Danielle du Toit knew a lot about Christianity. She knew the accounts in Scripture. She knew who Jesus was. She knew all the church stuff.
But one day, she realized she had no relationship with Christ.
“The high school year in South Africa ends in December, so I had a few months before coming to America,” said du Toit, a senior golfer for Purdue University. “I was successful at sports and God was kind of ‘there,’ but not a big deal.”
She visited church after the invitation by a friend. But it wasn’t until one random day during a worship service – she doesn’t even remember what the message was about – that it all came together. Nothing she could do on her own could get her to Heaven. Christ died for her sins. It all hinged on desiring to have a relationship with Him and growing deeper in her faith.
As a freshman at Purdue University, du Toit observed a flyer on the door of the team’s workout room that displayed both an opportunity and a connection to her home country.
“I was looking at the pictures and thought they looked very familiar,” she said. “I saw children in the picture and it was obviously a picture of Africa. I also saw one kid wearing a Springboks jersey, which is South Africa’s national rugby team.”
The announcement, she learned, was about the upcoming mission trip to South Africa undertaken by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I was like, ‘Whoa. Christian athletes? They’re going to South Africa? I have to check this out,’” she remembered.
So, du Toit discovered when and where Purdue’s FCA met, and she walked into an FCA meeting by herself. There, she met Marty Dittmar, Purdue’s Athletic Chaplain and FCA Campus Director. Dittmar immediately identified du Toit’s accent, as it’s what he had heard while leading the mission trip to South Africa for 12 years. The two began talking, and over the course of their conversation, du Toit learned that the orphanage they planned to visit was about 30 minutes from her house.
Du Toit got involved with FCA, and she began sharing her testimony. It’s about overcoming obstacles and continuing to grow in Christ. Her childhood consisted of emotional abuse from her father, who at one point was a theology student but eventually embraced atheism. Sports was her salvation, in a sense, because it brought approval.
Although she stayed involved by attending the FCA Huddle, other Bible studies at Purdue and a local church, at times, du Toit continued to struggle with her identity in Christ. She developed the yips on the golf course and couldn’t make a one-foot putt. The pressure of trying to succeed for the sake of others nearly drove her to take her own life.
“But the Lord stopped my hand,” she said. “COVID-19 happened, and I went home and dug into the Scriptures. I realized my greatest sin was I thought this life was about me. I am a child of God, and I am called to do everything to the glory of our Father in Heaven.”
Her skill on the golf course wasn’t meant for the mirror, but to point to Jesus.
“That gave me the greatest peace I have ever felt,” she said.
“Danielle’s love for Christ is genuine,” said Dittmar. “She has been a really good testimony for handling trials in her life. She’s not ashamed of the Gospel, and she is willing to share it whenever God gives her the opportunity.”
FCA has become a place of growth, but even more, it’s become a family.
“God is truly sovereign,” she said. “FCA keeps me accountable and grounded. FCA has been a lot to me, and a family away from home.”
Learn more about Purdue FCA and find a way to get involved near you!
Photos courtesy of Purdue University Athletics and Danielle du Toit