- (Photo: Reuters/Danny Moloshok)
The Filipino Roman Catholic Church has asked native boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao to be the country's "Bible Ambassador," hoping to set a trend among locals like NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has done with his faith in the U.S.
"We asked him to partner with us in promoting the reading of the Bible among Catholics," Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) bible ministry, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"Tim Tebow became very popular by promoting the word of God," David said. "Some have referred to Manny Pacquiao as the Tim Tebow of the Philippines."
Pacquiao, a devout Catholic, was recently elected to the country's lower house of parliament, has yet to respond to the offer.
The boxer, known to wear a rosary around his neck before and after fights, credits God as the power behind his success.
In a mid-January interview with television station ABS-CBN, Pacquiao described his rekindled faith after an "encounter with God" in a dream. That experience from years ago led the Filipino native to give up womanizing and gambling.
Pacquiao shared that he wandered through a forest in his dream, when he came upon a bright light – God – and heard a voice: "Son, why are you going away from me?"
"I woke up crying. I remember I was crying in my dream and when I touched my pillow, it was wet," he shared. "If I had died last year or in the last two years, I'm sure I would have gone straight to hell. My faith in Him was there, 100 percent, but behind it, after prayers, I would still do evil things."
Pacquiao's dream revelation has turned his life around. According to ABS-CBN, the boxer now spends more time with his family when not training and has immersed himself in Bible study.
Garnering a 54-3 fight record with two drawn bouts, the 32-year-old fighter has been deemed one of history's boxing greats. Pacquiao currently holds eight world titles in as many weight categories – a boxing history first.
Tim Tebow, also a native of the Philippines, was born in Manila 24 years ago. Raised by Baptist missionary parents, Tebow's strong faith is rooted in his Christian upbringing.
The quarterback's public assertion of his love for Christ on the football field has been a cause for controversy – inciting both heavy praise and criticism. Regardless, Tebow has defended his faith saying:
"If you're married and you're a [husband] is it good enough to only say you love her on the day you get married or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and have an opportunity? And that's how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the most important thing in my life so anytime I get an opportunity to tell Him that I love Him or give Him an opportunity to shout Him out on national TV, I'm gonna take that opportunity.
"So I look at that as a relationship that I have with Him that I want to give Him honor and glory anytime I have the opportunity and then right after I give Him honor and glory, then I want to try and give my teammates honor and glory and that's how it works because Christ comes first in my life. Then my family, and then my teammates."