Jerine Fleurke, 1996 Olympic volleyball player for the Netherlands, was raised by parents who were devoted to Jesus Christ and took her to church every Sunday. "But personally, it didn't mean anything to me," she said.
Their faith had not become her faith until she moved away from home.
"When I was 18 years old I moved to another city to study," she says. "One time I walked around in the center of the city, which was all new for me. I asked a girl the way to a market. She didn't know, but she asked me if she could ask me a question. Of course,' I said. Then she asked me if I believed in God and Jesus Christ."
Jerine had head knowledge, given by her parents, but not heart knowledge. She was confronted with a decision to put into practice what she knew was right, or to continue to live on her own terms.
God's timing is always perfect. He knew that Jerine needed to be confronted, and he used someone she had never met to draw her into the faith that her closest family members her parents had encouraged her to accept all of her life.
"I had to make a choice and I asked Jesus to come into my heart," Jerine says. "I started to read the Bible and to pray. This was the first step of a living relationship with Jesus."
Jerine, a professional volleyball player since the 96 Olympics, asks Jesus to guide her through all phases of life including for whom to play volleyball.
"When playing volleyball is not going that well, I always think, Volleyball is not everything in my life,' " Jerine says. "Happily, I know Jesus and that's enough. If I have to make some decisions I always ask God to lead me and show me the way."
Jerine knows that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6), and she plays with the goal of revealing Him to others. One of her favorite verses helps her understand that success in volleyball or any other aspect of life apart from Christ really isn't success at all. The verse is Matthew 16:26: "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
"In terms of what drives me, it's my relationship with God. It's not being the best athlete."
That perspective keeps Edwards from getting depressed when he doesn't succeed. Though favored to win the gold medal in the triple jump in Atlanta in 1996, he won the silver. He was immediately reminded of 1 Peter 1:7. Edwards says, "The testing of my faith was, and is, much more important than Gold."
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