Page 1

where sports and faith connect

Marcos Senna 10 10


Fabio Maciel Fábio


José Luís Vidigal Jacob Mulenga Portugal


Alexander Samedov

Jun Marques Davidson

12 14

Click here to read the magazine in: ARABIC Click here to read the magazine in:

Click here to read the magazine in: VIETNAMESE


Click here to read the magazine in: URDU

Click here to read the magazine in: BENGALI

Click here to read the MAGAZINE IN: TAMIL

Click here to read the magazine in: BURMESE

Click here to read the MAGAZINE IN: TAGALOG

Click here to read the magazine in: dutch

Click here to read the magazine in: SPANISH



Click here to read the magazine in: RUSSIAN


Click here to read the MAGAZINE IN: PORTUGUESE




Click here to read the MAGAZINE IN: PORTUGUESE



Click here to read the magazine in: POLISH


Click here to read the magazine in: NEPALESE


Click here to read the magazine in: MANDARIN

CLICK HERE TO READ THE MAGAZINE IN: JAPANESE Click here to read the magazine in: Korean

Click here to read the magazine in: MALAGASY






Marcos Senna:

Spain’s Marcos Senna realizes that Christ, not life’s circumstances, provides joy and peace

Fábio Maciel:


AFP/Getty Images

Federico Lopez Claro/STR/Getty Images

Brazilian goalkeeper Fábio went through some trials, but the hardships led him to Christ


Jun Marques Davidson:

Japan’s Jun Marques Davidson began selfishly chasing fame, but he found out that his purpose in life was far greater

Jacob Mulenga:

Popperfoto/Getty Images

Despite not playing soccer until he was in high school, Jacob Mulenga’s fast rise has caused him to depend on God


Alexander Samedov:

Issouf Sanogo/Getty Images

Russia’s Alexander Samedov struggled through questions about his life and his career, until he found something that gave him the answers he had been searching for all along

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


SCAN HERE to watch a video of Fรกbio


FotoArena/Getty Images

Fábio Maciel Brazilian goalkeeper Fábio went through some trials, but the hardships led him to Christ

LatinContent/STR / Getty Images


ans call Fábio “the blue wall”, a wall that no ball can pass, and consider him a hero. But for Brazilian goalkeeper Fábio Deivson Lopes Maciel, who has won many titles and been on Brazil’s national team at every level, the road to the titles is what’s most important. In 2007, his career was interrupted when he ruptured the ligaments in his left knee during a key game for his club, Cruzeiro. Some thought he would never return. “It was a difficult time but important for me to revise my way of living and it was essential so God could work in my life in a way that I had never allowed him,” he says. “God is the basis of my life.” Adding to his troubles was the fact that people doubted that he was even injured because his right knee hit the goal post, but it was his left knee that was injured. “People doubted my character, said I was lying, that I was actually taken off the team,” he says. “The pain brought me closer to God.

Men and women are serving sports teams as sports mentors and counselors for life and faith. It was the pain of an injury, the loss of a title, to see the world doubting my character which led to the biggest and best decision of my life: to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I gave my whole life to him.” Despite doctors telling Fábio he would return in six months, he was back on the field in half that time. The following season, Cruzeiro made the finals once again, and this time his team won. “Many would say I was not going to play soccer and not return to Cruzeiro,” Fábio says. “But God restored me by giving me the opportunity to walk with Him and He placed me where I am today. God is amazing. Exactly one year after the hard times I went through, He restored me. The pain I went through turned into a great victory. I played in 200 games for Cruzeiro, I was a champion and considered the best goalkeeper of a major tournament.” Another title followed in 2013 and Fábio was named best goalkeeper of the Brazilian Championship. The experiences led him to the understanding that God is real and directs all things. “Everything that happened in my life was planned by God,” he says. “He determined everything…My basis is God in my life. He waited to put me in places and give me things I never imagined. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the life and blessed family I have today…He is a true God who makes it happen.” 3

SCAN HERE to watch a video of Jacob Mulenga


Francisco Leong/AFP//Getty Images

Jacob Mulenga Despite not playing soccer until he was in high school, Jacob Mulenga’s fast rise has caused him to depend on God

VI Images via Getty Images


occer hasn’t always been at the top of Zambian national soccer team player Jacob Mulenga’s favorite sports list. When he was young, he was committed to a sport similar to motor racing. His weekdays were spent going to school, but his weekends were filled with the motor racing style sport. Soccer didn’t become a part of his life until later in his schooling. Even then, though, he said he “mainly just watched.” Soccer was for fun. “I did not play for any youth teams or academies – just playing for fun at school,” he recalls. “I learned a lot basically from watching. I learned a lot from watching on television.” But after finishing school, he decided to get serious about soccer. “I thought, ‘OK, now before you decide what you want to do with your life, play soccer for a while and see what happens” (Former Zambian player and coach) Kalusha (Bwalya) saw me play and said ‘You know you could be good at it.’ For me it was still a dream. I would joke about it with my friends, ‘One day I will play professional soccer.’” Despite not playing soccer until late in his career, his rise to elite level was fast. He made Zambia’s national team when he was 20, and he scored in his first game – a 1-0 victory against Togo in a World Cup qualifier. From there he went to the next two World Cup qualifying matches in Senegal and Mali and became a fixture on the national team. But his rapid success didn’t turn into confidence. “It was scary. I was nervous. It was a whole new world to me,” he says. “I had never been in front of the public that much before. I had no idea what playing for the national team involved. You hear about it; you read about it. Now you put yourself in a position where you are ready to be criticized. Everything you do – good or bad – is going to be criticized and you are going to have someone say something about it.”

He gradually became comfortable, though, and in 2010 he scored two goals in two games at the Africa Cup. The following two Africa Cups, in 2012 and 2013, though, resulted in disappointment. He didn’t play in either one, including in 2012 when Zambia won the title. “For me it was really hard, you knew in 2010 you played a big role in the Africa Cup and now you could not be part of it,” he says. “That was a big blow for me… you are happy but every time someone talks about it, it reminds you of not being part of it.” “I used to ask God so many times, ‘Why is this happening to me when I come to you, pray to you…and everyone else is okay? What did I do to deserve this? ... For me it is always why? Why this? Why that? Stop with the why. First of all I learned…that you are not in control. No matter how much you try, you are not in control of things that happen...if I did not have Jesus...I would be so lost.” “I know that I am extremely blessed. I am someone who can do anything in soccer. I know my strength does not come from me. It comes from above….God won’t take you to the next level if you don’t know how to handle the pressure…the higher you go the worse (the pressure) becomes.”

Worldwide sportspeople are helping and encouraging each other in a holistic way, helping to understand that their self-worth is based on who they are not what they do. “Everything that is built without God is not worth building. I am not going to sit here and lie and say, ‘I live a perfect, God-fearing life.’ I have problems sometimes. My faith is tested…You have so many challenges. You have so many things that come to you. You want someone to talk to. I think when you bring someone to a faith in Christ, you really have to help them understand, ‘Listen, God is going to be the center of your life.’…It is not saying you aren’t going to have challenges. You are going to have challenges as a Christian and you are going to have trouble…But you know in all that, you are going to be victorious.” 5

Russia’s Alexander Samedov struggled through questions about his life and his career, until he found something that gave him the answers he had been searching for all along

W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

Francois Nel/ S P O RGetty T S S P EImages CTRUM

00 7

rowing up in a family split in their religious beliefs, Alexander Samedov decided he would live his life in his own way and on his own terms. Until trouble came and he was left searching for answers. Samedov, who has represented Russia internationally on the U-21 and senior soccer national teams and has also played on several top Russian club teams, started having trouble in his soccer career and in his life. That’s when the questions started, first in his mind and then verbally.

We serve the local church.

Epsilon/Getty Images / Getty Images

SCAN HERE to watch a video of Alexander Samedov

“Going back to the very beginning I lived my life in my own way. But a time came when I began to have problems in my career, in my life. I had already reached the age to be thinking about those things. And then I met my current wife, Yulia. She was a believer; she went to church. Seeing my problems, she simply said to me, ‘Sasha, such and such...’ I came to church once, twice, and I understood. My life began to change.” Though Samedov admitted that “reading wasn’t the most important thing” for him growing up because he went to sports school and he “paid more attention to sports” than academics, he has loved reading the Bible since becoming committed to Christ. But reading the Bible has been different. It’s a welcome change from the arduous reading of lifeless words from the pages of a school textbook or any book for that matter. “I don’t look at reading the Bible like reading other books,

When athletes face injury sportspeople are helping and encouraging each other in a holistic way, helping to understand that their self worth is based on who they are not what they do. He looks to God, who speaks to him and guides him as Samedov reads the Bible. God has used Samedov’s wife to show him the right path. “It worked out that way,” he says. Through her, I made it.”

EuroFootball/Getty Images

because the Bible is something spiritual; it’s about faith,” he says. “The Bible teaches us. It provides direction for our lives.” Part of that direction has guided him in his career. Samedov began with Spartak Moscow when he was 16 years old. Five years later he moved to FC Lokomotiv Moscow for four years before joining FC Moscow for two seasons. After succeeding there, he made a jump to a bigger club, Dynamo Moscow, for three seasons while also making his first senior national team appearance in 2011 in a victory against Slovakia during a Euro 2012 qualifying match. That success landed him back at FC Lokomotiv the following season when he began excelling even more and became a regular starter and a fan favorite. The questions he had about life had been answered, and the way he handled success and failure had now changed.


Spain’s Marcos Senna realizes that Christ, not life’s circumstances, provides joy and peace ith four knee injuries in his career, it would be understandable if Marcos Senna was burned out, discouraged or disappointed with soccer. But it’s quite the opposite for the Spanish soccer star. “I have had four knee injuries, but with God’s help, I think I have responded well and even experienced joy in the midst of them,” he shares. “I don’t know of another player with similar injuries who has been able to continue playing at the same level as I have. I give thanks, honor, and glory to God for the strength He has given me.” “I am at peace. I know God has a purpose in our lives. If I am injured, it is for a reason that I am injured and I understand that I will get better in time. I understand that God…will keep looking after me. And for that reason I am very calm.” Senna, who was born into poverty in Brazil and began playing soccer in the streets at age 6, became a Spanish citizen after Luis Aragonés, Senna’s Villarreal CF coach, asked him to play for the Spanish national team. “I was not going to give up my nationality by birth – Brazilian,” says Senna. “At that time, I thought it was the best move and a privilege to have dual nationality and the opportunity to play for Spain, one of the best 10

teams in the world. The truth is that it has changed my life. It has been extraordinary.” Senna, who played in two World Cups, helped Spain win the 2008 Euro Cup, beating Germany 1-0 for its first Euro title since 1964. Several publications named Senna player of the tournament after he helped Spain become the first team to go unbeaten in the Euro Cup since Germany in 1996. From November 2006 until June 2009, he also helped Spain win or tie 35 consecutive matches, tying the record held by Brazil, and helped Spain win a record 15 straight games during that time while also helping Spain to number 1 in the World Rankings for the first time in the nation’s history. The streak ended in the Confederations Cup semifinal with a 2-0 upset loss to the United States. “Winning the European Championship in 2008 was a highlight of my career and a wonderful celebration,” he says. “We eventually won on penalties. I knew that I would be one of the penalty-takers. We practiced penalties the day before, but on game-day we had played 90 minutes plus 30 minutes in extra time. I was exhausted and had cramps everywhere. Yet, when the time came, I was calm and felt God’s Spirit come on me, giving me peace and clarity. With His help, I was able to shoot confidently, score, and help Spain to victory. I knew God was in charge and had a plan for me to honor Him with this accomplishment. “On the day of the final, I was completely focused on the match. It was a great day, especially with all of Spain sharing in the celebration. When we won, it was a time of great joy for all the players. Our lives will never be the same because of being part of winning the Championship. More importantly, my life has never been the same because of my relationship with Jesus.” That relationship with Jesus began during a short stint with São Caetano in Brazil and it has made all the difference in his life. “They invited me to a meeting and I went,” Senna recalls. “At that time in my life I did not know much about the Bible. I had been to church with my mother, but as I grew up I stopped going for some reason. I was not baptized or anything, but I knew some things from my mother and grandmother…I was 25 years old – nearly 26 and they invited me to the meeting. I liked it and I kept 11

Joe Klamar / Getty Images Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

on going. Then eight months after I became a believer in Christ, Villarreal signed me and I joined a church in Villarreal where I was baptized.” Senna said that fame, money and other material things aren’t enough to satisfy anyone. “If you are worried about anything, I do not think that money is the answer,” Senna says. “But God’s Spirit is above all things. God can give you happiness, peace and 12

joy. Just talking about it makes me smile. This has made me very happy and changed my life in every way. It is the best decision that anyone can make in their lives.” “Now I am truly at peace because I am certain God has a purpose for my life. If I am injured, it is for a reason. God is looking after me, and because of that, I am able to be calm and confident, and experience great joy.”


to watch a video of Marcos Senna

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images


WHEN SOCCER BECOMES AN AVENUE Japan’s Jun Marques Davidson began selfishly chasing fame, but he found out that his purpose in life was far greater

Derek Leung/Getty Images


o Japanese footballer Jun Marques Davidson, religion always seemed like far too complicated of a thing. The rules. The regulations. The structure. Raised in Tokyo, Japan—a country where only 1 percent of its citizens are considered to be practicing Christians—Davidson was like much of the population. He had little interest in Christianity, even though his mother was a Christian. Instead, he had his sights set on one thing: soccer. There were signs that he could be something special early in life, and at 15 years old he left Japan to play soccer at an international school in England. Success, money, and fame became his primary drive in life. Attaining superstar status in the soccer sphere became his goal.

Serving through sports in every country every city. But it was in England, while he was alone in a foreign country, barely able to communicate, hardly knowing anyone, that he realized there may be more to life than soccer. “It was tough to be alone in a foreign country,” Davidson said. “But it was there that I began to understand my need for God. I started attending church on my own and learned more about what it meant to be a Christian. I committed my life to Him and found a peace and confidence I had not felt before. My purpose for going to England had been for soccer, but His purpose was to shape me for my future.” After England, Davidson and his family moved to California to be together while he played soccer in high school. He was surrounded by other strong Christians on the team, as if God was bringing him to maturation after the revival he had in England. “Again God was shaping me by providing Christian fellowship and encouragement,” Davidson says.

Following high school, Davidson moved back to Japan to play professional soccer. His homecoming was like a clash of two worlds. When he left Japan four years prior, his heart and mind were in a completely different state. He was selfishly driven, determined to make a splash on the soccer scene to attain both money and fame. When he returned four years later, he was becoming more of a selfless person, and he wanted to use soccer as an avenue to impact others for the Gospel in a country that had hardly heard of Jesus Christ. “I think God created me as a soccer player to do something greater, to serve God,” Davidson told Risen Magazine. “There are not many Christians in Japan, so it is very hard to follow and study and have the solid faith in Christ. “I believe God took me to England and to California to put me in a situation and environment where I saw a lot of Christians and people with great faith. And so that helped me inside as a person to grow and learn more about God.” His return to Japan made him realize how much he had changed, how much work God had done in him, and how much God wanted to do something through him to impact others. Etsuo Hara/Getty Images


to watch a video of Juan Marques Davidson

“Since giving my life to God, my perspective had changed,” Davidson says. “I began to think about how I could use my role to share the gospel. God was showing me that my career was less about me and all about Him.” Since moving back to Japan, the defensive-minded midfielder’s performance has been steady. He spent his first three seasons in the second division of Japan’s J. League and helped his team earn a promotion to Japan’s first division in 2004. His next six seasons were spent in J. League Division I and followed by two seasons in lower divisions including a stint with the Carolina RailHawks in the States. He spent all of 2012 and 2013 playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer. He was awarded the Whitecaps FC’s “Jock MacDonald Unsung Hero Award” in 2012 for his consistent presence on the pitch. “Serving God through sport is important to me,” Davidson says. “I try to share the Gospel, serve others, and be an example. It’s not always easy when the competition gets tough, but even then I seek forgiveness and pray God will use me. My career is in His hands and I seek to follow Him wherever that may lead me, even if and when it doesn’t involve soccer—for my purpose is to serve Him.”

The Sports Movement helps athletes to Live, Represent and Share their stories of faith in the World of Sport. In the offseason, Davidson does missionary work through a sports ministry group called Ambassadors in Sport, and at 31 years old, his heart and mind are in a much different place than they were 15 years ago. His life is no longer his own; it belongs to God. Soccer is no longer his own; it also belongs to God. And his surrender to a much better Author of his story has led to both purpose and peace. Joseph of the Old Testament was a normal kid who God shaped into a great man,” Davidson says. “Even when his brothers sold him into slavery and his future looked grave, Joseph sought to live for his God. Then, when he was blessed with great power and influence, he used his role to help others and do God’s work.”


SS GoMag English USA III  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you