He’s a best-selling author, but is perhaps best known as a two-time national champion and Heisman Trophy winner. He’s multi-talented, playing both pro football and baseball. But Tim Tebow is not only a leader on the playing field, but the mission field - specifically helping orphans.
Grace Community School recently brought Tebow to Tyler, and we got a chance to sit down with him and talk about how helping children has become his passion and purpose.
Tebow, or “Timmy” as his family calls him, was born in 1987. They call him a miracle child. His parents, Pam and Bob, were missionaries, living in the Philippines when he was born. Pam had been told to abort the pregnancy to save her life, fearing complications.
After much prayer, Timmy came into the world by storm, and hasn’t stopped making his mark yet. The youngest of five children, he credits his parents and God for his success.
“I was blessed to have a wonderful mom and a wonderful dad that were incredible role models for me every single day. But it was not because of what they would tell me growing up; it was because of what I got to see every day,” Tebow said. “I got to see my dad give his entire adult life to people who could never do anything for him, and giving to the people of the Philippines and loving those people. And I had a mom who I don’t think I’ve heard her say anything bad about anyone, ever.”
Now 29 years old, this unabashed defender of his faith has devoted his life to helping others, too - in particular, orphans.
“That passion really started when I was a young boy, he said. “My dad started an orphanage because a mom died in childbirth and the husband ran away and the grandparent was taking the baby down to the river and said, ‘If no one wants this baby, I’m going to throw it in the river.’ So my dad was forced to act,” Tebow recalled.
It was more than 25 years ago that Bob Tebow started that orphanage in the Philippines. It has now been home to scores of children without parents. His son, Timmy, visits often.
“I got to see the impact of what it meant when these kids find their forever family and how much it can change their life.” Tebow said. “That was something that really impacted me to where I want to spend my life impacting these orphans and help them find forever families.”
So, this “evangelist in cleats,” as he’s been affectionately referred, started The Tim Tebow Foundation in 2010.
“We take care of a little over 2,000 orphans in four countries worldwide, but then we also have special-needs adoption where we help the courageous family that chooses to adopt someone with special needs and we help make that possible,” Tebow said, referring to how his foundation helps families through an adoption aid program.
I asked Tebow how it made him feel to know he is truly changing young lives. He replied, “It’s surreal to have the opportunity and the blessing to serve with everyone in our foundation. We really are changing a life. And is there anything more important than bringing faith, hope and love to somebody?”
That “somebody” is a child who no one wanted.
Tebow acknowledged, “A lot of the orphans we support have special needs. Some have been thrown on the street, some have been thrown away in garbage cans, some have been told they are worthless and some have been told they are cursed.”
He said this experience of helping less-fortunate children has made him very grateful for his own parents. They instilled in him a responsibility to give back to others as well as the importance of God’s word. Those are qualities Timmy now passes on to the orphans he serves.
“It’s amazing when they realize that the God of this universe loves them so much and cares for them, and He can turn their pain into power and He can help turn their weaknesses into wisdom and He can totally transform their life,” Tebow said.
He actually considers these orphans his family, and hopes others will want to make a difference in their lives, too.
“We all have different talents,” he said. “We all have different abilities. We all have some resource that we can be involved in. Every person can pray. A lot of people can give. A lot of people can help, and there are the courageous ones who choose to adopt. We all can be involved.”
I asked if he would ever consider adopting himself. Without hesitation he said with a big smile, “Absolutely! In a heartbeat! I’ve already had people try to talk me out of it because I want to adopt and I can’t wait.”
Although competitive on the field, his compassion for others, especially children, is commendable. Tim Tebow has been described as “modest,” “genuine” and “a true leader,” but perhaps his mother describes him best calling him “obedient and kind.” It’s a kindness that is forever touching the lives of orphans and giving them hope.
Tebow shared about some of the children he has helped, saying, “A kid who once had misty eyes and doubt of wondering if he’s loved, to now having all this passion to know that he has purpose, is transformational and one of the greatest joys of my life.”
To learn more about Christopher, join Gillian Sheridan for her Children are a Gift report next Tuesday night on CBS19 News at 6, and Wednesday on CBS19 This Morning. You can get information about East Texas children waiting for a forever family by calling 903-533-4242 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.