Jonathan Horton Swings for the Gold
Gold medal winning gymnast Jonathan Horton talks to Beliefnet about staying active, pursuing your dreams, and how to pray.
BY: Chad Bonham
Tell me about your faith journey.
I grew up in a Baptist church here in Houston. I always had God in my life. I always believed in God and had faith in God, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I took my own faith to another level. As a kid, you do it because your parents make you do it. It’s just part of your weekly routine. But it wasn’t until I was challenged with the things outside of my family, you know, the worldly temptations, when my faith really grew. I had to turn to Him. As my training got more difficult and as I was trying to balance school and what my friends wanted me to do with gymnastics, I had to turn to God. My faith grew tremendously. Now that I’m married, my wife and I can work together and push each other in our growth with the Lord. My gymnastics has gotten better. My faith has gotten stronger. God is number one in my life and He’s the reason that I have the success that I’ve had.
What was the spiritual catalyst for your growth in college?
It was a couple of my teammates. My best man from my wedding is one of my best friends in the world. His name is Jacob Messina. We were freshman together. We lived together all the way through college. We shared the same beliefs. Our faith was really strong. We challenged each other. A lot of our friends would go to the bars and party. It was tempting. We’re human beings. Every now and then we’d fall short, but we would challenge each other. We’d remind each other that this wasn’t what God wanted us to do. Before knew it, probably about the end of my sophomore year, we decided to start a Bible study. We invited a bunch of guys from our gymnastics team. There was a lot of accountability for each other. Once we got more people involved, it just helped us grow. We had six or seven guys that would come over to the house. Jacob played the drums. Another one of my friends played guitar and we would worship. My faith became so much stronger once I was on my own.
Are you hopeful that God will use you to be a witness in London and wherever else this path might take you?
That’s always been my prayer. I pray every night, whether its just through my team or somehow if he uses me on a bigger scale, is that he takes the platform that he’s given me and uses me, speaks through me—not only through my words but through my actions as an athlete. The Olympics is the biggest thing for gymnastics. I just pray for opportunities and I know He’ll speak to me and show me those opportunities where I’ll be able to show my faith. I go to Dr. Ed Young’s church down here and he preached about, “When is it right to hide your faith and when is it right to show your faith?” He told us that when you feel like hiding it, you need to show it, and when you feel like you’re being prideful and you want to show it, hide it. That really hit me hard. It would be really easy when you’re on live TV and the whole world is watching you to want to hide your faith. You want to avoid the persecution that the world is going to give you for it. But it’s in that moment when I really need to show it. That’s when I need to use my platform as a gymnast to show what the Lord has done for me.
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