Defender of the faith

Mike Fisher
Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators skates against Samuel Girard #49 of the Colorado Avalanche during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 20, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Canadian hockey player Mike Fisher's story is for readers who may think that Christians are weak people who come to faith for a "crutch" because they are ill, in trouble or incarcerated. Mike has been a star athlete, is good looking, married to a country music singer, wealthy and grew up in a happy home. He even had a small role in the 2007 Transformers movie!

And yet he admits that he still needs God – that without the purpose and love knowing Jesus fills his life with, all the rest is meaningless.

"When I first realised my goal (to play professional ice hockey) at the age of 19, it should have been the happiest time of my life; but I had never felt so empty. I remember going out that night to a bar, getting drunk, making a poor decision and waking up the next morning feeling like the worst piece of [rubbish]," he shares on Youtube.

Mike began playing in the Canadian National Hockey League in 1999 for the Ottawa Senators. Over the next several seasons, he became an integral part of the team, eventually becoming an alternative captain. He played for Team Canada in the 2005 World Championships.

Mike was known for his aggressive play, but also for his speed and skill. He holds Ottawa's unofficial hardest shot record at 105 mph (169 km/h).

In 2011, the centre was traded to the Nashville Predators so that he could be closer to Country singer Carrie Underwood, whom he had married the year before. They now have two sons together.

Mike came to faith as a kid. "I grew up going to church on Sundays. My parents always stressed this as a central part of my life and I grew to understand the importance of having a balance in life and finding a purpose through our Creator. I believe we are all gifted in certain areas and it's our responsibility to use these gifts that God has given us for His glory.

"Playing hockey in the NHL was a dream of mine since I was young, and realizing this dream at the age of 19 was an unbelievable experience for me. It's hard for me to describe how lucky I felt to play the game I love.

"However, I came to realize that playing in the NHL is only a small part of who I was, and not the part that defined me. Shortly after the night I was drafted and felt so lost, I did a Bible study with my cousin, who I was living with at the time, and read the verse: 'For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?'" (Matthew 16:26).

That verse convicted Mike of the sin and foolishness in his life and he confessed these to God and asked for help to live right from then on. "God gave me the power to do that and it was awesome.

Mike and Elgin-Alexander
Mike Fisher and Elgin-Alexander Fraser in 2007.

"As I have grown in my faith, I have come to realize that it is not about religion but relationship. Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is what I believe truly defines a person and how we find eternal significance.

"Everything else fades away and becomes wood, hay and straw. Sometimes it's very humbling to realize that we are here today and gone tomorrow."

Mike's faith has been lived out in how he gives back to the community through hockey camps, charity work and donations.

For instance, in 2007, Mike took three-year-old Elgin-Alexander Fraser, who was dying of cancer, for a twirl on the ice with him in full ice-hockey kit. This was to fulfil one of the final wishes of the little boy's life, before he succumbed to neuroblastoma – a terminal nerve cancer. Elgin smiled and laughed throughout the experience.

In May 2018, Mike retired from professional ice hockey, although not from his humanitarian work. Besides the small acting roles he has had previously, he has also launched a lifestyle brand called "Catchin' Deers" and spends his time running after his young sons.

Mike has written a book called Defender of the Faith: The story of a man who never gave up on a dream, which is available online.

"I find true comfort in God's grace knowing that I fall short in many ways, but He is always there for me through the good times and bad – no matter what," he concludes.

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