BJ Crombeen shares his story...
"My dad was involved with Hockey Ministries International, and I grew up in a Christian family who went to church and had a strong faith. When I was thirteen or fourteen, we moved to New Market, and I played hockey there for a few years. Then I was drafted by the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League, and I moved off to Barrie when I was sixteen. This was the first time I lived by myself, and I definitely had some years where I wandered away from my faith. I still had the faith background, but I wasn’t living the active faithful life. When I came to the Colts, I was just a young kid trying to fit in and not step on anyone’s toes. When you’re still living at home, you’re not faced with as many challenges – but when you move away as a sixteen-year-old and you’re going to a different school, meeting new people, and playing at a totally different level of hockey, you obviously go through a lot of ups and downs. This is when I started to drift away.
The biggest challenge for me was that I’ve always been a person who likes to be in control – whether it’s in hockey or in life. Many situations were very trying and frustrating for me to go through – everything from how much ice time I was getting, to who I was playing with, to living away from home and trying to deal with all of the different challenges of being on my own at such a young age. I think it was in my second year in Barrie when I was going through those ‘downs’ that I started to see how little control I had of things. I started to realize that something was missing, and I needed faith in my life.
It was through the Hockey Ministries International chapel program that I got reacquainted with my faith, and the biggest realization for me was that I could either beat myself up over every little thing, or I could trust in the Lord and know He has everything in control – and that I could live and work for Him instead of trying to control everything myself. Through the chapel program, I had people to talk to about what I was experiencing, and I also met my girlfriend, now wife, during this time. The chaplain was the pastor of a local church in Barrie, so we started going there. As I was hearing different things and seeing different things about trusting in Jesus Christ, I started to think more about what all of that meant.
Even then, though, I wasn’t a hundred percent committed – it was more of a growth thing and it took me a while to come to the realization that I couldn’t do everything myself and I couldn’t control everything and write my own path. I had to trust in God, work my hardest, and try to do what I could, but just put it in God’s hands. So, once I realized that with a relationship with Jesus, you can trust that He has everything under control, and all you have to do is go out and put your best foot forward – whether it’s your plan or not – I, and my girlfriend, both of us recommitted our lives to the Lord. It’s a daily thing I have to remind myself of, even now, but going through challenges by yourself is a lot more difficult than going through them with the Lord and having faith that He has all of those things under control.”