Testimony of Hockey Player Gary Steffes: Bringing Christ to the Ice (2)
Four years ago, hockey was life to Gary Steffes. His self-worth was based on his performance on the ice and how others within the hockey world viewed him as a college player at Miami University of Ohio.
It was a miserable experience.
"My emotions would change on a daily basis," Steffes says. "I would constantly be fighting for significance every time I touched the ice. If my career wasn't going as planned, I would turn to everything around me to try to fill that void. I was always empty."
During his sophomore year, Steffes received the jarring wake-up call he so desperately needed, getting scratched from the lineup even though he was healthy. Instantly, his identity was gone.
"I felt like an utter zero," Steffes admits. "Before that, I didn't think I needed God. But, for the first time in my life, I fell on my knees and wholeheartedly asked Him for help. That started my journey to discovering who in the world I was and what I was meant to be."
As Steffes dove headlong into God's Word, he began to discover his true identity in Christ. He learned about God's love for Him in powerful passages such as Psalm 139:13-16 and be-gan to understand the importance of being authentic through Christ's example in places like Matthew 22:16.
Most importantly, Steffes began to believe that God had a purpose for his life, a purpose that required getting real.
"There should be no shame in who God made you to be," he says. "We should have confi-dence in that and not be swayed by men to be something we weren't created to be. People will respect us even if they don't agree with us when we are real and authentic."
That's why, when Steffes was asked to share his testimony in the FCA Hockey New Testament, it was a no-brainer to discuss the topic of authenticity. Without it, he knows that he would never have a chance to effectively evangelize the hockey world.
"I highly value authenticity in my life," he says. "I want to be the man that God created me to be. God doesn't make mistakes with our personality or with the gifts and the abilities He gave us. I know that I can impact this world exactly the way I am. I've got to get to know who God made me to be by getting to know Him."
Part of impacting the world for Christ has included full-time work for FCA Hockey during the offseason and part-time work during the season. Steffes kicked off the 2012-13 Central Hockey League campaign as a third-year player with the Tulsa Oilers. He leads a hockey Huddle with area high school players and has worked with the team owner to institute team chapel services.
Last summer, he worked at eight summer camps and traveled to Turkey on an FCA Hockey mission trip. Steffes also mentors college athletes and coaches various FCA youth teams.
"He's a tremendous blessing to FCA Hockey," Randazzo says. "Gary is a huge component of who we are and how we've been able to grow so quickly. He's been doing so many different pieces of the ministry. He's totally sold out for Jesus and impacting the hockey world at all lev-els."
Steffes' passion for discipleship opens many doors to sharing his testimony with fellow play-ers and younger athletes alike. It's a testimony that shows God's love in action and under-scores the importance of being authentic in today's world.
"God wants to bless people through us," Steffes says. "When we don't act like ourselves, we're robbing people of blessings. We shouldn't be ashamed of who God made us to be. No matter what man says, God the potter created the clay perfectly. We find true purpose in life when we walk the path that He has laid out before us."