Tim Tebow: A point of light

While many have diminished or made fun of this initiative over the years, Tim Tebow serves as a reminder that we have agency to do things that help, to care for those overlooked, to bind up the wounded, and to be a point of light. Photo Credit: Tim Tebow/X.

Making a difference in a world run amok deserves a second look. 

Our first look at Tim Tebow took place almost twenty years back. As a University of Florida Gators quarterback, Tebow piloted the team to two National Championships in 2007 and 2009. Subsequently, Tebow played for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets but did not achieve notable success in pro football. 

The story does not end there. Known for his outspoken Christian faith, kneeling on the field to pray, and earnest desire to work hard, Tebow used his celebrity to bring attention to under-the-radar causes. Tebow founded the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2010, motivated to make a difference for people. On its web page, the foundation’s mission clearly states: “serve those who are hurting, marginalized, and trapped in darkness in 86 countries and counting. In addition to ministry operations and services that meet some of the most dire physical needs, TTF has a heart to share the Gospel with as many vulnerable people as possible to help them know their inherent value as children of God.” 

Tebow did not make the difference he wanted to in the NFL, but at age 36, he oversees the fight against child exploitation and seeks to value every life. Shannon Bream of FOX News recently sat down for an interview with Tebow. Amid our raging debates about whether men can be women, how many letters we can add to the evolving acronym for sexual orientation, how many flags should be honoured, or how long aggrieved groups deserve celebration comes a young man who quietly changes the lives of those for too long ignored. 

Tebow’s fight against child exploitation began when he learned that about 20,000 children worldwide were unidentified. Several vested agencies gathered in Lyon, France (Interpol, Homeland Security, Google and others) to further examine the problem. After sharing information and going through records, the conference determined that there were over 50,000 unidentified children in global databases, with over 65 per cent of them under 12 and 4.3 per cent infants. Tebow launched his foundation in 2010 to care for the MVP (Most Vulnerable People). The foundation has a presence in over 80 countries today. It continues to focus on identifying victims of human trafficking and child exploitation and bringing their abusers to justice with the help of law enforcement. 

When Bream asked Tebow to explain the solution to the problem, Tebow lit up with interest. First, Tebow disclosed, the spear’s tip is hiring identification specialists who possess unique skills and know how to cut through various clues. They are hard to find, and with only seven on the team, many more need to be trained and hired. 

As Tebow emphasizes: “They are amazing frontline workers. The bits of information they get can lead them to Tampa or Thailand.” Regardless, the work continues, and Tebow leads the charge. The worth and value of every person matters to someone who once stood atop the world of College Football, the winner of its most prestigious trophy (The Heisman), and the best-known college athlete for a brief few years over a decade ago. Still, it does not end there for Tebow. 

Bream also prevailed on Tebow to talk about another significant mission in his foundation, A Night to Shine. 

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Tebow describes it as his favourite night of the year. It is a night to celebrate the overlooked, the ignored and the forgotten. As a retired Special Education teacher, I paid particular attention to Tebow’s message. He has an unmistakable passion for this. As a Christian, he believes each person has value, including the estimated 16 per cent of the population who deal with learning disabilities, developmental delays, or intellectual disorders. 

A leading expert in the field when I attended Teacher’s College was Dr. Don Dworet at Brock Univeristy. Dr. Dworet may not have coined the term exceptional for these learners, but Tebow seems to be an adherent. 

On the website, the foundation, littered with photos of Tebow with these beautiful children and adults, states: “Creating change that lasts is a slow process and not an easy one. But taking that first step is the most important part of the process, which we take by shifting our mindset. When we truly begin to view ALL people as being made in the image of God, the inherent value of each and every individual becomes impossible to argue. We understand that God assigns meaning and purpose to every human life. A person can no longer be viewed as a nobody. He or she is somebody – and not just somebody, God’s creation. People’s differences or perceived limitations are no longer what defines them. They are indeed special, but not in the way the phrase ‘special needs’ so often describes. They are special simply because they are His beloved children, perfectly and purposefully made in the image of their Creator.”

At the end of the most recent Night to Shine, Tebow related a conversation with one of his foundation workers who noticed a red carpet rolled up after the event. The worker observed that, unlike the rolled-up carpet, they could never roll up the worth, value, and love poured into the individuals. 

Tebow probably summed it up best as the interview with Bream closed: “The night might end, but the worth and value for all of humanity, for the 16 per cent of the world’s population that so many times has been looked past, has looked beyond, hasn’t been seen as valuable, but we know to our God they have infinite value and worth and we want to share that so they can truly experience it and know that.”

George H. W. Bush emphasized this theme in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 1988 and later at his Inauguration when he referred to a thousand points of light. 

Bush said: “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.” 

While many have diminished or made fun of this initiative over the years, Tim Tebow serves as a reminder that we have agency to do things that help, to care for those overlooked, to bind up the wounded, and to be a point of light. 

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