Friday, July 24, 2015

British Open Champion, Fallen Away Catholic and Fervent Evangelical Baptist

Zach Johnson of the US celebrates after winning the British Open
golf championship in St Andrews, Scotland, July 20, 2015

Zach Johnson: I was reading scripture during Open victory

Zach Johnson won at The Masters National in Augusta, Georgia, USA in 2007 and this past Monday, at The Old Course at Saint Andrews, Fife, Scotland, the British Open. Would that he should return to the Sacraments!
"Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you." John 6:54b


Golfer Zach Johnson says his surprise win in this week's Open Golf tournament was partly inspired by his devotion to prayer and the Bible. The 39-year-old American was a rank outsider, but saw off the threat of emerging superstar Jordan Spieth to win the second Major of his career at St Andrews on Monday. A committed Christian, he told reporters that he'd been reading verses of scripture in order to stay focused throughout the tournament.

"I was reading bits of scripture to myself, things like Psalm 24:7 (which reads, "Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in")," he told reporters. "I've been reading them all week. I thank God for the talent he's given me, and I take it seriously." In a TV interview, he suggested that these verses had helped to give him focus during difficult conditions. "I had some scripture going in my head and I thank the Lord," he said.

Johnson's words in victory echoed his response to winning his previous Major, the US Masters, in 2007. After that win, he told the assembled media: "I felt regardless of what happened today, my responsibility was to glorify God, and hopefully he thinks I did."

The golfer has always been upfront about his faith. In a testimony article on the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) website, Johnson says that after growing up in a Catholic household and then heading off in a more worldly direction as a student, he became a Christian after meeting the woman who would go on to become his wife, and for whom marrying a non-Christian would be a 'deal-breaker'. He says he then agreed to explore the faith again.

"I discovered what it meant to 'live for Christ,'" he says, "and that it honestly was something I wanted to do. The facts were there, and I could sense the Holy Spirit at work. Early in the winter of 2002, I gave my life to the Lord. Before I was one," he says, "I always thought being a Christian would be boring. In reality, it has been the complete opposite."

Johnson now refers to his pre-Christian life (with not too much political correctness) as "my blind years", and says his faith now is "all that matters." Monday's victory, and the attached £1.15 million prize, are presumably just a huge bonus.

Martin Saunders is a Contributing Editor for Christian Today and the Deputy CEO of Youthscape. You can follow him on Twitter: @martinsaunders

The Testimony Article

My Story: Zach Johnson, PGA Golfer
May 13th, 2010 | Author: FCA

I’ll try to give you the condensed version… I grew up in Iowa in a great Christian household where church was very important. I went to a Catholic school, so I had religion classes from first through 12th grade. My mom even worked at the church and the school. She just recently retired from that to work for the governing body of the archdiocese. So, I certainly grew up in a Christian household—Jesus was very much the foundation.

For me, however, it felt like I was just following the footsteps of friends and more or less doing what I was told to do. So, after high school, I went my own direction. It was Zach’s agenda; whatever I wanted to do, I did it. My faith didn’t carry much significance.

I graduated from Drake University in 1998 and started playing golf on the mini tours and traveling around the United States. In the winters I would go to Florida to practice.

Then, in 2000, I met a girl named Kim. I really liked her. We hit it off and soon started dating. I was still traveling during the summer seasons, but we maintained our relationship. Over time, I realized that faith in Christ was extremely important to her and that marrying a Christian man was pretty much a dealbreaker for her.

At that point in my life, I knew there was a God. I knew there was an ultimate creator—someone watching over things—but I didn’t give it much thought. In order for Kim and me to find out if we were best for each other, we took a pre-engagement class together at a church. Through that, not only were a lot of my questions answered, but a lot more surfaced. But that’s where God took over. With the research I did in response to those questions and with help from Kim and other Christian friends, I discovered what it meant to “live for Christ,” and that it honestly was something I wanted to do. The facts were there, and I could sense the Holy Spirit at work. Early in the winter of 2002, I gave my life to the Lord.

Since then, my priorities have certainly changed. It’s not Zach’s agenda anymore.

I refer to the years after high school and before making my decision as my “blind years.” Now, I can see.

Before I was one, I always thought being a Christian would be boring. In reality, it has been the complete opposite. There is joy, fulfillment and even fun! There also are challenges and trials, but knowing that my foundation lies in Jesus and what He has done for me is what is important. It’s all that matters.
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