New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow took to the pulpit this morning in Austin, Texas, on the holiest day of the Christian calendar to share his personal story of faith. In an interview during the service that lasted for about 20 minutes, he explained how he believes God deserves all the glory.
Pastor Joe Champion at Celebration Church said s he received an "out of the blue" phone call from Tebow, asking whether he could come to Austin and speak on Easter Sunday.
Champion accepted the offer.
The church rented more than 100 buses to drive people to the service, and people arrived hours early to save a seat near the front.
About 15,000 people attended the outdoor service. "They're calling it Tebowing," Tebow said at the service today.
"I really don't think I was the first athlete to get on my knees and pray. But I think it's pretty cool, because prayer is being talked about. And it's OK to be outspoken about your faith, and get on your knee and pray about it."
Champion said, "Obviously, it's our Super Bowl," Champion said. "Easter is the resurrection of Christ in which we celebrate in our faith."
He said that despite his famous guest today, the message is still that God is great. "There will be a sacredness of Easter. It's not a Tim Tebow show; it's not about a celebrity," Champion said.
The man nicknamed "God's quarterback" is known for "Tebowing," where he drops to one knee in prayer during games has brought Christianity to the gridiron in a way never seen before.
Champion said, "When it comes to Christianity, right now it's the pope and Tebow."
Tebow, 24, has spoken publicly about his religious beliefs before, saying, "I think the greatest way to share the gospel is by acting it."
In the NFL in particular, players have a history of finding their true selves in ministry, but usually after their playing days are over. Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers was a pastor. The Dallas Cowboys' Ken Hutcherson and the San Diego Chargers' Miles McPherson became pastors after they left the game.