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Faith in Action: Dan Hamhuis

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Dan Hamhuis in Haiti.
Dan Hamhuis in Haiti.

Dan Hamhuis’ job is playing defence for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. But in February, he’ll be taking up a second job as he joins the 2014 Canadian Olympic hockey team at the Sochi games. Childview spoke with the British Columbia native last year about his faith and his family, and visiting Haiti after its 2010 earthquake.


Could you describe growing up.
I grew up in a Christian family, going to church and attending a Christian school. My parents instilled some really solid values in me from an early age, which really helped me in tough times spiritually.

Describe a “tough time.”
In junior hockey, there were a lot of temptations that could have put my career off track. My upbringing helped me make some better decisions at that time.

How did your faith change when you joined the NHL?
I think in my first year as a pro, my faith started to mean more. It was a huge year of growth for me spiritually, when it became a big part of my life. I think it has influenced my hockey career a lot, too. It’s allowed me to have a better perspective on things, knowing that my life is not defined by winning and losing hockey games. Whether I play good or bad doesn’t define who I am. I’m able to stay level-headed and not go through the ups and downs. I mean, I still do go through those, but maybe not as extreme. My faith has played a role in that for sure.

Are your teammates accepting of your Christianity?
I’ve been pretty lucky to play on teams that have been very accepting. In the first couple of years that I played in the NHL, the older guys were strong Christians and part of a chapel program. Every team I’ve played on has always had chapel programs. I’ve never been given a hard time—I think a lot of it has to do with how you live your life. If you’re professing to be a Christian and you’re going to church but you live an entirely different way, then I think people will see your Christianity as fake and not meaning much. But when you try your best to live how you profess, then people really respect that and maybe are drawn to it.

When you joined the Vancouver Canucks, was there a chapel program?
When I first got here, there wasn’t. But we were able to set up a really great program here. Our chapel leader comes in once every week or two. He leads about four or five of us through a passage in the Bible. We talk about how it can apply to our lives. We do so much work trying to get better hockey-wise, watching video and practising. But it’s nice to have time to spend on the spiritual part of yourself, too—trying to grow your faith in a busy hockey season.

Do you pray to win?
I’ll pray for the right mindset going into the game—to do the best I can. If I do that, the numbers and the results just take care of themselves.

Could you talk about the faith in your family.
My family is a huge part of my faith. Jesus gives us so many teaching points on how to be a good husband or be a good wife; how to be a good dad, be a good mom. And so we’ve taken those and are continuing to learn how to love as Jesus loved. It’s certainly not easy, but that’s what we strive for.

When did you first get involved with World Vision?
I’ve always had an interest in going to developing countries to help. The opportunity came up a few years ago after the earthquake in Haiti. The NHLPA [National Hockey League Players’ Association] had raised a bunch of funds to rebuild the children’s hospital in Port-au-Prince and they were looking for a couple of players to go down and be part of the media announcement and visit the area to bring awareness to these issues. The NHLPA’s offer interested me. I discussed it with my wife and thought it was a great opportunity.

What do you remember about visiting Haiti?
It was much different than what we’re used to here in Canada. Many people were living in tents. Their whole lives and all their possessions were in those tents. It was pretty shocking to see. But the people didn’t seem sorry for themselves. They carried themselves with pride. It was pretty inspiring.

Would you like to visit other developing countries?
I would like to take my family the next time. Our five-year-old is getting to that age now where she could be a pen pal with a sponsored child. Eventually, we could get all three of our kids exchanging letters. And I think it would be a great thing one day to be able to go and visit the community to meet the children they would have been writing letters to. It would help open their minds to a bigger world, as opposed to the very comfortable life that we live here in Canada.

INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.

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This article was published on February 5, 2014.

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