Story from the Orlando Sentinel
Preacher Tim Tebow took the microphone at 7:23 p.m. Wednesday and looked into Bradford County High football stadium’s full bleachers. He wore a golf shirt and blue jeans this night, and for the next 20 minutes, without throwing a pass or scoring a touchdown, he owned his audience’s attention.
Better than 2,000 people, some showing a couple of hours early, had filled those seats to hear Tebow take center stage about his other top passion: Jesus Christ. There were 7-year-olds and 70-year-olds, athletes and couch potatoes, devoted Christians and a handful who had no clue what was coming.
They fanned themselves with sheets of paper and squinted into the setting sun and listened for 20 minutes, hearing their role model explain how he feels divine providence made possible his earthly accomplishments. They also heard a question, one that sounded like it should come from the next Tony Robbins, not [maybe] the next Steve Young.
What are you doing with your dash?
The dash is the one Tebow said will appear on his tombstone after he dies, the one separating the numerals 1987 from the year he dies. And that dash?
“That dash,” he told his audience, “represents everything I did with my life.”
So many understand what Tebow has done so far with his dash — Heisman Trophy winner, documentary subject, celebrity in the Philippines (from the mission trips he has taken there). And as he discovered on his most recent mission trip, many more folks know about him than he first thought.
A few weeks back, Tebow and his family visited a business conference in Croatia as part of their missionary work. After the group was recognized by a dinner speaker one night, another patron in the restaurant walked up. Turns out his two sons, who live in France, knew Tebow’s name, and dad wanted to introduce himself.
“They didn’t speak a whole lot of English,” Tebow said. “They probably couldn’t tell you five people in the NFL. But they knew who I was.”
Wednesday’s event, a youth rally organized by First Baptist Church of Starke student pastor and family friend Joe Fennell, continued a spring of public speaking and touring for Tebow. Besides the Europe trip, he spent a week in the Philippines, preached at several North Florida prisons, and visited children at a Jacksonville hospital.
Joined by Gators receiver and aspiring minister Louis Murphy, Tebow answered questions for 15 minutes from the rally’s host. After a short band concert, he returned to the stage and gave the sort of talk most parents would love their children to hear. He emphasized hard work and faith, with a combination of the two leading to success.
“He’s just a tremendous model for all of our kids,” Fennell said.
The sermon carried a serious tone, with the crowd never mustering even a giggle. Tebow covered heavy topics — heaven and hell, sin and repentance — and he called a person’s decision about faith the most important he or she will ever make.