith to get our walk with the Lord in motion. That is what happened to Oakland Athletics’ draftee Ryan Mathews. The outfielder in the A’s organization had grown up in the church his whole life, but it was not until he got connected with other believers that his life would be transformed totally for God. After growing up in Florida, Ryan played his collegiate baseball at North Carolina State. Injuries and an appendectomy forced him to sit out the 2010 season and most of the 2011 season. Ryan was able to bounce back for the 2012 season. The Wolfpack had a good run in this year’s College World Series, making it as far as the Super Regionals and losing to the Florida Gators. Now in the Oakland Athletics’ farm system, Ryan talked to Unashamed Athletes about how his walk with the Lord and his athletic career have come together:

 

UA: When did you start walking with the Lord, and what has your walk been like?

Ryan Mathews: I have a similar story to a lot of people. I grew up in a Christian home and I would consider myself saved from a very young age. I went to church every week, but it was never something I lived out in my life to where I felt comfortable with my walk in the Lord. It was not until college till I hit a peak to where I thought I had everything in the world’s terms that should make me happy. I got to North Carolina State my junior year where I got involved in a Bible study that started talking about God’s love. It really just started a change in my life. I then ended up going on an Athletes in Action summer project for the whole summer where I learned to be a Christian man and what it meant to stand for Christ and the Word of God. It was the end of that summer when I was baptized that I would say I really started walking with the Lord.

UA: What does it mean to you to glorify the Lord both on and off the field?

RM: For me, glorifying the Lord on and off the field is just pursuing Christ through all things, whether it be on the baseball field or in the locker room or when I am in my apartment. In whatever I do to be seeking His glory and His will and to be seeking His word through everything is to be glorify God

UA: How do you go about talking to teammates and opponents about your faith and what it means to you?

RM: It really depends on the situation, because I feel like a lot of people do know what I stand for and believe. I am pretty public about it. A lot of people will come up to me and ask questions and start conversations about what I believe. It is pretty cool, I have had a lot of people just notice the way I do things. They ask why I don’t cuss or why I don’t drink or why I dont have premarital sex. It is just all the ways people ask me about why I don’t do those things, and it is a great opportunity to lead into to what Christ has done for me and what I believe and why I believe it. It’s a good way to start a conversation with them.

UA: What is your favorite verse, and how does it help you live each day?

RM: John 16:33 is my favorite verse that says:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I have really applied this verse to my life and career. Baseball is a game of failure where you constantly fail every day over and over again, even when you are successful. Same as my walk with Christ, I fail a lot being a sinner. It just reminds me every day that Christ has overcome the world. That has been reassuring and a great foundation of confidence for me.

UA: Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” How can you take that verse into your athletic career?

RM: Never be the same; it’s easy to be in an atmosphere around a lot of people who don’t believe the same things that you believe, it can be easy to hide your love for Christ. Being unashamed is about living it out daily and boldly proclaiming Christ. Even though we fail as Christians and Christian athletes day in and day out, it is easy for people to point us out as hypocrites. But still just boldly proclaiming the work of Christ and not our own work I feel sums it all up.

UA: How important is it to have teammates that you can fellowship with throughout the season?

RM: It is unbelievable and awesome to have that experience. I have a few teammates that are also believers. Iron sharpens iron. We encourage each other, grow together, and also we minister together, reaching out to other guys on the team. There is really nothing like it.

UA: What advice would you give to other athletes who are afraid to share their faith with others?

RM: Just do it. I remembered the first time I shared my testimony I was scared to death and I thought that I wasn’t even worthy to tell people about what God has done in my life because I thought that I did not have that much to share. But after doing it, God will really work through you. Just to be willing to do it, if we take that first step, God will take care of the rest.

-Photos courtesy of Ryan Mathews-

                                

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