May 12th, 2022 Wayde van Niekerk

This week, Heaven to the Yeah grace ambassador, Christian Taylor, had the opportunity to speak with South African Track and Field star, two-time world champion, Rio Olympic champion, and Olympic record holder, Wayde Van Niekerk, as he spoke with excitement to see where the spirit led them in their talk of faith and faith impacts on his journey through life. Currently based in Florida and recently father of three months to a little boy, Van Niekerk shared openly on his faith walk and the blessings God has bestowed upon him over the years.

Van Niekerk’s journey of faith began when he was young. “When I was old enough to start understanding, one of the first books I ever opened was the Bible. It was one of those mini kid Bibles that have pictures and tell the scripture stories.” In these early moments, Van Niekerk was captured by the Lord and His stories and has forever been grateful for God keeping him close. “I was very much an introverted kid, but I could always feel God’s presence with me and gained my strength, courage, and purpose through my gifts from God.” As he grew older and his talents matured, he matured spiritually right along with his gifts and talents, coming to realize that his walk with God was truly a journey rather than a born-again moment in life. There is never a dull moment with the Lord as he will always be on this life journey with you, constantly providing life-changing, impactful, fulfilling moments.

Van Niekerk speaks on faith’s impactful moments in his life as a believer as he links the Lord’s teachings to the loved ones and passions he holds in his life and how these moments and qualities he discovered helped make him into the man he is today. “I was always attracted to those moments and qualities that you can see and feel. I wanted to start instilling these qualities into who I am today whether that be loving, patient, kind. Seeing and using these qualities was when I began getting more attracted to the Bible as I was able to understand the stories on a deeper level and pick out key messages within the scriptures in relation to my life.” Such wholistic qualities fit Van Niekerk in who he was as a person and helped him focus not only on his journey with God, but also the road sports was taking him down. “The transition in sports from high school athlete to college athlete, college to professional, professional to world, can be very lonely and difficult. There are battles that you need to fight each day but learning these attributes have helped me stay true to who I am and not be ashamed of who God has blessed me to be on the track.” Seeing God’s blessings each day also helps Van Niekerk in his journey to compete for something bigger than himself.

Our lives, whether believed or not, will always be a true rendition of faith. In life, there will constantly be something, some passion or purpose, you are fighting towards. Everyone has gifts that help them achieve their goals and passions in life, but it up to the bearer of the gift to make sure it does not go to waste. “God has guided my journey. Every time I enter the track, I speak the words, ‘Father God, let your will be done,’ and He freely takes over this gift I am incredibly grateful to have.” By competing for God and with God, Van Niekerk went from someone who had a dream to now being that person living out his dream with the ability to support his whole family in the process. It is important to stay true and diligent to the seeds you have planted in your life and the strengths they give you while staying young and stouthearted to not lose your faith through God’s gift of Grace.

“God’s Grace is the fact that I can wake up each and every day and continue my dream. Yes, we have setbacks, but they are a part of life before you realize that this is part of life’s journey. Once you accept your journey, you begin to appreciate God’s Grace more.” We all have blessings in our lives for which to be grateful, even in the hard times which seem to have no light. These blessings are God-given, and they show God’s Grace upon you as we all find our foundations of positivity. Even in this shower of Grace, there will still come a time when we may have to balance our sense of humility with a sense of pride.

Van Niekerk shares that when it comes to pride, he has never really given it time in his life. “You need to find the comfort in being you rather than trying to take parts of someone you are not. You can find inspiration in those you admire, but you must stay true to yourself.” Van Niekerk continues in saying that there may be a fine line in pride and in some sense, pride can be a positive and healthy attribute. “Sometimes, it is healthy to have a bit of pride, but it has to be directed in the right way. It must be God-given and spiritually given because then you know where it came from and know it is healthy so long as it is not abused.” In times of pride or humility, times on the track and off the track, we continue to stay human in our passions.

When asked what his passions were, Van Niekerk responded with, “I am a big dreamer. I am constantly looking and finding new things to be interested in, but I am also at that point in time where I know track needs my attention and my time. I need to use my time to the best of my ability.” However, Van Niekerk continued to explain that in his many findings, he began his own company as well as found a love of storytelling. He aims to tell more stories of other African athletes and creating brands for them in the future. To end his day though, he simply loves spending time with family and friends as more things are brought his way.

Before his time speaking with Taylor ended, Van Niekerk was asked to provide some words of encouragement for those watching, listening, or reading. “First and foremost, make sure you put time and effort into that journey with God. It is a unique journey and others can speak with you and help guide you, but in the end, it is just you and God. Secondly, people may look at us [professional athletes] and think we look like superstars, but we are no different than anyone else. You have the same potential, you have your blessings and your gifts, so stay true to who you are and trust the blessings from God.”

The Heaven to the Yeah team thanks Wayde Van Niekerk for sharing his time and story with us. We pray the Lord continues to provide good health upon him and his family.