(Photo: I am Second via The Christian Post)
His rough life made him believe that there was nothing anyone could teach him. But a Texas college football star learned after his injury how faithful God is and how much he needed Him.
Baron Batch, now a senior at Texas Tech, grew up with people telling him that being a good athlete is life itself.
“What happens when it’s over? What happens when football is over? What happens when you can’t play sports anymore? If that’s your life, what happens then?” asked Batch, running back for the Texas Tech Red Raider football team, in an “I am Second” video posted last week.
In 2006, he suffered an ankle injury that led to seven surgeries and missing out on the entire 2007 season. During that time, he contemplated quitting football and lost his identity – a college athlete. Moreover, none of the people he thought were his friends visited him in the hospital. Instead, two teammates he did not have a close relationship with visited and said God had a plan for him. Eventually, he started attending church and Bible studies and his ankle healed.
But life actually became more difficult after he accepted Christ and his ankle healed, he said.
From a young age, Batch had led a hard life. His mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was ten years old and passed away when he was in ninth grade. He, his three brothers and one sister basically raised themselves, which shaped his attitude that “no one can tell me anything because I’ve done it on my own.”
But God used the 2006 injury to break him down and remove the distraction of football.
“If you are a thousand steps away from God, which I was, God will take 999 steps just so you will take that one,” said Batch. “I said, ‘God, I know that I’m a screw up. You know that I’m a screw up. I understand that you gave me these talents and these abilities and I spit on them. I spit all over them. I disrespected the things you gave me and tried to claim them for my own self to bring glory for me,’” he said in the video meant to inspire people to live for God and for others.
When he returned to the football field he had a new attitude and new way of celebrating touchdowns. Batch said he no longer pounds his chest or points to his jersey number or name when he reaches the end zone. Instead, he points up.
“To me, Jesus dying on the cross is the ultimate act of love and the ultimate act of obedience,” he said. “All I can do every time I get to the end zone is point up, point up and say ‘Thank you God. Thank you God because you are so, so, so, so, so faithful. You were faithful when I wasn’t. You were faithful when I laughed at you. You were faithful when I said I didn’t want to have a part in you. But yet somehow you turned all of that into a powerful testimony.”
On Saturday, Batch’s Texas Tech Red Raider played against the Oklahoma Sooners. Landry Jones, quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, also shared his story on “I am Second.”
Similar to Batch, Jones placed his identity in being a star athlete. But when he got to college, he realized that he would not be the football star that he was in high school.
“Everything that I put my faith, hopes and dreams into was stripped from me,” said Jones, who grew up in a Christian family but viewed Bible stories as “fairy tales.”
“I started to believe in lies that Satan has spoken into me in high school, that without football, without sports I was worthless. Everyone hated me. Why am I even here on this earth if I can’t play football?”
He turned to alcohol and girls as he spiraled into depression during his first year of college. Jones, who was previously always popular because of his athletic abilities, had a bad attitude during college football practices so no one wanted to hang out with him, he recalled.
“I was just drowning. It was like Satan just pushing me deeper and deeper and deeper under the water,” he said. “I just wanted to crawl into a hole and just be left alone all by myself. I didn’t know if I wanted to keep living. How can I go through another miserable year like that? I just wanted to die.”
It was at this point that God intervened and freed him from depression and loneliness.
“I just remember feeling so much love just pouring into me and saying that He didn’t care where I was, what I’ve done, and all He wanted was me,” Jones recalled. “Instead of Landry Jones the athlete I was Landry Jones the son of God. And that is what my identity is now.”
Jones, whose team celebrated a 45-7 win on Saturday, said in the video that he has never felt happier in his entire life after coming to know Christ.
“It is the eternal joy that God speaks into you,” he said. “At the end of times it isn’t really going to matter if I’m a Hall of Fame quarterback or a great college quarterback or anything like that. It is going to be a matter of what I did on this earth and how I used my gifts for God.”
Launched in December 2008, the “I am Second” website includes videos of celebrities and everyday people talking about their struggles and how they have come to make Jesus Christ the top priority in their life and themselves second. Celebrities that have participated in the campaign include Texas Ranger center fielder Josh Hamilton, former American Idol contestant Jason Castro, heavy metal music artist Brian “Head” Welch, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The website has received more than 3 million visits from 213 countries.