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CBN.com Oh, the sweet taste of victory. New Jersey Devils’ Right Wing Mike Rupp enjoyed an ice cream sundae straight out of one of the most prized trophies in sports -- the Stanley Cup. Just days earlier Mike scored the game-winning goal that launched the Devils to the championship.
“At the time it’s just such an energy rush,” he tells The 700 Club. “You score the goal, and it’s deafening the sound in the arena. It’s just an amazing experience.”
Growing up, hockey was Mike’s religion. But at the age of 19, his soon-to-be wife Christi led him to Jesus.
“She took a lot of time and was very patient in answering questions,” he recalls, “and it was a time of learning and really questioning if I was going to heaven or not.”
Mike said yes to God and two years later said “I do” to Christi.
Before Mike’s mountaintop moment in the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, he played with several minor league teams until he made it to the NHL.
“I would come home and say to my wife, ‘What are we doing?’ Part of me just wanted to say I’m done with this and go home. Something kept saying that this is your job and don’t do it for men. Do it for the Lord.”
That’s exactly what he did.
“I started getting in the Word and giving Him my No. 1 instead of hockey. Usually the Lord got what was left over, and I reversed it. Things just started taking off for hockey.”
But not long after his game-winning Stanley Cup goal, Mike faced surgery for heart arrhythmia.
“It was scary when I went to the doctor and realized how serious it was,” he says. “My heart rate was peaking at 300 beats-a-minute. It just made me believe [that] I have two beautiful kids and a beautiful wife that wouldn’t have a dad or a husband. I’m just thankful to the Lord that through this procedure it was fixed.”
Mike was able to lace up the skates and get back on the ice. He says his perseverance comes from the strength of his faith.
“My nose right now -- I broke it. I’ve separated both shoulders, broken ankle, broken foot, had a concussion. I’m trying to be as fearless as I can, and I just think when I get that mentality that it gives me an inner peace to be who God created me to be.”
Obviously hockey is a rough sport. You’ve got to be tough. But Mike says you can still be a Christian and play in the NHL.
“I always had the mentality that Christianity was a weakness or was this prim and proper thing to do. As a man it’s not very appealing when you picture it to be that. I’ve come to realize that from reading my Bible that Jesus was nothing but grit. He is as man as it gets.”
Mike isn’t guaranteed another sweet celebration in the NHL. But he’s skating with one goal in mind: being who God created him to be.
Mike says, “I think God’s plan is very inconvenient for us. It’s hard to grasp. It showed me that this is really out of my hands. It’s in God’s hands wherever my career is to lead me or my life is to lead me. It just brings it back and gets the stress of my life not to be on that but to be what God wants me to be.”
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