SPORTS: Daytona winner is an outspoken Christian

DAYTONA, Fla. (BP)--Twenty-year-old Trevor Bayne -- an outspoken Christian who often uses social media like Twitter to talk about his faith -- became the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500 Feb. 20 at the Daytona International Speedway.

Bayne testified about the Lord in his post-race interviews.

"We said a prayer before," Bayne said in one interview. "We pray a lot, and we expect a lot of things, but this just shows how powerful God is."

In another interview with ESPN, Bayne talked about using his winnings to help support friends working on the mission field, and specifically mentioned his desire to donate to an organization called Back2Back Ministries that does mission work in Mexico.

"I can't even describe it," Bayne said about his victory. "This is our first time ever coming here, so to win in our first time, I feel a little undeserving."

A native Tennessean, Bayne attends Fairview Baptist Church in Corryton, Tenn., outside Knoxville when he's home visiting his family.

"Trevor's a great young man," said Wayne Davis, associate pastor at Fairview. "He tries to live his faith. You noticed he was talking about how this was something that God worked out for him, and he truly believes that."

A Baptist Press Sports story in October by Lee Warren featured Bayne, and addressed the ways he witnesses to those around him.

"We all push ourselves," Bayne said in the story. "The biggest fear for a Christian is to be lukewarm, and we've learned how to get out of our shell. One example is, before every race I got to the point where the guys [on my race team] wanted me to say a prayer with them.

"The outreach needs to happen here so much because this community -- from the outside looking in -- people think it's a Christian southern sport, but on the inside it's really not," he continued. "So there's a lot of outreach to be done here. And to have a brotherhood -- we call ourselves modern day disciples -- we try to help each other and encourage each other and if it were just me, I probably wouldn't have the strength to go out and outreach to these guys [in the garage], but when you've got four other drivers thinking the same thing you are, and encouraging it, then it makes it a lot easier."

Bayne also uses social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to talk about the Lord. In October, he had about 4,000 followers on Twitter. Now, after his historic victory in Daytona, he has almost 24,000.

After the race, Bayne wrote on Twitter, "Sayyy what! I'm blown away at how amazing God's plan is! 500 winner :) can't believe it!"

In recent days, he has also posted, "Until we realize that Christ is our only satisfaction, we will continually be lusting for more of something that will never satisfy!" and "Feelin like it was a pretty successful day even though we didn't get the result! So thankful for the platform God is using me on!"

"I get the chance every day to update my status and tell them whatever I want to tell them -- what I'm experiencing that day and how God's helping me and I've got a lot of response from that," Bayne said in Baptist Press Sports about his social media efforts. "That motivates me every day to know that He's given me those people with their eyes on me to be able to outreach to them."


Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports (www.bpnews.net), the sports service of Baptist Press. Ellsworth also is director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.