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Ben Malcolmson Discusses Football, Faith, and Purpose


Ben Malcolmson, director of external relations and assistant to Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, joins us to discuss his new book, “Walk On: From Pee Wee Dropout to the NFL Sidelines — My Unlikely Story of Football, Purpose, and Following an Amazing God.”

Ben explains that he was a “walk-on” on the USC football team. “A walk-on is a guy that’s on a team that doesn’t have a scholarship. So, he pays his own way to be in college.”

Father Dave asks Ben to share how he tried to evangelize in college. “When I made the team, I knew that I was there for a divine reason,” Ben says. “That God had me on that team for a purpose … You feel a nudge on your heart that God has you in a certain place for some reason, and I couldn’t wait to see what it was. I tried to start a Bible study for the team and no one showed up. I tried to start a prayer group for the team, no one showed up.”

“I was reading Isaiah 55 where it says, ‘If his word goes out it does not come back empty.’ So, I figured, if I put his word out there, if I put Bibles out there, it won’t come back empty. God would achieve his purposes through that. So, I got 100 bibles and placed one in every locker, and I couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for this … I go into the locker room excited to see what was going to happen with these Bibles, and they were shredded. Just torn up, thrown all over the floor, and filling up the garbage cans. I was obviously devastated. It was heartbreaking.”

Ben shares a turning point in this story: “I ended up going through the rest of that week. We won the Rose Bowl. It was an amazing experience, but I just felt like I had missed my calling and purpose of being on that team. A few days after the Rose Bowl, I get a phone call saying that one of my teammates, Mario, had tragically passed away in the middle of the night. So, now I was not only dealing with this discouragement of missing my purpose but now I was dealing with the grief of the death of a close friend of mine. It was crushing. We went to his funeral a few days after the news, and they carry his casket down the center aisle and on top of his casket was the Bible that I placed in his locker. I had no idea what it meant at the time, but I just felt like God was giving me comfort.”

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“I took a job in Seattle in 2010 … It was an amazing jump, but I was lonely. I was looking for community, and I heard about this group called Young Life. It’s a faith-based mentorship program that’s involved with a lot of high schools, and I got involved with that. At our first meeting, a former teammate of mine, Taylor, walks in, and I was so confused … He starts telling me that his life had totally turned around over the last few years. And I asked what happened, and he said, ‘You remember that last week on our team together there was those Bibles in our lockers?’ And I hadn’t thought about those Bibles in years. It symbolized discouragement and really the death of a teammate of mine. The last time I saw the Bible it was on the top of his casket.”

“I never told anyone that it was me who placed the Bibles in the lockers,” Ben continues. “It was completely anonymous. … Taylor starts telling me that he grew up in the faith, and when he went to college, he fell away and saw a Bible in his locker that morning and was confused as to who was trying to shove religion down his throat. And he threw it in the back of his locker, just didn’t want to see it or think about it. And he was going out to practice that day thinking that he was the last one to leave the locker room, and he hears a voice in the back corner of the locker room saying, ‘What is this?’ And he turns around, and it’s Mario, thumbing through the Bible asking, ‘What is this?’ And Taylor turns around and screams back at Mario, ‘Mario have you never seen a Bible before?’ And Mario said no. He asked what he was supposed to do with it. And for some reason, Taylor turns around and sits down next to Mario and takes him through the Bible and shares the good news about God and God’s love for us … and days later, Mario had begun a relationship with God, and days after that, he mysteriously dies and goes to Heaven. And I didn’t know this until four years later. And I heard this and was on the verge of tears, and Taylor tells me that when he got the call the Mario passed away, he on the spot turned his life over to God again.” Original Air 9-06-18