Other than their new identities as teenage Olympic gold medalists, Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin don’t seem to have a lot in common. Gabby, 16 and of African-American descent, grew up in Virginia Beach as one of four children. Missy, 17, is a Canadian-American currently residing in Colorado, her parents’ only child.
Gymnast Gabby stands at just 4’11” tall, while swimmer Missy towers at 6’1”. In a sport that requires just as much artistry as it does raw athleticism, Gabby is as graceful and elegant as they come. Missy, on the other hand, relies on perfect form and sheer muscle power to get her to the finish line. Both have made their fair share of headlines as the 2012 London Olympic Games, but why write an article comparing them?
Because Gabby and Missy share more than meets the eye.
Both girls are devout Christians who have openly expressed their ultimate reliance on God in these Olympic Games.
Meet Gabby Douglas
Gabby, who was raised in a Christian home by her mother Natalie (for more on their amazing relationship, check out this Proctor & Gamble video), has given God the glory for her success as a gymnast long before this summer. But with the Individual All-Around title as well as a team gold now under her belt, she is under more scrutiny than ever before. While she’s become a hero to many, others seem intent on tearing her down. From disrespectful comments about her hair to outright criticisms of her Christian faith, Gabby has had to deal with an unfortunate amount of hostility, particularly from the press.
One reporter from Salon.Com, in a skeptical article entitled “Did God help Gabrielle Douglas win?,” went so far as to write, “I would like her more if she were not so, so, so into Jesus.” Yet despite such attacks, Gabby has remained unwavering in her commitment to glorify God through her success.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” she tweeted soon after winning her All-Around medal.
Meat Missy Franklin
Missy, unlike her smaller, more flexible compatriot, didn’t become a Christian until high school. In an interview with Beliefnet.com (view it here ), she explains, “Religion was not important in my parents’ upbringing… I never had a church home.” But soon after she started attending a Jesuit high school, she began a personal relationship with the Lord.
“One of my favorite times is going to our beautiful school chapel and spending time with God,” she shares. “I now really work on keeping my faith strong.” Somewhat surprisingly, the press has paid far less attention to Missy’s vocalizations of her faith, even after she won four gold medals, one bronze, and set two world records. Regardless, she, too, has praised God for her success via Twitter, tweeting, “I am so grateful for everything that has happened. God has blessed me with so much.”
Both Are An Inspiration
In a country where Christians are increasingly discouraged from publicly expressing their faith, Gabby and Missy are inspiring to say the least. Not only are they two of the most successful Olympians of 2012, they are two high school students who have been brave enough to share their faith with millions during the most prominent international sporting event in the world.
As you think about the example set Gabby and Missy, how could you go about living with a similar commitment to your faith and a boldness to share it with others?
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