In Pursuit Of The MVP - Most Vulnerable People, A Letter Written By Tim TebowDecember 17th, 2022
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It was August 2021. I had just been cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Countless thoughts raced through my mind…
“Should I have continued pursuing my career with the Mets? … Is this the end of my athletic career? ... What if I had made different choices along the way? Would I still be playing right now?”
Around that same time, a massive crisis had begun to unfold in Afghanistan. Our foundation, the Tim Tebow Foundation, and I began to specifically pray for the Lord to show us how we were to help as we watched the dire situation turn more urgent by the day. Through so many phone calls and conversations seeking council from experts in the field and wisdom from leaders of faith, we quickly began coordinating with our ministry partners on what impact we could have. Within what felt like no time at all, we set into motion and began to work through several channels and partners, including one of our partner human trafficking rescue operation teams. Our priority became getting a specialized team into Afghanistan to help rescue and evacuate as many vulnerable people as possible. While we coordinated that operation into Afghanistan, my personal assignment was different. I had been presented with an opportunity to travel alongside a different partner on a trip to a nearby country where thousands of Afghan evacuees had found shelter.
While on the long flight to the other side of the world, my mind began to race once again. Just a couple days earlier, I played in my first football game since 2015. I wore a new number, learned a new position, and worked for months to be the best player I could be…but as I sat on that plane, it all seemed like a blur.
Before I finish that story, I want to tell you another. One that you might have heard before, one that I have told thousands of times in my life…
When I was 15 years old, I met Sherwin, a boy in the jungles of the Philippines who was born with his feet on backwards…
Meeting that young boy that day changed my life. In his local village, Sherwin was believed to be cursed. His own community viewed him as worthless…a throwaway. But in that moment, I knew he wasn’t a throwaway to God, and he had better not be a throwaway to me.
Prior to that day, I spent a good bit of time chasing my dreams and pursuing my goals. What I so desperately wanted in those days was straightforward. I wanted to win championships, I wanted to set records, I wanted to be the best athlete I possibly could be. To tell you the truth, there have been many days even since that pivotal moment where my focus was on my plans. There’s nothing wrong with setting high goals or pursuing big dreams. There’s nothing wrong with winning championships and awards.
But the day I met Sherwin, my perspective began to shift. That day, God opened my eyes to see things—to see people— in a way I had never viewed them before.
While I had my sights set on becoming the Most Valuable Player, God was opening my eyes to show me that the MVPs I should be chasing the most were the Most Vulnerable People. The same people group Jesus intentionally sought out in His time on earth.
In Ephesians 2:10, it says that we are, “…created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” I believe that each one of us has not only been saved from something, but that we have also been saved for something. We have been called to rescue people out of darkness, to serve people in need, and ultimately, to share with every man, woman, and child about the God who created each of them in His own image and who loves them with a perfect and lasting love.
Though we have done nothing to earn such a high calling, God wants us to be co-laborers with Him. It’s not that he needs us to do so. God is certainly capable of accomplishing His perfect will without our help. But He invites us to join Him on His rescue mission for all of humanity. This invitation is why I started the Tim Tebow Foundation twelve years ago.
To be honest, my team and I were just beginning to learn how to operate a foundation in those days. But one thing that we knew for certain from the start was that God had called us to a mission of loving and serving His MVPs. He had called us to arm ourselves with Faith, Hope and Love, and to run into the darkness in search of the Most Vulnerable People.
Today, thanks to the support of close to 50,000 giving family members like yourselves, and official partnerships with 24 ministries around the world, TTF serves some of the most vulnerable people through four areas of focus – Disabilities and Special Needs, Orphan Care + Prevention, Children with Profound Medical Needs, and Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation.
My interaction with Sherwin all those years ago was brief…just a few minutes. But that moment turned into a ministry. Over the past 20 years, there have been others. God has reminded me—because I’ve needed it— so many times of the calling I received that day. He’s used stories, and situations, and most importantly, people to tug on my heart and remind me of His calling repeatedly. It’s why our foundation’s fifth non-negotiable is, “Don’t Forget.”
I can’t forget the moment my dad called me and shared that he had just rescued four young girls from the human trafficking industry, four young girls who were eventually sheltered at the first safe home TTF helped to establish. I can’t forget the moment earlier this year when I saw my wife, Demi, hold abandoned babies in her arms…babies who had been rescued from trash cans and dumps, but who were now safe at the TTF Promise House in South Africa.
I can’t forget the time I walked the red carpet at Night to Shine and the mother of an honored guest pulled me aside and whispered to me that on this night, her daughter—who would never experience many of the things so many girls do— was a Princess. I can’t forget the God-ordained moments throughout the past 20 years that have collectively empowered a mission.
Back to my flight overseas. As I sat in my seat and tried to slow my racing mind, uncertainty clouded my vision. I was uncertain of what I would encounter when my feet touched the ground. Unsure if I was equipped to help all the hurting people in any way. Unsettled thinking of our rescue operation partner who had answered their own call to help and now their lives were on the line. It was ironic that just days after I was cut from the Jaguars, and one dream ended, that I was reminded, yet again, of the bigger mission to which God called me decades ago. It was not new for me to get cut; in fact, it was the fourth time that it happened during my time in the NFL. But as we headed toward the second country of the trip after the team and I were able to minister to thousands of hurting people—children who were now orphaned…women forced to deliver babies in evacuee shelters…people who took their last breath on earth far away from their loved ones…families living in chaos with no other options—God touched my heart and opened my eyes yet again.
As I sat on the plane, I started to think…if I hadn’t been playing football, I would have had a packed schedule – either playing baseball or filling it with events planned far in advance. I would have had so little freedom with my time. BUT, if I was still playing football, I wouldn’t be on this flight. If I hadn’t been cut, I wouldn’t have had the chance to help truly some of the most vulnerable people. God didn’t have me playing with the Jaguars as a set up to get back into the NFL; it was a set up to get back to the MVPs I’m called to serve. It was in that moment that I looked up to my Heavenly Father, with tears in my eyes, and said, “Thank you. Thank you for letting me get cut. These are the MVPs I need to be pursuing. Thank you for showing me grace when I haven’t seen it clearly.” For the first time since I had been cut, I was grateful and could see a greater purpose.
So, I ask you – has there been a moment in your life where God opened your eyes to see something differently, giving you an opportunity—a calling—that you could turn into a mission? Is He calling you to join ours? Following His command to defend the weak, help the poor, and minister to those who are hurting isn’t always the easiest task. I feel inadequate and underequipped nearly every single day. I certainly don’t feel deserving of such a calling, and that’s because I’m not. But you know who is? Jesus. The one who died on a cross on a rescue mission for humanity. On the days where I feel overwhelmed by the job in front of us and by the ever-present magnitude of people in such great need around the world, I try to remind myself that He is more than able and that the power that raised Christ from the dead is the same one at work within us this very moment. And how I feel from day to day doesn’t change what He has called us to do every day.
Our mission is a big one. But He is Immanuel, God with us. Let’s keep going…together.
If your heart aches for the hurting, make a tax deductible donation before December 31st to help fight for some of the Most Vulnerable People around the world.