Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis announced his retirement from NFL via Instagram yesterday, informing his followers that, “with much prayer and deliberation”, he will be devoting the rest of his life to the “advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. Willis has spoken about his Christian faith before during interviews and speeches – what religion is he, and has Khari said which church he belongs to?
What religion is Khari Willis?
Former Colts safety Khari Willis is a Christian – his announcement yesterday, that he is pursuing a life of ministry, included that he planned to advance “the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.
Here is his statement in full:
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News of Khari’s retirement has made it to various Christian media outlets, one of which – Premier Christian News – invites readers to “pray for this issue”, and even offers a template.
Black Christian News describes Khari Willis’ decision to retire from the NFL after three seasons, and to pursue a life of religious ministry, as “unique”.
But what do we know about which Christian denomination Willis belongs to, and what shape his life of ministry will take?
Khari Willis has never said which church he’s part of
No, but he did attend a Catholic high school – Lumen Christi in Jackson, Michigan. This suggests, though by no means confirms, Khari Willis belongs to the Catholic church.
In his keynote address at the Jackson College Martin Luther King Jr dinner at Victor Cuiss Fieldhouse in January 2020, he spoke about the challenges he and his partner faced regarding the health of their two newborns, and how his church community supported them through it.
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“During this time,” he said, “I had to be a man of principles and not let my emotions get the best of me.”
And during hard times, JTV reported at the time, Willis and his girlfriend received help “from his family and church members”.
His Christian faith is a ‘personal journey’
Sports Illustrated published an article about Khari Willis’ relationship with religion and faith in 2018.
“My faith to me is a personal journey,” Willis told the outlet. “Along this road of faith I’ve had a lot of ups and, truthfully, I’ve had some downs as well. But it’s something that, if I stick to (it), I’ll become better and better and better at what I’m doing.”
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He continued: “Faith to me is important. Believing in something you can’t see, especially in this dark world, sometimes it’s a hard thing to do. But I feel my faith is something that keeps me grounded and keeps me honed in on who I am.”
Senior running back LJ Scott spoke generously of Khari Willis: “He’s all about God and, growing up, I used to go to church but I kind of got away from it. I ran into Khari and he put that back into my head and it’s like, ‘Man bro, I’m so happy I met you.’ He’s a great inspiration, he’s a great leader – anything you need, he’ll be right there.”
Khari’s decision to leave the NFL to pursue a life of ministry has been met with support from fans, fellow players, and head coach Frank Reich.