Tim Tebow is used to being on magazine covers. Having already won two national championships, a Heisman trophy and an assortment of other accolades, the University of Florida quarterback has become accustomed to being in the limelight. Yet his appearance on this week's Sports Illustrated cover may be his favorite to date, and that's because it has little to do with football and more to do with his biggest passion: sharing the gospel.
Dubbing Tebow a "Man of Many Missions," the longstanding sports magazine chose to highlight the son of Philippine missionaries for his multifaceted ministry work off the field. Only days after winning another NCAA championship in January, Tebow announced he was returning for his senior year of college—but not for obvious reasons. Despite being all but assured a top spot in April's NFL draft, the 21-year-old All-American has publically said one of the biggest draws was the opportunity to use his high-profile position for the cause of Christ.
"[It's] the opportunity to have an impact with my platform and have a chance to minister around the country to boys and girls who look up to football players,” Tebow said at a recent Southeastern Conference (SEC) media day. "In the national championship game, the verses I wore underneath my eyes, within the next two days, 94 million people had googled that. When I heard that [I was] like ‘wow.’ The impact that you have is incredible. And it’s truly a blessing. And I wanted to take advantage of that one more year."
Born in the Philippines, Tebow regularly makes headlines for returning there during his off-season months and helping his father's ministry, the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, which has reportedly shared the gospel with more than 15 million people, helped start more than 10,000 churches and opened a local orphanage. On the home front, Tebow spends countless hours preaching in prisons, which he says is "one of my favorite things to do. You’re talking to guys who have no hope, no support, who have been totally written off by the world.”
Tebow's actions may be gaining headlines, but his authenticity in spreading the good news of Christ isn't going unnoticed either. In the cover story, Sports Illustrated writer Austin Murphy even makes this statement: “Having covered Tim for three years, I would say he's the most effective ambassador-warrior for his faith I've come across in 25 years at SI. At a time when Americans are leaving organized religion in large numbers, according to a 2008 Pew Research poll, Tebow is leading his own personal counterinsurgency." [sportsillustrated.com, 7/27/009; gatorsports.com, 7/22/09; christianpost.com, 7/26/09]