Vatican City, Feb 6, 2020 / 10:37 am (CNA).- He is a Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time college football champion, a sports broadcaster, and one of the most watched players ever to play professional football, even while his career was short-lived. At 32, he is also a minor-league baseball player, taking the field with almost no chance of a big league career, and against players ten years younger than him, solely for love of the game.
Tim Tebow is recognized, beloved, and respected by millions around the world, even years after his career as a spread option quarterback sputtered.
Those things, though, are not the most important to Tim Tebow. Most important to him is faith in Jesus Christ, Tebow says. Tebow is well-known as an Evangelical Christian, the son of missionaries, and an outspoken witness to his convictions about living the Christian life.
When he met Pope Francis at the Vatican Feb. 5, Tebow talked with the pope about his faith, and especially about the project, borne of that faith, that had brought him to Rome.
“Our visit to the Vatican was a great experience for our entire team and it was a joy to meet with Pope Francis to share with him our heart for people with special needs and the joy that we experienced at Night to Shine – Rome,” Tebow told CNA after the visit.
Night to Shine, the project Tebow talked about with Pope Francis, hosts proms – dances – for people with intellectual disabilities and other special needs around the world. Tebow began the project in 2014, and sponsors it through the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Tebow hosted the first Night to Shine in Rome earlier this week. He told CNA he hopes it is the first of many such events in Italy.
“Our hope is that Night to Shine could grow across Italy and the entire world, where we all celebrate and love people with special needs,” the athlete told CNA.
Tebow told EWTN News on Tuesday that part of Night to Shine’s purpose is to let people with special needs know “they matter, that they have significance — and more than just to us, but to the God of this universe, because we believe that everybody has value, everybody has meaning.
“God loves every single person. They were created in love, by love, and for love and God loves them just the way they are,” Tebow added.
When he met with Pope Francis on Wednesday, Tebow reiterated those things. He and his wife, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, spoke with Pope Francis after his Wednesday audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
After Tebow explained the project, the athlete told CNA, he got some words of encouragement from Pope Francis.
“Thank you for the important work you’re doing,” Tebow says Pope Francis told him.
“Keep it up!”
Tebow has every intention of doing just that.