Faith on the Soccer Field
The globe is watching the World Cup, but U.S. Women's defender Stephanie Cox shows Jesus working behind-the-scenes.
Stephanie Cox is a defender on the 2011 U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer team, where she currently leads a weekly Bible study. Cox also plays for the Boston Breakers, a Women’s Professional Soccer team.
ccci: What is your team Bible study like?
Stephanie: Right now we have a strong core of Christians who are really excited about meeting and challenging each other in our faith.
The thing that has changed over the years is that other girls who are curious about us and about this whole God-thing feel comfortable to come, and to really use our community to search after God.
ccci: What changes have you seen in yourself?
Stephanie: Over the last several years my position on the national team has been a bit shaky. I have contemplated not playing soccer any more.
But along with those debates, I have realized that if I am here, God has placed me here for a reason. I am here for more than soccer: I am here to love these girls on my team and show them Christ through my love.
I have started this year, played well, and then not started again. The girls see my reaction to the situation and I want to show them that my joy is in Christ, not in my time or performance on the field, because that can come and go.
And along with this perspective I realize that there has been a freedom to how I play. Because my performance isn’t centered on the outcome, it is centered on pleasing my King.
ccci: What changes have you seen in the women involved in the study?
Stephanie: It is inspiring to see other Christians desire to bring Christ's love to the other girls on the team.
It is then touching to see the girls on the team respond to that love and ultimately respond to Christ and His call on their lives.
With this Bible study in my life I realize that God has me here for a higher purpose: to show the girls on my team love, no matter the circumstances.
I am so excited for what God is doing on this team.
ccci: How did you connect with Campus Crusade for Christ?
Stephanie: My main connection with Athletes in Action began in Los Angeles with the Sol, the professional women's soccer team.
One afternoon, I ran in to Ray Caldwell, [staff member with AIA] and we got to talking. He knew I was a Christian and he extended an offer to do chapel with our team. I jumped on it, and he has been a great resource ever since.
ccci: What things have you learned from AIA that have been helpful in having a ministry on your team?
Stephanie: At first, I was worried about how our Bible study would go.
But lately I have been realizing that if I stay grounded in Christ and make my time with [God] a priority, then the time that I lead the group will just be an extension of my time with Christ.
It is amazing how God always brings a perfect Bible passage to share with the girls. He is really the One in control of our Bible study; I am just His tool! I am so grateful and honored to be used by Him.
ccci: What do you hope God will do for the future?
Stephanie: My heart’s desire is for every single one of my teammates to respond to the call of God on their lives... to answer that knocking at the door of their heart.
I hope that the strong Christians on this team will be intentional with our conversations with the players who are seeking and searching, to encourage and challenge them in their faith.
And that all of the Christians on this team will continue to show that there is a different way to do things. That even in the midst of competition with each other, that we can truly love and care for one another as Christ has called us to.
Follow the team at the 2011 World Cup
Read more about Stephanie (and many other athletes) on one of AIA’s evangelistic websites, BeyondTheUltimate.org.