Ben Malcolmson, a former University of Southern California football player-turned-Seattle Seahawks employee, says that his attempts at evangelizing to his fellow teammates often made him feel sad and discouraged — but he joined the USC football team with the intent to consider it a mission field anyway.
In his latest book, "Walk On," Malcolmson — now director of external relations for the Seattle Seahawks — details his experiences as a former USC player.
What's the background?
Malcolmson writes that he joined the team — then coached by Pete Carroll, who now coaches the Seahawks — much by accident as a journalism major.
According to the book, Malcolmson pursued Carroll to allow him to try out as a walk-on for research he was doing for a news article. Carroll obliged, and Malcolmson ended up winning a coveted spot on the 2006 team, which went on to win the Rose Bowl.
In an interview with Fox News, Malcolmson said that he knew he was getting involved with something big.
"From the moment I made the team, I knew God had a purpose for me there," he said. "I started pressing into that mission from day one."
Despite many of his teammates rebuffing his attempts to spread the good word, Malcolmson soldiered on, knowing this was a gift from God.
Malcolmson said that he started up a team Bible study — but no one showed up. He went on to create a prayer group — but none of his teammates were interested.
Finally, he decided to gift his teammates with copies of their own Bible on Christmas Eve. He was saddened and dismayed to find many of the books — which he'd placed inside his teammates' lockers — destroyed, ripped up, and scattered throughout the locker room.
"When I walked in and saw the Bibles torn up and shredded all over the locker room carpet, I was devastated," he admitted. "It was the culmination of a season full of discouragement, and my hopes for finding my purpose were now shredded all over the floor of the locker room."
Malcolmson, who had fixated on Isaiah 55:11 — which says, "[S]o is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" — thought perhaps he'd wasted his time trying to spread the Gospel to his teammates.
Four years later, Malcolmson said an old friend reached out to him to relay a moving story about one of Malcolmson's fellow teammates.
Malcolmson's old friend said that one of the teammates actually did take one of the Bibles and began reading it. The unidentified teammate reportedly accepted Christ into his heart just three days before passing away.
"With hindsight perspective and years removed from that experience, I could see that God's goodness was on me and that situation all along," Malcolmson concluded. "Even when I couldn't see His hand in the moment, He truly was at work all along."