This is the 9th post in a series about Christian Baseball players who are outspoken about their faith, and are using their position of fame and spotlight to tell others about God, and the difference He has made in their life.
Jeff Francoeur has a story to tell. The outfielder for the Kansas City Royals has been a highly touted player, since being drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft by the Atlanta Braves. He was quickly making his way through the minor leagues when his career nearly came to a sudden and painful end. On July 7, 2004, Francoeur was struck in the face by a pitch. Bones were broken, metal plates were surgically inserted, and vision was blurred. There was question as to whether he would see clearly with his right eye again.
A devastating injury like this could bring hopelessness to those who don’t have a coping strategy. But Francoeur leaned on his faith in God to help him deal with the injury. It was a faith that he began taking seriously as a sophomore in high school when he attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in South Carolina. There, his small group leader was NFL tight end Ben Watson. Francoeur loved sports, he lived and breathed them, and here he saw a professional athlete whose life was in sports, but his identity was not found in sport – it was found in a relationship with Jesus. Francoeur chose to begin a relationship with Jesus at that camp, and with that perspective in place, he dealt with this injury knowing that ultimately, God is in control and had a plan to use him and this part of his story to share about God’s love and goodness. You can read an article about Francoeur from the Dayton Times here.
Amazingly, 1 year after the injury, he was called up to the major leagues and he has been there ever since. He is known as a decent hitter with some power and a laser arm. In fact his 86 outfield assists in the 5+ years that he has been in the majors are almost 20 more than then next closest over the same time frame.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes is an important organization to Francoeur. They allowed him to meet Jesus and led him to choose a life that honors God. Now he frequently shares his story for others to hear at FCA camps and banquets. If you would like more information about this great organization and all that they are doing, check out their website here.
Sharing the story of what God is doing in your life is a great way to draw others to know Him, it will also help you build your faith because when you intentionally look at your story, you see how God is working – maybe in ways you haven’t realized before. And being aware of God at work will spark you to keep telling others about Him. Francoeur finished a recent talk at an FCA banquet with a quote from legendary NCAA basketball coach John Wooden. It is challenging and a good question to keep on our radar. Wooden said “If I am ever arrested for being a Christian, I hope that there is enough evidence to convict me.” I pray that God will help me be more aware of all He is doing, so when I see it, I will not be able to stay silent, but that I will leave enough evidence to be guilty of being an outspoken Christian.