Former Northern Colorado linebacker close to a full-ride scholarship to Baylor Theological Seminary
On some level, regardless of religion, race, background or sport, many athletes will say that their faith plays a large role in how they do on the field.
Linebacker Cameron Friend, who recently graduated from UNC, will tell you the exact same thing.
Friend, who - prior to coming to the University of Northern Colorado - was a four-year letter winner in both football and basketball at Mullen High School in Denver, will be quick to talk of his relationship with Jesus Christ over his accomplishments on the gridiron.
"We call it 'AO 1,' and that means 'Audience of One,' which is just you play as if God was in the stands watching you," Friend said. "So you just give it everything you've got, and no matter the result, you give Him the praise."
Friend doesn't live by his faith just on the field. For him, living the Gospel is just as important as playing for God.
"Being Christ-like in the locker room means upholding yourself to Godly standards, and always making sure that you are someone that (teammates) can rely on, that they can lean on in times of pressure," Friend said. "If they need to talk to someone, they can talk to you, just being available."
Friend first accepted Christ into his life, though, after he arrived at UNC.
"I grew up around a lot of gangs, so violence was tough and everything," Friend said. "I got up here, and eventually, I was just getting the pull on my heart that I needed to make changes in my life, and in January 2010, I first accepted Christ into my life after reading Matthew 25, and basically Jesus laid out that a time was going to come when he was going to separate His sheep from the goats, and I knew I wanted to be one of the sheep."
Friend has gotten the opportunity to attend many faith-based conferences and has gotten chances to share his faith on the road.
"Athletes in Action flew me down to New Orleans, and they took us into the Ninth Ward to share the Gospel with over 400 people, and 126 people accepted Christ that day," Friend said. "In Atlanta, there was a conference called Passion going on, and I had no intention of going. God told me I need to go. The conference is for over 70,000 people, and costs over $300 per person to go, and you have to sign up months before. I go to the Georgia Dome, where the conference is being held, I get in for free. I end up sharing this testimony with a lot of people."
Friend used many social media tools to spread his belief to others, saying that he feels any method is a perfect method to share the Word of God.
"Everything in our life is a platform to glorify the Lord," Friend said. "Whether or not we recognize it, we can influence certain kinds of people with the Gospel. Whether you're on the football field, or you're reporting, or whether you're coaching, or whether you're a janitor, you always have a platform to work on, and that is how you use it to share the faith. Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, it's just another way to let people know who Jesus is."
Having a coach who also has a relationship with Jesus Christ can be helpful. Head coach Earnest Collins Jr. said sharing the faith, which is his highest calling in life, helps him connect on a deeper level should the need arise.
"You try and get to know your players, and you talk to them about different things, and some players, when they're going through adversity, you can talk to them about different lessons they learned through their faith and reading the Bible, and people that had struggles and had to fight," Collins said. "You can send them to a book like Job or a book like James, so that now they can go and see an example of what they're living, and they can translate that onto the field."
Friend is close to a full-ride scholarship to Baylor Theological Seminary, where he'll be pursuing a career at the pulpit. While serving the Lord in a church is something he wants to pursue, he said he feels more led to spread the Gospel in the field.
"Catalytic prophetic ministry," Friend said of his ultimate intentions. "Meaning I'll be a speaker at a church, but more so evangelizing to people who don't know the Gospel, or just people of other religions to know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life."
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