By Mark Ellis —
His father passed away when he was very young. Both his father and mother had been working for a gold mining company in South Africa.
“At school, they called us mine children,” Christo Spies told God Reports. “They told us more than once that we’ll end up with nothing. There’s nothing else we will do.
“So I formed a belief that I wouldn’t amount to anything,” he says.
However, Christo excelled in one area. “Luckily, I could play sports. I could hit anything with a ball.”
After high school, he began working in the mines and saved to buy himself a motorbike. Two weeks after he purchased the bike, he and his brother rode together near the mine. “I started showing him how the cages work that took me underground every day. And I got so focused on the cages that I made a U-turn in front of an approaching car.”
After the vehicle hit them, they were thrown into the air. Dazed and in shock, Christo lifted his head up and took off his helmet. Initially, he thought he was okay.
“When I wanted to get up I couldn’t because my leg was lying there next to me. It was completely off.”
Rushed to a hospital, doctors reattached his leg. “I thought it would all be okay. But I was in traction for three months, lying just in one position. In the end, the leg got sepsis where they attached it and after the sixth operation they told me they can’t do anything for it. They had to amputate my leg.”
When Christo received the horrible news, he was filled with anger. “When the doctors told me, I started swearing and throwing stuff at them. No one could come into my room. When my mom came in, I just started to cry because the only thing I could do was sports and now that was gone, so I I just cried and cried.”
The night before the amputation, a mysterious woman entered his room. “She said she wants to pray for me and she’s going to pray to a loving God who raised people from the dead.”
“God did not cause the accident,” she told him. “But he will be with you every step of the way.” When she put her hand on his shoulder and prayed, it felt like water flowing over him that brought an indescribable peace.
Later, he inquired about the woman and no one knew of any visitors that matched her description. Now, he believes she may have been an angel.
As a child, he attended church with his mother, because she believed it was the right thing to do. “We were very poor. We had two sets of neat clothes that we had to wear in public, and we had to go to church so people wouldn’t say Mom (as a widow) can’t raise her children.”
After his release from the hospital, Christo realized he couldn’t play sports and he didn’t want to work in the mines. “I didn’t want to have that kind of life, so I entered the university to become an accountant.”
He also got fitted for a prosthetic leg. “I was fairly thin and I struggled with it,” he says.
Surprisingly, he accepted an invitation one day to play cricket – without any running –as a designated hitter. “I believed I couldn’t run, and I lived up to my belief.”
But one day something surprising happened. Instead of sending the runner off in his place, he decided he would run himself. “And I did…suddenly I realized it was just a mind thing. I wanted to run desperately. I didn’t get a new prosthetic — I just could run!”
Encouraged by his breakthrough, he eased his way into playing tennis, squash, and racquetball. “I saw the effect that my leg had on my opponents. My leg got into their heads, and they adjusted their games. Then I realized the power of the mind.”
A friend invited him on a 620-mile cycling tour raising money for a Christian cause. Attracted by the fact that there would be 60 young single women – along with the men on the tour — he eagerly signed up.
“The first evening, they split us up into guy-girl prayer partners, and I got this beautiful girl as a prayer partner. She wanted to pray, and I said, ‘I can’t pray.’
“She started feeding me with the gospel. And I saw all these people had something that I didn’t have. I saw their joy. I saw the way they treated each other. It was not just about themselves.”
Christo was amazed as he thought about one day on their tour when he was struggling, tired, and had stopped on the side of the road. One of the guys stopped to help him and poured water into his bottle. I thought, why is this guy stopping?… this is crazy.
During the evening worship, the songs penetrated his heart. “It touched me. I was made for this,” he realized.
“At the end of the tour, I gave my life to the Lord,” he says. Christo surrendered his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and was born again.
After he began to follow Jesus, he stopped swearing and gave up drinking. Friends noticed the change, and inquired about it, which allowed him to witness to them. “In that period I had a big influence as a teacher, just living a Christian life, because I was so hungry for the Lord,” he recounts.
Later, he received an offer from a school to become an accounting teacher and a cricket coach, while studying theology on the side. During his last two years of seminary, he attended full-time. He also met and married his wife.
After seminary, he accepted an offer to become a school chaplain and cricket coach.
One day a friend playing for a professional team came to him for counseling. “He thought it was a spiritual problem and as I listened to him, I realized it wasn’t a spiritual problem. He’s a dedicated Christian. It was a mental problem because his mind was taking him places so that he couldn’t concentrate on the field.”
Christo gave him mental coaching exercises that he used when he competed. “The next day he was ‘man of the match’, in a big, big tournament.”
The man’s coach called Christo afterward and said, “What did you do to this guy?”
“We did one of these exercises,” Christo replied.
“Come and do it with my whole team!” the coach exclaimed.
Christo worked with their team. “It was the first time they did some proper mental preparation. It worked and they actually won the national title that year,” he notes.
Soon, more teams from a variety of different sports were seeking his wisdom. “It was the Lord sending them because I didn’t have any psychology. It was just the story about my leg and some reading I did on American mental coaches.”
“I formed a system, and the basis of the system is hope. Romans 15 says God is the giver of hope”:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Later, Christo received a call from Cassie Carstens, chairman of the sports ministry, SCAS, and also founder of a movement known as The World Needs A Father. “I didn’t know there was something called sports ministry,” Christo says.
But he jumped at Carsten’s offer to take over the work of SCAS in Cape Town.
“Our purpose is to serve and lead people in sport into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church. We have access to athletes and coaches that no organization or church has.
“With my contacts within the sports world, the Lord gave me back more as a coach than I would ever have achieved on my own. I’ve been in every rugby and cricket stadium in South Africa. (And many other countries around the world)
“Life’s greatest gift is Christ’s love and life’s greatest joy is sharing it. That’s what we try to do.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
To learn more about SCAS, go here