These were the words God spoke to me in 2010, after I had been released from my fourth NFL team in two years. I was frustrated, hurt, and disappointed that despite all the obstacles and adversity I overcame in my five years in college, I was finally living my childhood dream of playing in the NFL. I thought I was finally receiving my reward for all the blood, sweat, and tears I put in over the years; but to my dismay, it was being taken away from me yet again. As I took that miserable, sad, long drive from Cincinnati back to Chicago, I took my frustrations out on God. “Why would you do this to me?”, “Did you bring me this far just to break my heart once again?”, “Why do I always get the short end of the stick?”, “Are you going to let my haters win?”, as I cried, I heard the voice of God say “Greater things then this that I have for you to do”. From that point on, although I had no idea where God was going to lead me, I decided to stop pushing for my will, and I surrendered to the Lord. I never put on a football helmet again,
In the years that followed, my life completely changed. God began to open doors/create opportunities for me in areas where I never would have seen myself operating. I went from professional football player, to high school coach, to high school teacher, to youth minister, to establishing Walter Mendenhall Ministries (2013), a ministry that has attracted individuals who are on fire for God but who no longer want to “do church as usual”.
Being on the frontlines on these sometimes cold, and heartless Chicago streets “Chiraq” as some like to call it, I see a generation of people who were yearning for love, acceptance and hope. My prayer was that through my ministry I could not only impart in them a solid spiritual foundation, but also empower them to live life without limits! To seek to be great rather than letting the circumstances of their situation dictate the outcome of their destinies.
I have been blessed to be able to spread the gospel of Christ to various universities, sports teams, churches, high schools, and conventions across this country. In all of my travels I have met some incredible people who have reaffirmed my belief that God is raising a new generation of leaders, those who desire to take the Gospel outside the four walls of the church in a loving, non-traditional and uncompromising way. The world desperately needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. There is no place that I would rather be right now, than leading a group of unorthodox followers of Christ who desire to walk as he walked and be radical as he was radical. I am living my dream. All the blood, sweat and tears have equipped me for such a time as this. Walking in my God given purpose far outweighs any touchdown I ever scored or would have scored playing in the NFL.
For more information on Walter Mendenhall Ministries, please visit www.waltermendenhallministries.org
You can also connect with me via social media
Twitter at @waltmendenhall
Facebook: Walter Mendenhall