4 Christians named to Time magazine’s ‘100 Next’ list for 2023

Written by on October 17, 2023

Four individuals with strong Christian faiths were featured in Time Magazine’s “100 Next” list for 2023, including the co-pastor of a megachurch, an NFL athlete, a NASA astronaut and a baseball star.

Time Magazine’s “100 Next” launched in 2019 to recognize the “rising leaders in health, climate, business, sports, the arts and more.”

Time is known for its “Time 100” list that draws “attention to those who have achieved peak influence in their fields.” But with “100 Next,” the news outlet seeks to not only reflect the present but spotlight the future.

The following pages highlight four followers of Christ who were selected for Time’s “100 Next” list.

Sarah Jakes Roberts

Jakes Roberts, the daughter of famous pastor T.D. Jakes, was honored for being the pastor of ONE, a Potter’s House church in Los Angeles, alongside her pastor husband, Touré Roberts. She is recognized for her success as a faith-centered businesswoman, writer, speaker and media personality.

Roberts and her husband are also the assistant pastors of Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, spearheaded by her pastor father.

Jakes Roberts, 35, is known by many for her uplifting sermons.

In one 2022 sermon, she told an audience, “You’ve got to believe there is more.”

“The issue that most of us have is that we’re in these circumstances, we’re in our lives, we’re in our communities, we’re in our relationships, and we have given up on the belief that there is something more connected to the moment we are standing in,” Roberts preached in the sermon titled “Getting More Out of Life.”

“You’ve got to believe that there’s more. Some of us do believe that there’s more; we just think that ‘the more’ is assigned to other people. That for us, we could just sit down and live in this trapped space because being trapped is better than failing at more,” she continued.

“I hear God saying that if you are ever going to discover ‘the more’ that God placed in you, then you’re going to have to believe that there is more. You’re going to have to begin to pull levers that you would have never pulled, have relationships that you would have never had … you’re going to have conversations and communication that you would have never had before because you believe that there is more.”

In a tribute published by Time, filmmaker Tyler Perry shared some positive sentiments about Jakes Roberts and the impact she’s had on women through her pastoral leadership and ministerial work hosting conferences.

“Her lived experience using the grace of prayer to find a way through personal pain and tragedy resonates deeply with so many,” Perry wrote.

“It’s what has allowed her to connect with millions of other women through her incredible ministry and Woman Evolve conference. As Proverbs 22:6 says, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ This is all in Sarah’s DNA.”

Jalen Hurts

Also included on the list is the 25-year-old Hurts, who led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl last year after being drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft from the University of Oklahoma. Time describes hurts as a “phenom.”

After sitting for most of his rookie season, he took over as the team’s starter near the end of the 2020 season. He led the Eagles to an 8-7 record in 2021, then a 14-1 record and a Super Bowl birth in the 2022 season. The Eagles were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. If not for an injury late in the season, Hurts could have won the 2022 NFL MVP Award.

Hurts has been open about his Christian faith throughout his career. His Instagram bio reads, “In God I Trust.”

Hurts told Sports Spectrum in an interview video ahead of Super Bowl LVII that everyone goes through difficult times. In those challenging circumstances, he said, relying on faith is critical.

“That’s something that I kind of came through in college. A Scripture that I lean on heavily is John 13:7, ‘you may not know now, but later you’ll understand,'” he said, paraphrasing the verse.

Along with faith comes hard work, Hurts detailed, adding that he acknowledges his faith by “me being me.”

“Me being who God called me to be. I truly try to focus on the things that I can control, not the things that I can’t. So, control the things you can, put the work in, never lose faith in what you believe in, and it usually works out,” Hurts said.

NFL quarterback great Peyton Manning, who played in the NFL for 18 seasons, wrote in a tribute that he has admired Hurts ever since the younger quarterback served as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, a summer football camp for high school players.

“I strongly respect his willingness to learn. He’s always thinking about getting better. For example, he will sometimes text me questions about plays that his team can run in the red zone,” Manning wrote.

“Though I sometimes have to remind him I haven’t played in seven years (I have to dig into some old archives to remember plays), I’ve so enjoyed these conversations. Jalen is a natural leader who cares about his job and the organization that he plays for. The Eagles signed Jalen to a record-­breaking contract extension this offseason, and he feels that accountability and responsibility to make them glad they made that investment. He’s not celebrating. He doesn’t see it as a reward. He sees it for what it is: the Eagles are paying him for what they expect him to do now. He’s a model of how to approach a job. This is where the hard work begins.”

Ronald Acuña Jr. 

Acuña, 25, an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves and a four-time All-Star, became the first player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in one season on his path to likely securing the 2023 National League MVP Award.

Acuña was born in Venezuela and often shares how relying on his faith is a fundamental part of his life.

“He is a young player, and I foresee him having more than one 40-40 season,” fellow Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera, a fellow Venezuelan who is destined to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, wrote of Acuna.

“I hope God keeps him healthy so he can reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. You know, I don’t want to be the lone Venezuelan on that list.”

Cabrera believes that Acuña has the chance to become “the best Venezuelan-born baseball player ever.”

Despite his on-the-field success, the most important thing to Acuña is his faith.

“The most important thing is to never lose your faith,” he told Sports Spectrum in a 2018 interview. “Just because your faith is what helps maintain you, especially during the tough times that happen on the field and off the field.”

“Every time I take the field or even when I wake up, I have a conversation with God,” he added. “I feel like I always pray to Him and have that relationship and I feel like He listens.”

Victor Glover Jr.

Another Christian who made the 2023 list is Glover, part of the Artemis II crew. The group of astronauts is scheduled to circle the moon starting in November 2024 and sail back to Earth in the next year. The mission will be piloted by Glover.

Glover is an ex-fighter pilot who witnessed the action of the Iraq War. He is recognized for having carried a Bible and communion cups along with him to the International Space Station.

The Artemis II mission will include Glover and fellow NASA astronauts Christina Hammock Koch, Reid Wiseman and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen. The mission will be a 10-day flight test of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

“Glover will be the first person of color to make a lunar journey, and the significance of that is not lost on him,” Time noted.

Glover is a member of the Churches of Christ in the Houston area and was profiled in The Christian Chronicle in 2020 when the astronaut was training for a six-month mission to the International Space Station.

“I want to use the abilities that God has given me to do my job well and support my crewmates and mission and NASA,” he told The Chronicle in 2020. “That’s really the thing I think the most about.”

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