This story appears in FCA Magazine’s January/February 2018.
Appleton, Wisconsin Club Team:
Moose Nordic College:
College of St. Scholastica
• Named to 2017-18 U.S. Biathlon National Men's Team
• Finished third in mass sprint start at U.S. National Championships
• Finished fourth in sprint at U.S. National Championships
• 2014 NCAA All-American
“He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones become living people again?’” – Ezekiel 37:2-3a
While at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, Paul Schommer’s cross-country skiing coach introduced him to the biathlon, a unique sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. In 2015, Schommer began his pursuit of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Relying on his relationship with Christ to sustain him during training and competitions, Schommer hopes to carry his faith to the highest pedestal in the sport.
FCA: How has competing in biathlon reinforced your faith?
PS: The biggest thing I’ve learned is just the faithfulness of God always coming through. Without feeling called and led by God, there would be a good chance I would’ve quit right after I first started the biathlon; I just didn’t really see any success in my future based off the things happening at that time.
I was really struggling to see God’s faithfulness. There’s the financial aspect of it — having to trust God to provide for me. It’s also taught me a lot about how to perform. My identity doesn’t come from my results, and it doesn’t come from affirmation of others, but it comes through my identity in Christ because He’s the one who gives me my meaning.
FCA: How do you express your faith?
PS: I don’t want it to be this conscious thing like, “Oh, I have to say this or do this when this person is watching.” It’s just the way I live my life; my beliefs are shown through my actions every day in how I react to different situations. I don’t want [people to see] I’m a Christian only from my Facebook profile. I want it to be a life lived in a way that it’s like, “There’s something different about him.”
I do some presenting with a few sponsors, and one guy said, “I really loved how you worked your faith into it.” I didn’t deliberately talk about my faith. It’s just part of me. I hopefully don’t have to be conscious of the fact that I want to say something like that, because it’s interwoven into my life.
FCA: How is prayer intertwined with your training?
PS: Prayer is huge, because it’s constantly having that communication with God. It helps me get in the right mindset and gain a good perspective on things. For me, a lot of times I’d see it gets worse when you start praying at God instead of opening up that two-way communication and really listening to Him. The most important prayer for me is just shutting up and listening to God.
God has been one of my biggest coaches. He’s helped me in shooting more than anyone else at times, because He knows everything. If He’s calling me to this, he’s going to help get me to the place I want to be. But that’s not going to happen if I’m constantly trying to do it myself.
FCA: How did your FCA experience in high school help develop your faith?
PS: When I started going to FCA, I really started to see [my faith] wasn’t something that was just supposed to be inside the four walls of the church. It was supposed to go out into the world; it was a lifestyle.
My FCA leader in high school took me under his wing and became my mentor as I grew up. He was the first person I met who I saw really living this thing out. He had this joyful heart and an obedience because he had this revelation at some point in his life where this is worth it.
FCA is where I really started to take hold of the fact that we can be transformed by this gospel in a way that frees us.
FCA Volunteer Quote:
“Paul lives out his life fully trusting and following God’s direction. Whether God places him in some of the quirkiest situations or has him go through many bumps in the road, Paul has remained steadfast in his pursuit of winning lives for Christ. My biggest compliment: the best is yet to come!”
– Bill Murray
Kimberly High School FCA Huddle Advisor
Photos courtesy of Paul Schommer and NordicFocus/U.S. Biathlon.