Former NFL Player Mondoe Davis on Giving God Everything and Helping Others ‘Live Life With Purpose on Purpose’
“When I was a kid, I actually wanted to be a professional basketball player,” Mondoe Davis, former Jets linebacker and safety told The Stream’s Nancy Flory recently. “I don’t know why I had the audacity to have that dream, but I did.” His dreams didn’t always work out. But he pushed himself to be the best at sports he could be. And when he met Christ at a Bible study, everything changed.
‘My Dream Was Shattered’
Mondoe always had a basketball with him. But one day, a ring he was wearing caught the rim just as he went to dunk the ball. He lost a finger and his dream. “At 14 years old, my dream was shattered and I thought to myself, ‘How’s this going to be possible to do this?’ I’m not tall enough, I’m not skilled enough in organized basketball, and now I’m missing a finger, you know?” He kept working at it, but he got cut from the team in high school anyway. He could have let disappointment crush him. But he went on.
“I decided I was going to go wrestle and take out my frustration on the mat. And then I wound up becoming a district champion. And then I wound up becoming a junior Olympic all-American in wrestling in just two years.”
‘We’re Getting Saved Today’
As a 16 year old, he and his two best buddies attended a Bible study. He doesn’t remember the sermon or the speaker. “I just remember the altar call at the end and my heart racing and knowing that I needed to go up there. He knew his friends needed Jesus, too. “So, when they gave the altar call, everybody had their heads bowed and their eyes closed … and man, I wrapped my arms around both of their heads. I was like, ‘Guys, guess what? We’re getting saved today.'” He held them tight enough that they couldn’t wrestle away from him, then he went forward. “We all walked forward and gave our lives to the Lord. That was a powerful moment. And to this day, we’re all still best friends.
“When I got saved at 16, I was just so excited about my salvation and what God did for me.” Not long after, Mondoe decided to do everything it took to go to the NFL. But it was a hard go. He came from a losing high school. “We lost every single game our first year. … We went 0 and 10.” The disappointment didn’t stop there. By the third year, his team went 0 and 30.
‘Put the Cheerleaders in’
“We didn’t win one game for three years. It was like torture. I said, ‘Coach, just put the cheerleaders in, man. They can do a better job than us. This is ridiculous.'” By that time, he was ready to quit. “Okay that’s fine,” his mom told him. “You wanna quit? Go ahead in the bathroom, with your little pimpled-face self and I want you to do one thing. I want you to look in the mirror and I want you to ask yourself one question — did you do your very best? And I said, ‘Okay, mom, I’ll do that.'” He knew he had done his best, but decided to give it one more year. The last year he played, the high school finally had 4 wins out of 10.
He wound up getting a duffel bag full of letters from colleges all around the country. “We were a losing school, but I knew I wasn’t a loser. I knew inside ‘I’m a champion.'” Mondo ended up going with a full ride to the University of Delaware.
Giving God Full Control
Even though he was saved, he wasn’t necessarily free from sinning. “I came to the point of reconciliation with my own soul and my own destiny, my own eternity, to recognize that I hadn’t necessarily given God full control over my life. So I had to make a decision.”
At 19, Mondoe told the Lord that he wasn’t going to date because he didn’t want to do anything that would not glorify the Lord. He told Him, “I’m willing to wait for my wife until I graduate from college, because the next relationship that I’m in, I want it to be my wife.”
Mondoe met his wife, Lisa, whom he describes as an “angelic, beautiful, stunning human being,” during the freshman orientation party. But did not date her right away. That first year, he only saw her twice. He remembers praying, “If … God wants it to happen, then it’s going to happen.”
‘You’re Looking at Your Wife’
After he prayed that prayer, they saw each other every day on campus. “After I prayed that prayer, [she] and I started hanging out. I was standing in her doorway one day just talking to her. It was a Saturday morning, you could see the sun kind of shining through the hallway right there. And then the hallway’s quiet. There’s nobody around. And I’m leaning just into the door frame enough where I have no peripheral vision. I can’t see into the hallway. And my buddies knew they couldn’t find me I was probably hanging out with Lisa.
“So I’m talking to her and the next thing you know, I hear, ‘Man, you looking at your wife.’ I’m [thinking], ‘Man, who is that?’ I couldn’t quite recognize the voice, right? And I was like, ‘But it sounds like a friend.’ I’m a little distracted while she’s talking to me. Then I hear it again. ‘You’re looking at your wife.’ I hear it the third time. But it’s more stern. ‘You’re looking at your wife.’ And I look to my left to say, ‘Man, stop playing.’ And there’s no one there.
“This is audible, this wasn’t like, ‘Oh, it was my own [voice].’ It wasn’t my voice. And I knew it was somebody that cared about me and I cared about, but I couldn’t distinguish who it was. He thought that if he shared it with her, she would think he was crazy.
‘Bring Her to Me’
They dated for three years, but broke up just before he graduated. Mondoe went on to play in the NFL with the Jets, but his mind was not far from Lisa. One day, while getting ready to practice, Mondoe heard the Lord tell him that his priorities were out of order. God told him, “I’ve given you a family now. Where is your wife?” He remembered the moment he stood in the doorway and heard someone tell him that Lisa was his wife. “God,” he prayed, “if this is You, and this is not just my imagination, then bring her to me.”
The next Friday, he got a call from a familiar area code. He answered the phone, knowing who it was. It was Lisa. “She’s like, ‘I got something really important I need to talk to you about, and I want you to be very honest with me. God just spoke to me and told me that you’re my husband. I need to know if you bear witness with that, because if you do, I want to go ahead and do this right and get married. If not, I want to move on with my life.”
He told her how God had spoken with him, too. They met the next day for breakfast. “We talked about everything that God had done, the journey He had taken both of us on individually while we were apart. And we got engaged that day. And five months later [we were] married.” They’ve now been married for 17 years and have 10 children.
Ministering to Others
After a few years in three leagues, Mondoe and Lisa attended a conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where an evangelist spoke. Out of a crowd of 5,000 people, he pulled Mondoe aside. “The Lord told me to hire you,” the evangelist told him. After much prayer, Mondoe and Lisa felt peace about working for Dr. Myles Munroe. Now, Mondoe has been in 40 countries around the world, 15 years with the ministry.
What’s next? Mondoe and Lisa have stepped out to start their company, Inspiring Purpose. Through this organization, they provide strategic coaching and consultation to leaders who are in transition, wondering what their next stage is in life. “We help leaders who are in transition asking the question ‘what’s next?’ by helping them win in the next stages of life.”
Mondoe and Lisa are passionate about helping people “live life with purpose on purpose.” For Mondoe, “Getting one to that place of awakening to what’s within and making a decision to dominate with their gifts is true success.” And Lisa? Her passion is “helping women understand they inspire now despite the season they may be going through. Life is about knowing you are worth it, believing your value and taking the next step on your journey.”
Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.