Going into this year’s SEA Games, Yeo Jia Min wrestled with mixed feelings; she was not going to take part in the individual event despite her really wanting to.
Midway through SEA Games, she, along with other more experienced badminton players like Loh Kean Yew, left for the Badminton World Federation’s Sudirman Cup that was held in China.
Due to the clashing schedules, Jia Min only participated in the women’s team event, where they clinched the joint bronze medal.
Nonetheless, she chose to trust in God: “I knew that even if things don’t go the way I wanted them to, it’s still part of God’s plan.
“I just have to trust in Him and focus on doing my part well.”
We asked how Jia Min felt about the bronze medal, and she said: “I feel that there is still much for us to work on as a team, but I’m proud that my teammates gave their all for each match.”
Jia Min is determined for the higher prize, noting that she “hopes to be able to help the team again in the next edition and go for gold.”
National athletes like Jia Min commit countless hours daily to training and practice in order to become the best athletes.
Amidst her packed schedules and high levels of commitment towards her sport, however, she still makes time to seek God intentionally.
“It’s my relationship with God that deepens whenever I choose to let go of fear, of doubts and of any negativity that comes to my mind.”
She opened up about a recent time, when she battled with unpleasant thoughts that discouraged her.
In such moments, she intentionally chooses God “through prayer, songs of worship, and choosing to listen to that small voice that tells me to focus on Him”.
For the 24-year-old, that is how she draws “peace, strength, faith and purpose from God again and again”.
Choosing to focus on God helps to ground her in His presence and providence.
Playing sports for God
“There have been times when I questioned if I was meant to do this,” Jia Min shared honestly. “When nothing seemed to work after repeated losses and repeated mistakes.”
“But I just didn’t give up.”
Investing blood, sweat and tears into training and practising doesn’t guarantee a harvest of medals, but Jia Min sees greater value in living her faith out through sports.
In a previous interview with Thir.st, she shared about life as a national athlete:
“It doesn’t always promise you the same returns of what you sacrifice or the work that you put in.
“But it does make us a stronger person and give us a stronger faith in God if we continue to invite Him into our lives.”
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8)
We are all called to greatness. God has given us gifts that we ought to steward excellently for His glory.
For Jia Min, it was badminton.
Her journey of growth as an athlete wasn’t easy, but she constantly looks back to God, and sees His fingerprints in her life as a Christian athlete.
As a final encouragement, the Olympian has this to leave us with: “I believe that our talent is God’s gift to us, and what we do with it is our gift to God.
“As a fellow sister-in-Christ, I encourage us to continue to do our best everyday, using our talents to serve the Lord and not ourselves.
“And enjoy this journey because it will not be easy but it will be a fulfilling one!”
- What gifts and talents do you have?
- Practically speaking, how can you use these to serve God?
- What is God’s call for your life? How can you steward and live out this calling practically?