Jon A. Shields: Manute Bol’s Radical Christianity

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Manute Bol, who died last week at the age of 47, is one player who never achieved redemption in the eyes of sports journalists. His life embodied an older, Christian conception of redemption that has been badly obscured by its current usage.

Bol, a Christian Sudanese immigrant, believed his life was a gift from God to be used in the service of others. As he put it to Sports Illustrated in 2004: "God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back."

He was not blessed, however, with great athletic gifts. As a center for the Washington Bullets, Bol was more spectacle than superstar. At 7 feet, 7 inches tall and 225 pounds, he was both the tallest and thinnest player in the league. He averaged a mere 2.6 points per game over the course of his career, though he was a successful shot blocker given that he towered over most NBA players.

Bol reportedly gave most of his fortune, estimated at $6 million, to aid Sudanese refugees. As one twitter feed aptly put it: "Most NBA cats go broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building hospitals."

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

5 Comments
Posted June 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. David Wilson wrote:

Manute Bol served on the Board of Directors of Sudan Sunrise, a ministry connected to the Anglican Church through its Executive Director, the Rev. Canon Tom Prichard.  Tom has devoted his life to mission work.  Prior to Sudan Sunrise, Tom served for over twenty years; first as a SAMS missionary in Columbia and then as Executive Director of SAMS. 
In addition to hospitals it was Manute’s goal to build 40 schools in Sudan including one in his hometown.  What a wonderful legacy and a powerful testimony.

June 25, 1:38 pm | [comment link]
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks, David+ (#1), for adding more details to fill out this man’s remarkable testimony.  I’m glad you put in a plug for Sudan Sunrise.

It’s almost as remarkable that the WSJ ran this unabashedly Christian op ed piece.  I particularly liked the way the author contrasted the casual, cheap way that sports journalists typically trivialize the concept of “redemption” with its biblical and historic meaning.

Too bad Manute Bol died at such a young age, only 47.  But may his reward be great in the life to come!

David Handy+

June 25, 2:12 pm | [comment link]
3. KevinBabb wrote:

Funeral services on Tuesday at 10:00 at the National Cathedral.

May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

June 25, 3:56 pm | [comment link]
4. Ad Orientem wrote:

Memory eternal!

June 25, 3:59 pm | [comment link]
5. farstrider+ wrote:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 2:7-9

June 25, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
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