When my Houses of Worship Column got bumped from last Friday to this Friday, I knew it was because someone had pitched a good Manute Bol tribute. Then I read Jon Shields’ column on the gentle giant and realized that “good” wasn’t a good enough descriptor:
As any churchgoer who tuned in to watch the recent NBA finals contest between the Lakers and Celtics already knows, the term redemption is probably now heard more often in NBA sports broadcasts than in homilies. A Google search under “redemption” and “NBA” generates approximately 2 million hits—more hits than “redemption” and “Christianity.” The term can also be found in more than 2,600 stories on ESPN.com.
Manute Bol, who died last week at the age of 47, is one player who never achieved redemption in the eyes of sports journalists. His life embodied an older, Christian conception of redemption that has been badly obscured by its current usage.
Bol, a Christian Sudanese immigrant, believed his life was a gift from God to be used in the service of others. As he put it to Sports Illustrated in 2004: “God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back.”
Really, a wonderful column. You can read the rest here. And I’d say look here Friday for my column, but chances are I’ll make it easier on everyone and just blog about the column on Christian missions.