Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ALEC MILLEN: "FROM THE NFL FIELD TO THE MISSION FIELD: The Testimony of a former New York Jet & San Francisco 49er"

MP3 Available Here

Alec Millen was raised in the Roman Catholic faith in Atlanta GA. He went to parochial elementary school and Marist (Society of Mary) High. Most of his energy up through high school was spent in the sports arena. He is the middle of three brothers, who all went on to play collegiate sports, so it was a pretty competitive family. The Millen brothers have two very committed and loving parents, who have given their all to see their sons and now their sons' families succeed in the direction they have chosen.

Alec went to the University of North Carolina after high school and started as an offensive lineman as a redshirt freshman, but transferred to the University of Georgia after two consecutive losing seasons at UNC. He had to sit out a season because of the transfer, but made a name for himself as a “brawler” on the practice field (he actually had a couple newspaper articles written about him during the 1990 season). He received lots of positive press, and he was slated to be a starter and team leader for his final two seasons at UGA. However, though he didn’t realize it, he was empty on the inside. He was still a regular attendee at the local Catholic church, but his religion only seemed to consist of one hour Sunday morning. He sought fulfillment in his life (though he wouldn’t have defined it that way at the time) through sports, parties, dating, friends, whatever.

At this time, unbeknownst to Alec, a teammate (Dan) began to pray for him. He was one of the few Christians on the team, and he was part of Campus Crusades athletic ministry, Athletes in Action. Dan was challenged by the team chaplain (an AIA staff member) to make a list of people that he thought were “least likely” to ever be saved, and then begin to pray for them. Alec was #1 on that list (though he only found that out years later)! Dan prayed for Alec for over a year without Alec knowing it. During that year, Dan witnessed to Alec about Jesus, but Alec rejected what he said. Dan continued to pray and live an authentic Christian life. Over the next months, more and more people began to talk to Alec about Jesus – something that was very foreign to him.

Finally, in May of 1991, Alec was asked to go to a mid-week church service (Baptist revival meeting, actually) and he heard a man share his testimony of the life he had in Christ. His story was so compelling, and Alec had never heard anyone talk about Jesus in such personal terms. Alec was broken – all his successes in sports, or in his relationships seemed so meaningless. His prayer that night was, “God, if I can know you like this man knows you, I will do anything.” He realized then that this is all that he had ever really wanted. God saved him that night, and began the long process of transforming him into the image of his Son.

Before Alec's senior season at UGA, he attended an AIA camp in Fort Collins, Colorado, and that week challenged him to bring Jesus into the violent sport of football. It wasn’t enough to pray before the game and then thank God after the game. Jesus wanted to be with him during every snap, every timeout. This perspective transformed his game as well as my practicing. He could no longer “dog it” or take a play off. Every moment was a witnessing opportunity. Every play was a chance to use his talent to glorify God. This is a perspective that has helped him in life since football too.

At the end of Alec's senior year, he was selected team captain, he believes largely in part due to his Christian testimony. He had only been around for three years, only played for two, but was chosen by his teammates for this position. He tried to share the love of Christ with them, and they saw that people’s rejection of him didn’t weaken his faith but deepened his resolve to love them and pray for them.

After that season, Alec was drafted in the 7th round by the New York Jets. This was a dream come true. He had wanted to play in the NFL since he was in 4th grade. He appreciated the chance. But, about 3 weeks after he was drafted, he was in church in Athens, Georgia, and he heard a missionary speak. What Alec remembers most from her talk was that “there are people in Africa that are dying and will spend eternity in hell, not because they have rejected the message of Jesus, but because no body has ever told them about Jesus.” Alec sat their astounded. This Jesus who had been transforming his life by His love, who had saved him from hell, wasn’t even known about in certain places. Alec sat there, and he knew that God was calling him to be a missionary. He left the church that day and decided to go and tell his parents that he wasn’t going to play in the NFL, but was going to be a missionary. This was a hard conversation, as you can imagine. But they knew that his mind was made up.

God released Alec to play in the NFL, but showed him that the plan for his life was the mission field. He likens it to Abraham’s sacrifice of that which was most precious to him. Once God saw where Abraham’s love and allegiance was, he stopped the sacrifice.

Alec went to play on the Jets, and was put on their developmental squad. That meant that he had his Sundays free, and that is how he found his church in New York, North Shore Baptist Church in Bayside, Queens. The pastor of that church, Ed Moore, had played football at the University of Georgia a decade before Alec had. So, he visited the church, and fell in love with the ministry there. It was there that Alec really learned doctrine, and grew in his love for the Lord.

Alec only spent one season with the Jets before he went to the San Francisco 49ers. After one offseason with them, he blew out his right shoulder and that ended his career.

Alec then went to seminary for three years, then he took a job back in New York City at North Shore Baptist. First as youth pastor and then as a church planter in Richmond Hill (near Brooklyn). All the while, the elders of the church knew that he felt “called” to missions, and so after 3 ½ years, they laid hands on him and his wife Tammy and and sent them out as their missionaries.

Alec and Tammy served for 7 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators , helping to get the Scriptures into the languages of southern Sudan from 2004-2006. It is their passion to see that everyone has an opportunity to hear the Word of God in their heart language.

In June, Alec and Tammy joined another mission, Missionary Ventures International , because they sensed that God was leading them to work more in evangelism and church planting, alongside a Bible translation project. They are planning to move to Tanzania and work among an unreached people group in that country. Their approach will be through Chronological Bible Storying and through community development. Their hope is that as people come to faith in Jesus, and that they will begin to desire to read God’s Word in their own language – all the while the translation is going on so that they have the Scriptures available. According to Alec, literacy is still a great need. Please pray for the Millens as they faithfully labor for the furtherance of the Kingdom of Christ.

You can contact Alec and Tammy Millen at

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