South Africa’s Cricket Captain, Faf Du Plessis: “I am keen to learn more about God everyday”
Francois “Faf” du Plessis (born 13 July 1984) is a South African international cricketer and the current captain of the South African national team across all formats.
A right-handed middle order batsman and part-time leg spin bowler, du Plessis has played South African domestic cricket for Northerns and the Titans, as well as matches for Lancashire, the Chennai Super Kings, the Rising Pune Supergiants and the Melbourne Renegades.
He made his Test debut in November 2012, he became the fourth South African to score a Test century on debut. du Plessis was subsequently also named T20 captain of South Africa for the following Twenty20 series against New Zealand and confirmed full-time skipper in Feb 2013.
Du Plessis took over the Test captaincy in December 2016 and assumed full-time captaincy in all formats of the game in August 2017 after teammate and former captain AB de Villiers relinquished the two limited overs captaincies.
Could you tell us how you came to know God for yourself?
I grew up as a Christian but definitely not a relationship with God Christian, just a religion where I went to Sunday school and it was a very old-school church. When you don’t have a proper relationship with God you don’t really understand it all so that was me until about three years ago. I would say prayers as a habit and read my bible as a habit but without feeling or emotion. What happened was that my wife, before we got married, suggested that we see someone to give us pre-marital advice on what to expect and she recommended someone who was a pastor.
Now obviously, as guys generally do our egos get in the way a bit but I said let’s go and see him. I met with him and he started challenging me directly about my background in Christianity and so I was intrigued, I told him that I was interested in changing my life a little bit and that there are a lot of things I’d like to get rid of. Slowly but surely I saw other things that I wanted to change and we actually worked through a little book called ‘One To One’ which unpacks what it means to surrender your life to God. In working through all that stuff, my heart began to change and I wanted to be obedient, for the first time I was starting to fall in love with God.
It was about putting my needs second and trying to focus on putting God first, somehow he provides and makes sure that you get through. That was a huge turning point for me and my relationship with God. Another turning point was a short time after when I was got a back injury and couldn’t go and play in the IPL, I was really disappointed because the IPL for us is a huge income source. In this two and three-week period which I had to spend at home I went through a heart change, got baptised along with my wife and then I went over to the IPL as a completely different person.
What’s one thing that God has taught you through your cricket?
I am trying to learn more about God every day, trying to be more like him every day and gaining a greater understanding that we do get it wrong all the time, we are only human. I found that my identity was with my cricket. Yes I am a sportsman and I’m used to be having my performances and my destiny in my own hands but you’ve got to surrender that and realise that isn’t why you serve him. It’s a tough lesson in the beginning because you like your destiny to be in your own hands but you realise that how you perform as a cricketer is not the most important thing. It’s just about trying to shine that light where ever you go and affect people.
Your Twitter bio reads ‘Jesus Follower’ before anything else, is this to show that your relationship with God is the most important thing to you?
Yes, I must put him before anything else. I do it to openly say that to the world that God is the most important thing in my life and when I, as we all do, sometimes drift away from God I just flick onto my Twitter or Instagram and I am reminded of that.
I also have a few tattoos; they are almost like the story of my life. I have one on the side of my ribs which reads grace because it is by the grace of God that my life has been changed. Then I have got a quarter sleeve on my arm which has all the important things that has happened in my life, including cricket and my walk with God. The first on the inside of my arm was the day I made my debut for South Africa and above it in Latin it says ‘a day from the Lord’. On the side there’s a compass with the directions of the Adelaide cricket Oval where I made my test debut with two dates in there, one the day I got married and the other is the day that I got baptised. On top of it is written ‘Agape’ which means unconditional love.
So they are just a reminder and a way to publicly say this to people, it’s a way of giving a small testimony of what I am about.