Whiting: Tennis ace Michael Chang spreads faith

Don’t mistake Grand Slam winner Michael Chang‘s mellow mood a decade after retiring from professional tennis as a champion gone soft.

Still waters run deep and Chang’s are bottomless.

After a season of Tim Tebow‘s football prayers, it’s tough to remember a time when thanking Jesus Christ for a victory didn’t seem routine.

But when Chang did just that after winning the French Open, it shocked the world.

Chang didn’t stop there. That weekend in 1989 also saw the slaughter of hundreds of protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. And Chang spoke to that as well, saying he was grateful that his win gave Chinese people something to smile about.

Given his fierce competitive history and outspokenness, perhaps it’s surprising that Chang is humble when we meet for lunch.

But ask him what it takes be one of the best in the world and look into Chang’s eyes.

There are powerful currents.

• • •

Speaking to an army of reporters, Chang historically said, “I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, because without Him, I am nothing.”

Over a bowl of sushi, I ask the Mission Viejo resident if that sweeping statement still holds.

Without hesitation, Chang confirms his faith is as strong as ever. In some respects, his faith permeates his life.

In 1999, Chang founded the Chang Family Foundation. Along with getting people involved in sports and a commitment to community service, the charity’s core mission is “to introduce the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.”

When a world class athlete such as Chang takes something on, they don’t start small.

But a promise on a website, mchang.com, means nothing. How far can one man really reach?

Chang smiles. He knows how much he travels.

In recent years, the foundation has offered tennis clinics in Taiwan and other parts of Asia.

Consider Chang’s international playing schedule the last few years: Hong Kong, Paris, Toronto, Zurich, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Amsterdam…

Chang also maintains a rigorous schedule of domestic exhibition and tournament matches. During a four–week span between Sept. 22 and Oct. 22, Chang played in Fort Lauderdale, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Arizona, St. Louis and Buffalo.

Now, consider that Chang and his wife, Amber, a two-time NCAA singles champion while at Stanford University, had their first child, Lani, 18 months ago.

Retired? Hardly…. READ MORE