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I Am an Ambassador

By: President Matt Proctor

Not Just a Tattoo

Carson Wentz represents.

The Pro Bowl quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, Wentz has seen great success on the football field. He won two national championships in college, sports a Super Bowl ring, and when he runs onto the field, seventy thousand Philly fans roar. But tattooed on his right wrist are two letters and a number—AO1—that declare who he’s really playing for. AO1 stands for “Audience of One,” and Carson explains, “At the end of the day, we’re not playing for the fans, we’re not playing for the media. We are playing to please the Lord.” [1]

Since giving his life to Christ in college, Wentz has actively shared his faith in magazine articles, radio interviews, on his cleats, in churches and on mission trips to Haiti. (On one trip, he met Maddie Oberg, an OCC alum working in a Haitian mission, and now they serve Christ together as husband and wife.) Though some criticize his outspoken Christianity, Wentz is not deterred. “The NFL is a big stage. I have a lot of eyes on me. I want to do my best to take the eyes off me and redirect them toward Jesus.”[2]

An ambassador represents a higher authority, and Carson Wentz knows: he is an ambassador for Christ.

Not Just a Jersey

Elijah Connatser represents.

When Elijah got in trouble as a kid, his parents’ discipline was exercise: “Go run around the block.” Eventually, the tactic lost its effectiveness because Elijah took to running like a fish to water. His punishment became his passion. A standout high school cross country runner, he chose to continue his athletic career at OCC. Last fall, as a freshman, Elijah won the NCCAA Division II national championship in cross country—the first NCCAA champion in OCC history.

“[Olympic runner] Steve Prefontaine said, ‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,’” quotes Elijah. “‘That God has given’ is my own little add-on. You do your best because God gave you this talent, and when you use it, you are giving it back to him.” He says with a laugh, “Coach Butler always says, ‘If you walk in my jersey, I’ll rip it off.’ We run hard in those Ozark Christian College jerseys because we’re not just running for Ozark. We’re running for Christ.”

An ambassador represents a higher authority, and Elijah Connatser knows: he is an ambassador for Christ.

Not Just a Mascot

I represent.

Confession: when I enrolled at OCC at age 18, I didn’t like our mascot. Tigers, Hawks, Warriors—any of these teams would have been easy to cheer for, but an “ambassador” didn’t seem very fierce. Ambassadors bargain with other nations, so what was I supposed to holler at basketball games? “Go, Ambassadors! Work out a compromise!” I imagined the cheerleaders: “Two! Four! Six! Eight! What can we negotiate?” Our mascot didn’t seem inspiring.

But over the years, I’ve learned better. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are Christ’s ambassadors.” An ambassador represents a higher authority, and we want every student-athlete at Ozark—indeed, every student—to know they who they represent. They are a walking advertisement for Jesus, a constant commercial for Christ, and their lives must always point to him. As one of our coaches likes to say, “Students today, alumni tomorrow, Ambassadors forever.”

In our most recent issue of The Ambassador, we focused on OCC’s athletic program, and I love it that our sports team bear that name. I can think of no better lifetime label for Ozark alumni, and thirty years after enrolling at OCC, I now wear that word with a sense of gratitude, responsibility and pride.

I am an Ambassador.

[1] Maaddi, Rob. Birds of Pray, Zondervan, 2018, pp. 47-51.
[2] Ibid.

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