Women’s World Cup experience opens doors for Cox’s witness
Wednesday, Jul 27, 2011
By Tim Ellsworth
BOSTON (BP)—Though she was part of the U.S. Women’s World Cup team competing in Germany, Stephanie Cox spent much of her time on the bench. In six total games, Cox played in two of them for a total of 67 minutes.
The lack of playing time was frustrating for Cox, a defender. But it was also a reminder of her responsibility to her teammates, regardless of how much time she spent on the field.
“I see that God has me there for a bigger purpose than for me to excel at my sport, or just wins and losses,” Cox said. “It’s more about the effect I can have on my teammates. My responsibility is to show them Christ.”
Cox said she tried to cheer loudly for her teammates, supporting them and encouraging them in their efforts. In doing so, she hoped that they could see her love for them – and Christ’s love in her -- shining through.
“Eternity’s worth more than playing every game,” she said.
A native of Elk Grove, Calif., Cox grew up in a Christian home and was a faithful member of First Baptist Church (a North American Baptist Conference congregation) there. She made a profession of faith at a young age and took several mission trips with her family as a youth.
As she grew older and became more involved with playing soccer, Cox said she often struggled with figuring out how the sport could fit with her life as a Christian. “How could God use my role as a soccer player?” she asked herself.
She often felt during high school as if soccer competed with her relationship with the Lord. Her commitment to the sport often caused her to miss youth group events or other church activities. But when she began her college career at the University of Portland, she discovered something important about the connection between soccer and her faith.
“When I got to college, some other girls on the team were Christians, and I realized you could find a community of Christians wherever you are,” Cox said. “I’ve been trying to seek after communities on my teams ever since. That’s an encouragement to my faith and my relationship with God – because often you can’t go to church on Sundays.”
During her time in Germany as part of the Women’s World Cup team, Cox said she could see ways in which God was moving on her team. She and several of her Christian teammates often prayed for team unity, and Cox said they felt God bringing them together.
“We were just so grateful that He was writing a bigger story than we could have,” Cox said.
They held regular Bible studies, and on one Sunday gathered to sing worship songs and listen to an online sermon.
The tournament’s outcome was a heartbreaking one for Cox and her teammates, who lost to Japan in the championship game. But Cox said the World Cup experience has given women’s soccer more exposure, and given her and other Christian teammates a greater platform to talk about their relationship with Christ.
“So even though we lost, I feel so honored to be a part of a team that so many people were watching and so many people were taking notice of,” Cox said. “I almost feel like we won, in a way.”
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