Playing God’s Game: Marnus Labuschagne

Just by walking onto the cricket pitch, Marnus Labuschagne is sharing his faith. The 23-year-old, who plays for Queensland as well as the Brisbane Heat, always has Bible verses written on his shoes.

And on the bottom of his bat, the number 40:31, a reference to his favourite verse from Isaiah. ‘But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’

It’s an appropriate verse for a sportsman to carry with him. When he caught up with Vision’s Matt and Alex, they asked him about balancing his faith and his passion for cricket. Though he’s faced some challenges along the way, he sees God’s hand opening doors for him all the time, and giving him surprising opportunities to spread the Word.

Born in South Africa, Marnus moved to Australia at age 10. It was actually his mother, ‘a good Christian lady’, who inspired him to have verses printed on his shoes, to reflect the way we walk in the blessings we’re given.

Marnus was raised in the church, and he says he’s always had a very strong relationship with God. As a young boy, he remembers lying in bed unable to get to sleep until he’d prayed. ‘I think that continued relationship with Christ over the years has just gotten stronger and stronger. I can’t really remember a time where I didn’t believe in God.’

Matt asked Marnus whether he prays to win a match, or just to play well. He admits that there are times when he prays for both, especially when victory feels just within reach. ‘But mainly just that I could perform at my best, and that all the glory will go to Him, for whatever happens in the day, win or lose.’

Marnus says that playing elite cricket as a Christian can be challenging. He especially struggled with the cultural expectation of sex before marriage. ‘The environment you’re surrounded with isn’t really ideal at times,’ he said, ‘and you tend to be away from home a lot.’

But he’s also had plenty of positive experiences. ‘Over the years, since I’ve been part of the squad, there’s been some amazing growth inside Queensland cricket with Christianity, and just how people perceive it. I think people sometimes think Christianity is too religion-based, and not relationship-based.’

More recently, that perception has been beginning to change, and God has given Marnus some great opportunities to contribute to that. ‘On my debut for the Brisbane Heat, Joe Burns was our captain for that day. He thought a cool way to involve me in the game that day was to say a team prayer before we went out to field.’

If cricket’s everything and anything, then you’re putting that ahead of God, and I don’t think that’s as a Christian where I want to be, and where we should be.

Though there are no longer chaplains in Queensland cricket, Marnus gets support and inspiration from like-minded Christian cricketers. ‘We’ve got a WhatsApp group called Front Foot Faith, and we’ve probably got about 20 or 30 professional cricketers around the world.’

Along with fellow Queenslanders Peter George and James Bazley, and even some players from the West Indies, Marnus also gets to talk to some of his heroes from South Africa, like Vernon Philander and Temba Bavuma. ‘We’re really growing on that front,’ he said, ‘and it’s really cool to try and connect with other Christians around the cricket world.’

Matt asked Marnus if he hoped to play for Australia one day. ‘I think that’s every kid’s dream,’ he said. ‘If that’s not your dream, I don’t really know why you’re playing first class cricket.’

But he knows that ambition can be dangerous if it gets in the way of what’s really important. The friends he grew up with in his church really helped him hold onto his convictions in the face of peer pressure and tough competition. ‘When I was younger, I found that was the key for me: to have a strong friendship group outside of cricket.’

It’s easy to put all your time and effort into something you’re passionate about, especially something as difficult and demanding as sport. But at the end of the day, if cricket’s gone, and you haven’t built relationships with people outside of cricket, it’s going to be a really tough time.’

It’s also important to him that cricket doesn’t become the centre of his life. ‘If cricket’s everything and anything, then you’re putting that ahead of God, and I don’t think that’s as a Christian where I want to be, and where we should be.’

The Bible verses on his shoes and cricket bat show that Marnus Labuschagne is committed to walking with the Lord. He understands that his talent is a blessing, and his relationship with God should always come first. With that kind of attitude, we think he’ll go a long way.

Listen to the interview below

 

About the author

Jonathan Craig

MORE GREAT READS FROM

Becca Bradley on Being Happily Unmarried

Listen to the audio interview below https://getmediapoint.com/document/episode/podcast/MDAwMTQ3MzcwNi5tcDM.mp3   In Church these days, young single women are facing massive pressure to find a partner. But in a recent Facebook post, 27-year-old singer Becca Bradley wrote: ‘I’m waiting until I find a man who loves me as much as my dog does. And she loves me a…

The Boys Who Sang a Christian Anthem at a Rugby Match

‘Oh come to the altar; the father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.’ Not the words you’d imagine being shouted by a bunch of teenage boys during the half-time break at a rugby match. But at last year’s grand final between long-time rivals St Joseph’s Nudgee College…

Be the Change

LICY BE Licy Be released her new single Be the Change on Suicide Prevention Day last year. Inspired by her own struggle, it’s a powerful message about the importance of reaching out to people who are in pain. She told Alex about the people who reached out to her, and the miraculous ways God changed…

How the Machine Gun Preacher got His Name

Most people would say God and guns don’t go well together. That’s certainly how Sam Childers felt. When a newspaper headline first called him the Machine Gun Preacher, he started to cry. Sam has never been what you’d expect from a missionary. A former biker, he struggled with addiction for many years. But soon after…

Why is There Suffering?

It’s one of the most common questions non-Christians ask us. People often say that suffering is the reason why they don’t believe in God. The argument goes ‘if God’s so great, why does he let bad things happen to good people’? Even Christians sometimes struggle to understand the answer to this. So Alex recently asked…

Every Little Thing

When Hillsong Young & Free started making music in Sydney back in 2012, Melodie Wagner had no idea their music would take them all over the world. She’s been with the group since the start, and the last six years have flown by for her. ‘The beginning stages were so raw and fun,’ she told…

Curt Anderson Wants to Keep Falling

Curt Anderson grew up in the small town of Ithaca, Michigan, dreaming of a music career. He’s just wrapped up a tour of Australia for his new album, so his dream definitely came true. But in his new hit single, Keep Me Falling, Curt reminds himself not to lose perspective on that dream. In the…

Brave

They’ve been around for more than two decades, but Skillet are still rocking as hard as they did when they burst onto the scene. Frontman John Cooper caught up with Alex recently to confirm some trivia about the band, as well as tell the story of a traumatic experience which shaped his life and his faith….

Pursuing God’s Best

With more than 59,000 likes, the Facebook page Pursuing God’s Best has really taken off since Morgan Clegg created it three years ago. Alex caught up with Morgan to hear some of her story, and find out what inspired her to spread the simple message—that we should wait for God’s best in everything. Morgan says…

Learning to Imitate Jesus

How Many New Years Do You Have Left? is a YouTube video coming from a small ministry making a big impact—The Normal Christian Life. It’s based out of Brisbane’s Glory City church. This ministry was born from the idea that we should all imitate Jesus—and its YouTube videos are taking that message worldwide. The guy…

Recent Articles

3 Things to Remember About the Cross After Easter

During the Good Friday service, our pastor gets up and quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… ‘Although there are many ways that God shows His love towards us,’ he tells the congregation, ‘tonight is a time for us to reflect on the Way He loved us.’ What…

Becca Bradley on Being Happily Unmarried

Listen to the audio interview below https://getmediapoint.com/document/episode/podcast/MDAwMTQ3MzcwNi5tcDM.mp3   In Church these days, young single women are facing massive pressure to find a partner. But in a recent Facebook post, 27-year-old singer Becca Bradley wrote: ‘I’m waiting until I find a man who loves me as much as my dog does. And she loves me a…

The Boys Who Sang a Christian Anthem at a Rugby Match

‘Oh come to the altar; the father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.’ Not the words you’d imagine being shouted by a bunch of teenage boys during the half-time break at a rugby match. But at last year’s grand final between long-time rivals St Joseph’s Nudgee College…

Be the Change

LICY BE Licy Be released her new single Be the Change on Suicide Prevention Day last year. Inspired by her own struggle, it’s a powerful message about the importance of reaching out to people who are in pain. She told Alex about the people who reached out to her, and the miraculous ways God changed…

Donate to vision

Over 80% of our income is from the freewill gifts of wonderful people just like you.
So thank you for helping. Your generous support is 'Connecting Faith to Life'.