Gospel Light Minute – Jessica Long (#268)
She is an American Paralympic swimmer from Baltimore, Maryland, who competes in the S8, SB7 and SM8 category events. Originally from Siberia, she was adopted from a Russian orphanage at 13 months old. Born without fibula bones, ankles or heels, her legs were amputated below the knee at just 18 months in order for her to be fitted with prosthetic legs and be able to walk. Despite her disability professionally known as fibular hemimelia, she exploded on to the sports scene in 2004 when, at the tender age of 12, she won three gold medals at the Athens Paralympics. Since then, she has not slowed down or allowed her limb deficiency to hinder her from being a high achiever. She has held multiple world records and has won over a dozen gold medals over four Summer Paralympics and is looking to bag more medals at the upcoming Tokyo Games. In total, she has won 23 Paralympic medals, 13 being gold, along with 30 world medals, 24 being gold. Among the numerous awards and accolades garnered due to her accomplishments and winning spirit, she was named the 2006 U.S Olympic Committee’s Paralympian of the Year, and, in 2007, at the age of 15, she was the recipient of the AAU Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athlete. She is the first Paralympian to receive this honor, beating out such high-profile athletes as speed skater Apolo Ohno and fellow swimmer Michael Phelps, and is still the only athlete with a disability to win the award in its 82-year history; In 2008 she was the recipient of the Juan Antonio Samaranch International Olympic Committee [IOC] President’s Para Athlete Award; Twice she was named Para Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine and twice she was named Paralympic Sportswoman of the Year by the USOC; In 2015, she received the 2015 Trischa L. Zorn Award, given by USA Swimming for the outstanding performance of the year by a Para swimmer; Additionally, she is a 3x ESPY award winner (named Best Female Athlete with an Impairment).
In a recent video feature for I Am Second, the paralympian shared her testimony of choosing to trust in God and Jesus Christ as her Savior despite initially having feelings of resentment that she was born with an impairment.
Although she grew up going to church with her adoptive family, she says she didn’t like church, because “God made me this way” and “I knew I didn’t want anything to do with this God who made me this way.” She had to have surgery every time she grew which was “excruciating”. Having already experienced spectacular success when she was selected to represent America in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games just two years after she started swimming at the age of 10, she quickly found her identity in swimming, but says she was angry and sad a lot.
“One summer night, I was at my Friday night youth group Bible study,” she recounts. “And I’m sitting there, and I just couldn’t do it alone anymore. I got up and made the walk to the front, and I found this woman. I said, ‘You know, I want to give God my whole heart for once.’ I prayed with her, and as soon as I prayed, it was the first time in my entire life that I felt enough.”
She isn’t upset about being born with her condition anymore and she credits God for giving her the strength to forgive her birth mom for giving her up for adoption (She reunited with her biological parents in 2013 when she returned to Russia ahead of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Olympics where she presented NBC’s coverage of the Games). “My legs still cause me pain,” she says. “But I think it’s honestly this really cool, beautiful reminder that I can’t do it on my own. … I just put my head down and picture God almost racing alongside me when I swim. … I just feel Him [saying,] ‘Just keep trying, Jess. I’m here with you.'”
Her name is Jessica Tatiana Long.
This is the “Chief of Sinners,” Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, reminding you of what the Bible says, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” like you and me. Just as Jessica Long trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation, may I encourage you to do the same. Here is how:
1. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In fact, I am the chief of sinners, so don’t think that you’re alone.
2. Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
3. Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
4. Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
5. Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
6. With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Remember, friend, Believe by faith. Share the faith. and Keep the faith!