Vonetta Flowers, Living on Faith

 

As Vonetta Flowers crossed the finish line in victory at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, she was not bashful about sharing the secret to her success. “My goal was to make the Summer Olympics. God had a different plan for me.” From a woman who describes herself as “reserved, ” Vonetta Flowers has a very powerful, succinct way of giving credit where credit is due. “God has blessed my family. I give Him the glory and honor.”  Johnny Flowers adds, “It may not always be the ‘in thing' to talk about God but we're not ashamed of him..   He got us to this point. Besides, Vonetta is not strong enough to push that 450 pound sled and make it go that fast. Standing at the finish line I knew that it was the prayers of a lot of church members and other people praying for us that allowed the team to do what they did.”

 

The victory arrived after Vonetta overcame many obstacles in her path. Since the age of nine, she dreamed of winning an Olympic Gold Medal as a track star. Injuries kept her from achieving her goal, but led her down a new path to competing in bobsledding. However, that dream looked as though it would be dashed too, when just a few months before the Winter Games she was cut from the U.S. Bobsled team. Vonetta says her faith in Christ kept her from giving up her dream. “Faith pulled me through. I still had a goal and I was going to keep trying. It was as though He was telling me, ‘Your day is coming'”. Vonetta also relied on husband Johnny's reminders. “He would repeatedly tell me, ‘God has put you in this sport for a reason'”. Vonetta continued to train as though she was still on the team. Two weeks later, she had not one, but two offers to return. “I began to realize maybe God does have me in this sport for a reason. Every time a door would close another door would open. I really began to develop a peace about it.”

 

It is a peace Flowers admits she did not have as she trained as a young track star.  Christ was not in her life. Her focus was completely on athleticism. However, while in college on a track scholarship, Vonetta met her future husband Johnny and her faith in Christ began to grow. By the time of the Winter Olympics, Vonetta Flowers had a completely different outlook on competition. “As it says in II Timothy 1:7, ‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.' ” Vonetta says at the Games she specifically drew upon the message her pastor, Michael Moore,  preached about "Winning the War Against Fear". “I was living on faith not fear during the Olympics. I was able to relax, have a good time and focus on what I had to do.” It is this same faith that Vonetta says she and Johnny continue to rely upon as they embrace their new role as parents of twin sons. “Motherhood increased my faith even more. Johnny and I spent a lot of time in prayer for our sons prior to their birth. Prayer gave me peace.” The babies arrived premature but healthy. Today, Jaden Michael and Jorden Maddox Flowers remain close by the side of mom and dad as Johnny coaches and Vonetta trains for the next Olympics!

 

-Laurie Stroud


 
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