Mariano Rivera is a staunch supporter of Israel who encourages everyone to come to the Holy Land.
New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera participated in the annual Christians United For Israel (CUFI) summit, held in Washington, D.C., July 8 and 9.
The esteemed inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame was interviewed by the Washington Examiner at the event, where he reaffirmed his faith and strong support of Israel.
He said that he bonded with Israel while taking two trips to the country, one with his family and one with his church and a group of friends, who are rabbis, last summer.
“Every time that I go to Israel, it blows my mind,” he told the Washington Examiner. “I wanted to see more, I wanted to understand more. I wanted to learn more. The Bible comes to life when you’re there.”
Rivera, who is also an ordained pastor, explained that the Bible is replete with references to Israel. “[A]s a Christian, I understand that the chosen people of God is Israel — Jewish Israel. The country was made by Him. All the other countries were made by men. This country was built by Him for His people.”
About his view of Israelis, he said, “They want peace as we do. Love, respect, values as we do — as I do. Values for families as I do. So, they stand for everything that I believe.”
Rivera credits Pastor John Hagee, the head of CUFI, with inspiring a deeper relationship with Israel. “[H]e inspired me even more to be alongside and support Israel, and be there for Israel. Why not? Now I understand the even bigger picture of what Israel means.”
The pitcher was asked if he has received criticism for his strong position towards Israel. He replied that he had not, but that it would not make a difference to his views.
“I know what I stand for: That won’t change,” replied Rivera. “So, to me, criticism is more motivation to keep going forward — to push forward — for what I believe, for what I stand for. And again, that will make me even stronger.”
Come to Israel
“Every time I go there, I just want to go more. I want to be there every day, because that’s how powerful it is to feel the presence of the Lord …To me, it is amazing.”
The interview ended with Rivera urging people to come to Israel. “I deeply, highly, encourage you to go to Israel and visit and see for your own benefit, for your own eyes, then you can judge,” he said.
CUFI is the largest pro-Israel group in the United States.
Speakers at this year’s even included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, and (via satellite) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.