Michigan State University's football program has lived and died by the arm of its senior quarterback, Kirk Cousins. At a campus event Thursday, however, Cousins said his faith in Jesus Christ is even more important to him than the game.
“I've built my life on Jesus, and it's been the best decision I've ever made,” Cousins said while addressing the crowd that filled most of the auditorium on MSU's campus, according to statenews.com.
The event was organized by Campus Crusade for Christ, and was attended by an estimated 2,500 students and members of the surrounding community.
Cousins opened his speech, according to isportsweb.com, by saying he decided to share his testimony at the event because he gets excited – like he does at the end of a great movie or football game – about opportunities to share his faith with others.
Although the star quarterback may have been the event's main draw in the eyes of many, he made sure that Jesus was the focus.
“I believe the reason that that one solitary life has affected mankind to such a degree and that we’re talking about him 2,000 years after the fact is because that one solitary life rose from the dead,” Cousins said as he wrapped up his speech.
“And through his death on a cross, he has offered me eternal life, which I have accepted and therefore he is living inside of me tonight and for the rest of eternity. And I believe this to be true with every fiber of my being and I’m asking you to consider tonight for yourself – do you agree with me?”
His final question was particularly fitting. Campus Crusade for Christ intern Lauren Chirillo told The Christian Post on Friday the organization promoted the event for two weeks, at first by passing out 10,000 fliers which asked, “Do you agree with Kirk?”
Chirillo said this simple slogan – along with an aggressive advertising campaign which also involved taking out newspaper advertisements, passing out trading cards with Cousins' photo and testimony on them and printing 1,200 shirts advertising the event – caused a big buzz on campus. In the second week of advertising they changed the advertising slogan to “I agree with Kirk.”
Chirillo said many people attended the event because they wanted to see Cousins, a college football celebrity, but others came to hear his message.
"I do think sports figures are respected in our culture just for being athletes," she said. "When you have an athlete who is very passionate about Jesus and about their faith and about the Gospel, I think it automatically draws a crowd."
According to Beyond The Ultimate, a website designed to help athletes realize their need for God, Cousins was raised in a Chicago suburb as the son of a minister before his family moved to Holland, Mich. He placed his faith in Jesus at the age of seven.
During a question and answer session following his speech, Cousins was asked: At what point this football season have you needed Christ the most?
“Everyday. Every moment. Every hour,” he responded, adding he needed Jesus in both the good times and the bad.
On Oct. 22, for example, the Spartans beat the University of Wisconsin Badgers on a last-second Hail Mary pass by Cousins, which connected down field with receiver Keith Nichol, who was able to force the ball across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown.
“I need Christ to remind me of who I am in light of him, and to keep me humble before him, and to understand that I am a sinner, and I'm in need of a savior and apart from him I can do nothing,” Cousins said about the victory. “I need to recognize that and not get caught up in pride.”
Conversely, he also addressed how Christ helped him through the team's offensive struggles during last weekend's game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, when Michigan State fell by a score of 24-3.
“I need to remind myself then that my value and my worth is not tied up in who I am on the football field. My value and worth is tied up in who I am in Jesus Christ and he's not changing. So I think that at all times I need Christ, at all times I rely on him and it's the highs and it's the lows where he has to be the central figure of my life.”
The next on-the-field test for Cousins and the Spartans (6-2, 3-1) is on Saturday, Nov. 5, when they take on the Golden Gophers (2-6, 1-3) of Minnesota at Spartan Stadium.