(JTA) — The usual bio for Mariano Rivera includes retired New York Yankees relief pitcher, all-time saves leader, first player voted unanimously into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 13-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion.
Add that he’s a staunch supporter of Israel.
Rivera, 49, spoke this week at the Christians United for Israel conference in Washington, D.C. CUFI describes itself as the country’s largest pro-Israel group and consists largely of evangelical Christians.
Rivera, who is an ordained pastor himself, became involved with CUFI after meeting the group’s founder and chairman, Pastor John Hagee.
“Every time that I go to Israel, it blows my mind,” Rivera 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.”
According to the Examiner, Rivera has been to Israel twice — once with his family and once with a group from his church and a group of rabbis.
“The Bible speaks about Israel. Everything — from New Testament, Old Testament — it’s all about Israel and the relationship his people have,” Rivera said. “So as a Christian, I understand that the chosen people of God is Israel — Jewish Israel.”