Nate Solder: A heart transformed
SPONSORED — Most people know Nate Solder by his profession, as an offensive tackle for the New York Giants and, before that, for the New England Patriots. In his professional football career, Solder has started in 95 games, been voted captain by his teammates, and been part of two Super Bowl-winning teams.
There’s more to Solder than football, though. After growing up with little spiritual guidance, he developed an interest in religion in college, an interest that was fostered by his strength-training coach.
Even then, Solder said he was focused on himself.
“I was very centered on myself,” Solder said in an interview with Brock Huard on the “Above and Beyond: The Intersection of Faith and Sports” podcast. “I was very centered on my own success and glorifying myself through all these football-related things. Being with the Patriots humbled me, big time.”
He struggled in the early days of his pro football career.
“I had based my self worth on performance,” Solder said. “I was scrambling to find my self worth. I didn’t find it in winning games — I found it in Jesus.”
Solder recalled a spiritual experience when he was playing with the Patriots.
“We were getting ready for the Super Bowl against Philadelphia, and we had a Bible study the night before, like every NFL team does,” he said. “We told about how our journey’s been that season. There was not a dry eye in the room. We were sobbing crying. … It captured how much more important our relationships were, how much more we had learned about Jesus (that season). It was so much more important than that game the next day.”
Solder knew he wanted to follow in Jesus Christ’s footsteps by blessing the lives of others, so he partnered with Compassion International to expand the reach of their child sponsorship program.
“When I met Compassion International, I felt like I had a new sense of purpose. … God’s put me in this position where I can earn a lot of money where it can be shared and spread and do a lot of good,” Solder said. “We went to Uganda and it totally, absolutely floored me. Basically, they’re bringing people out of poverty. They’re creating disciples.”
The Compassion International child sponsorship program connects children in desperate poverty with caring, one-to-one sponsors around the world. Donating just $38 each month, these sponsors help provide medical checkups, nutritious food, health and hygiene training, educational assistance, mentoring, and special services like surgeries and disaster relief. Additionally, each child is introduced to Jesus Christ and encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.
Sponsors receive a photo of their child, along with the child’s story and regular updates. Compassion International encourages sponsors to write letters to and even visit their child.
During his visits to the communities where Compassion serves people, Solder saw first-hand the adversity faced by those children and the difference Compassion is making in their lives. He compared their struggles to playing football, where he faces his opponents on the field.
“They have enemies and obstacles at every turn, but it’s not just a game for them,” Solder said. “Their enemies are hunger, illiteracy, and exploitation, and simple preventable illnesses that come to take their life and hope. They need people like us to team up with Compassion to protect these children and give them an opportunity.”
Compassion is Christ-centered and church-based. There are over 2 million children in its programs in 25 countries, but many more children are in need. For more information on Compassion International or to sponsor a child, visit Compassion.com.