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Teen speed skater discovers God’s love through spiritual, physical brokenness

SASKATOON, Canada (BP)–Eighteen-year-old Kenton Puttick knows a thing or two about painful breaks. In his short life span, the young Canadian has injured his back, knocked his shoulders out of joint and had more shin splints than he cares to remember. But it took a shattered elbow to break Puttick’s spiritual shell and allow him to see how much God loved him.

Puttick is an accomplished speed skater, as well as clarinet player, pianist, vocalist and website master. But the title he’s most proud of is born-again believer. “I definitely put my trust in Christ,” Puttick said. “I’ve been learning lately that through injuries and other things, my life was broken. I had to start again.”

That moment came one year ago when Puttick had finally realized his lifelong dream of qualifying for Canada’s national speed skating team. A few days after he qualified for the national team, Puttick was practicing at a speed skating facility in Saskatoon.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment,” he remembered. “Everything happened so fast.” While racing around the oval track, Puttick slipped and fell. He slammed into the ice and shattered his elbow. “I knew at that very moment my dream was over. It was all over.”

Puttick soon discovered that his dream was far from over. “God showed me how much he loved me and how many people really cared for me. I had become so involved in skating that my relationship with the Lord had been sidelined.

“My entire life was focused on that one goal. I learned not to plan too far ahead where God can’t intervene. Let him be the leader of your life,” Puttick said.

The mishap made a verse of Scripture seem more applicable to his life, Puttick recounted. “First Corinthians 10:12 says if you think you are standing firm, be careful not to fall. I was getting to a place where I thought life couldn’t be better. I felt nothing but safety and security. I was really relying on my own strength. I was comfortable and every time God prodded me to change, to move forward, I said no. But even though I chose to ignore him, God never left me.”

Puttick’s journey with the Lord began as a young boy at Saskatoon’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Canandian province of Saskatchewan. It was in this city of 207,000 people that Puttick learned about speed skating and Jesus.

“I’ve been surrounded by Christianity my entire life,” Puttick said. “I was even going to church before I was born.” Puttick credits his mother and father with his spiritual upbringing. “My parents loved me dearly and the followed God’s Word in raising me. They taught me about Jesus.”

His father teaches the youth Sunday school class at Ebenezer and for some teenagers that would be considered a point of embarrassment — but not for Puttick. “He’s amazing. I really respect my mom and dad’s spiritual walk. He has a heart for people my age. He even acts like a cool guy,” the teen said.

Even though he became a believer at a young age, Puttick waited until he was a teenager before being baptized. “I was at a volleyball camp sponsored by Athletes in Action when a very profound thing happened. I knew that my salvation was secure. It was eternal”

On April 18, 1999, Puttick was baptized and since that day, the Lord has taken him on the journey of a lifetime. “I have a thirst for Christ,” he said.

Puttick satisifies his thirst with Christian music and Christian books. His music library includes such eclectic sounds as Jars of Clay, Skillet, Third Day and worship collections, while he enjoys the latest writings of Phillip Yancey and Joseph Cerzoni.

Puttick is also an accomplished pianist, having studied at Canada’s Royal Conservatory. He most recently played in an alternative Christian youth band called “SMOG” and he currently plays clarinet in the church orchestra. In addition, he compiled a book of praise and worship music for his church youth group.

Puttick’s Internet site, which he created and designed, is geared for both believers and non-believers. “I wanted people to read about my testimony,” he said. “I want them to realize that Christians aren’t do-gooder geeks who can’t have fun. Christianity is a blast.”

Most recently, Puttick has been leading a Bible study for his peers, using Henry Blackaby’s “Fresh Encounter” discipleship materials. “It’s exciting. It’s scary. We have about six or seven people and we all meet at my house.”

As for the future, Puttick said the Lord has brought him back to speed skating. “At one point, I was ready to give up on skating and just get my degree in engineering,” he said. “My dad convinced me to take some time off to think and pray and I did.”

During his self-imposed sabbatical, Puttick received in invitation to train for two weeks in Calgary, the site of Canada’s national speed skating training center. “It was the best two weeks,” he said. “I fell in love with skating again.”

Later this year, Puttick will move to Calgary where he will train for the national team as well as attend university. “I want to take skating as far as I can go,” he said. “It’s really interesting that through my injuries, my life was broken and I had to start again. This decision to go to Calgary came from the brokeness.”

Wherever he may go in life, Puttick said there will always be one constant: his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Puttick’s website can be found at http://members.home.net/kenton.puttick

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes