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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

When Team USA skier Nick Goepper flies down the slopes backward, launches off a ramp, twists into a knot and lands on one ski, he says he is never alone.

“I always wear a cross on my goggles during contests when I’m doing something gnarly,” the 23-year old Indiana native told Beliefnet in 2014. “It’s a reminder that I’ve got someone else helping me out.”

Recently, Goepper needed more help. After taking the bronze medal in the showy slopestyle skiing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, he sunk into a depression, withdrew from family and friends and drank heavily.

He recounted this period in a special X Games video released just before he departed for South Korea.

One night, he called his mother and said, “Mom, I’m thinking about going to get a bottle of vodka and go sit in my car in Lamb’s Canyon and drink the whole thing.”

Lamb’s Canyon, Utah, is where Olympic skier and silver medalist Jeret Peterson killed himself in 2011. Goepper’s parents flew from his native Indiana to his side and, eventually, enrolled him in a recovery program.

Now, Goepper has his eye on the gold at Pyeongchang, a color he captured in three consecutive X Games between 2013 and 2015.

“I got a bronze medal in Sochi and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a little chip on my shoulder and want to better that this time around,” Goepper said at a news conference in Pyeongchang on Sunday (Feb. 11). “Being the only returning medalist from Indiana and representing the Midwest, I would love to bring back another medal for the Hoosiers.”

There are many Christian athletes on the slopes, Goepper said, and that also helps him stay focused and grounded.

“It’s never fun to do it by yourself,” he told Beliefnet. “It’s good to have other people that are on the same path as you. It’s nice to have that in common and be able to converse with them. It’s cool to share that.”

In 2014, Goepper said his favorite Bible verse is, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

“I kind of envision me skiing and God is kind of like an eagle right next to me screeching in my ear that everything is going to be all good,” he said then. “I just try my best and that’s all I can ask for.”

Goepper’s competition begins Feb. 18.


Courtesy: Religion News Service

Photo: Nick Goepper makes a jump during a run in the men's ski slopestyle final to win the bronze medal at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, on Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

Photo courtesy: AP/Sergei Grits

Publication date: February 16, 2018

Team USA freestyle skier David Wise has one foot in the snow, and the other in church.

He and his wife, Alexandra, lead the youth group at their church in Reno, Nev., where Wise grew up. He’s needed her and his church family on the road to the Pyeongchang Olympics: It’s been a rocky one, offset by triumphs on the slopes.

Wise is a halfpipe specialist who took the gold in the freeski halfpipe event at the 2014 Sochi Games and at the 2018 X Games. That makes him a favorite for Pyeongchang.

But with the glory came intense physical and emotional pain.

In addition to two injuries and three concussions, his sister lost a leg in a boating accident, his father-in-law died, his wife suffered serious postpartum depression and his son had a health crisis he almost didn’t survive.

His skiing, he wrote on his blog before leaving for Pyeongchang, suffered, and some of his sponsors abandoned him.

“I’ve certainly had some people dancing on my contest career’s supposed grave and celebrating my downfall,” he wrote. “Never the less, I’ve also experienced unconditional love and support from a select few that made all the weapons of my enemies turn to ash.”

Instead, he writes, he has turned the proverbial other cheek, transforming adversity and personal slights into opportunity and exercises in strength.

“I am thankful for the buildup of all the tragedy that prepared me for what was to come — and taught me how to consider all things as an opportunity for great joy,” he writes.

Among the things that bring him joy, he writes, is his wife, who he calls “a true proverbs 31 woman,” a reference to the “wife of noble character” the biblical King Lemuel describes:

“She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value. … Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Alexandra Wise and their two children will be in Pyeongchang watching when Wise competes in the freestyle halfpipe qualifier on Feb. 19 and, they hope, in the final on Feb. 21.

That, Wise, writes, is his real treasure.

“I also know that all of this is temporary, and that is ok,” the penultimate pre-Olympic post on his blog says.

“Everything that I have is a gift from God, and He can take it away when He wants to. I am surrounded by people who truly love and support me for who I am, not what I do on a pair of skis and not for any level of success I could attain.”


Courtesy: Religion News Service

Photo: U.S. Olympic Winter Games halfpipe skier David Wise poses for a portrait at the 2017 Team USA Media Summit on Sept. 26, 2017, in Park City, Utah.

Photo courtesy: AP/Rick Bowmer

Publication date: February 16, 2018

A potential school shooter was arrested this week after his grandmother notified police of his suspicious activity. reports that Joshua O’Connor’s grandmother notified law enforcement after she saw disturbing entries in O’Connor’s journal detailing how he planned to shoot students at ACES High School in Everett, Washington.

O’Connor reportedly wrote that he wanted to carry out a school shooting that would be “infamous” and would cause the “biggest fatality number I possibly can.”

The 18-year-old O’Connor had also written that he had been "reviewing many mass shootings/bombings (and attempted bombings) I'm learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes."

O’Connor’s situation raises the question of how much potential shooters are influenced by the actions of other shooters. His grandmother's 911 call also came just one day before the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

O’Connor was also found to have an AK-47 and military-type grenades hidden at his home. He was arrested at school where police found him in possession of a knife and marijuana.

Mukilteo School District spokesman Andy Muntz commended the grandmother for taking action and said this should encourage anyone who sees something suspicious not to hesitate to report it.

“It really speaks to the [importance] of if you see something or hear something to notify authorities," Muntz said. "That's what she did. It could well have saved many, many lives, including her grandson's life."  


Photo courtesy: ©

Publication date: February 16, 2018