“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
John Lord Tobias started cheerleading in 2012 as an all-star member and cheer music producer for Lyceum Sharksquad and United South Cheer Allstars, Laguna. He enjoyed the team connection and gave him a creative and athletic outlet.
It was during his senior high school cheer when FCA Philippines director Jojo Villa visited the team and shared about making God part of their every day. Tobias, who attended church once a week but didn’t really apply the teaching, was surprised to hear Villa talk so personally about faith. For Tobias, it wasn’t normal to talk about God and he was hesitant when Villa handed him a pamphlet for Greenhills Christian Fellowship Youth Live Camp.
Tobias attended, and found the experience grabbed his heart.“Camp was wonderful,” he admitted, “it was there that I decided to follow Christ. It was life changing.”
Villa continued to walk with Tobias and his teammates as they learned how to apply their faith in God to cheer.
“It was really hard to be an athlete.” Tobias shared about the pressures of competition while dealing with the daily struggles as a teenager. “But with God,” he added, “it was easier.”
In 2014, he was offered a scholarship to the University of Makati and became part of the Herons cheerleading team. In 2019, Tobias was chosen to be the head coach to fill an emergency gap left by the previous coach.
This opportunity opened off another hesitation where Tobias never considered coaching.
“I was producing and working in the church and using my creative talents,” he said. “But Coach Jojo had told us he had prayed for us and that the team would have a Christian coach.”
God has a better plan.”
- John Lord Tobias
Thrust into a leadership position, Tobias adjusted to leading the team he was a part of just a few years earlier. One of the first things he did as coach was coin the team tagline: Win every battle, to God be the glory. All together.
The battle cry, based off Romans 8:31, formed to create camaraderie and a unified message through the team.
It was an adjustment to learn how to apply techniques and skills he knew as an athlete to communicate from a teaching standpoint, but Tobias found a flow and soon also became a sounding board for his athletes to come to him for answers to questions they had about life and faith.
“We became spiritually stronger with the extra time we would take at practices to talk about God and attend church together on the weekends,” he shared. “We have a Huddle on Friday nights, and part of my program now is inspirational.”
The past year has been difficult with the pandemic, but Tobias has leaned on God’s presence and wisdom to connect with and lead his team through their struggles.
“I’ve been there and through what many on the team have gone through and struggled with,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Whatever happens, it is already written in God’s book. Whatever happens, God has a better plan.’”
Tobias talks to his athletes with honesty and encouragement. He wants them to personally know the peace Jesus has given to him, and to lean on the Bible as a source of comfort.
“I do not worry anymore about what's going happen in the future for I know that He has better plans for me,” Tobias said. “He’s been my refuge and has made me a stronger person as a student, an athlete, and now as a coach.”
Villa continues to walk with Tobias as he coaches, still offering encouragement and equipping him to live out the coaching purpose God has given to him.
Now, there is no hesitation in Tobias when it comes to faith and sports.
“God changed my life,” he said. “I’m really happy to be an instrument of God to the team. We need to physically, emotionally and spiritually have God at the center.”
Pray for ministry in the Philippines, that God would continue to raise up leaders to impact coaches and athletes for Christ and make disciples.
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