By Don Liesemer
The All Star celebrations and hype have come to an end in Columbus. The stars have left town. Their on-ice heroics... soon to be forgotten and brief moments of glory... past. But there is a Star who continues to shine, the Bright Morning Star, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He shone on Saturday morning, January 24, at HMI's annual All Star Breakfast as former NHLers reflected His light and proclaimed His life-changing power. In a crowded ballroom, just the distance of a slap shot from the NHL Fanfare venue and a mere rink wide pass from the NHL's Media Centre, fans were inspired and overwhelmed to witness the passion for God and feel the power and love of Christ. They watched each of God's courageous witnesses take the stand...men who love Jesus deeply and are willing to be counted as "His men in hockey."
At the drop of the first puck, Mike Rupp, former Blue Jacket forward, whose first NHL play-off goal was a Stanley Cup winner, spoke of how he came to know Jesus personally as a junior hockey player while attending a church in Erie Pennsylvania. Mike was followed by Laurie Boschman and Dallas Stars G.M., Jim Nill, who proclaimed their personal faith in Christ. Jim while playing for the Winnipeg Jets had been invited to attend a Christian Hockey Camp as a guest instructor. He talked of the impact of the inspiring young players and went on to tell of the faithful witness of his wife Bekkis during his long road to faith in Christ. Meanwhile Laurie Boschman, a first round Toronto Maple Leaf draft choice, talked of being impacted by the peace that he witnessed in the life of his Maple Leaf teammate , Ron Ellis. Ron invite the young rookie to an HMI chapel. It was there that Maple Leaf forward came to grips with his long sought after answer to the meaning of life and gave his heart to Christ.
Two former NHL All Star goaltenders then took the stage, Chico Resch and John Vanbiesbrouck. After discussing some of the challenges that goaltenders face John spoke of his weekly meetings with his Florida Panthers' chaplain. Each time he was confronted with the same question, "where is Jesus in your life?" Annoyed and angry on the outside, the All Star goaltender divulged to the attentive audience how on the inside he was in turmoil, “I had money, my career was going great, and I had a wonderful wife and family, but I still felt empty.” He went on to relate how at one of the weekly meetings in an IHOP restaurant he opened his heart to Jesus.
Former tough guy Bill Butters with tears streaming down his face brought the program to a close with a stirring testimony and providing an opportunity for anyone to join him in a prayer of invitation. God visited us. His Spirit empowered. The Gospel was preached. Victories were won! Praise God. The light of the Morning Star shines brightly in the hearts and lives of the those who responded and were forever changed.