It was a cold, dark, November evening, and I was charging downhill with my running club, when I drew alongside an older member who exclaimed, Let there be light!” We quickly struck up a conversation about how his dad used to be in the church choir and would often take him to church as a boy, but that he no longer attends. The rest of the conversation is holy ground and not to be divulged, but I share this story because, even while minding my own business, enjoying my run, the Holy Spirit had something more exciting in store. To my shame, I wasn’t looking for an evangelistic opportunity, but God was already on the move – I simply had to keep up! 

At the time, I was a local church leader and most people in my running club knew this. The club gave me a new lease of life and wellbeing, but I also realised that I probably had more opportunities to share my testimony with fellow runners than in my day-to-day ministry as a church leader. Unfortunately, church leadership can become so full of administration that personal evangelism gets squashed out, but the amazing thing is that we just have to show up in these spaces to discover that God is already at work in people’s lives.

It’s humbling to think that God chose to use my sweaty, out of breath, self and His Holy Spirit living within me, as light’ to my fellow runner. The spiritual temperature was changed, even on a cold, dark winter’s evening. 

"I wasn’t looking for an evangelistic opportunity, but God was already on the move – I simply had to keep up!"

Since that winter evening, God has used my passion for sport and mission to call me into a new post within the Church of England’s Evangelism and Discipleship team. In June, I started as National Sport and Wellbeing Project Lead, part of a new project to use sport and wellbeing ministry as a significant evangelistic tool through the development of diocesan strategies. Our vision is to:

  • Engage the church To use sport as a conduit for evangelism and mission, connecting with nearly 50% of England’s population, the vast majority of whom are not in church regularly
  • Reach communities – To build local community that points to the invitation that Jesus offers of abundant life with Him
  • Transform the nation – To improve the health and wellbeing of our nation (body, mind, and soul) witnessing to the more and better life’ 

This ethos comes out of the Message translation of John 10:10: I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

Sport and wellbeing ministries have the potential to reach many people with the good news of Jesus. In the midst of all the pain, uncertainty, and challenges many have faced, and continue to endure, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I sense a new call for the church in this area.

I believe there is a new call for sport and gym chaplains for such a time as this”. (Esther 4:14)

My hunch is that God is asking us to hold our nerve and live out our calling as sent ones’ – to go to the places where the people are, to speak their language, and be Jesus’ witnesses using sport and wellbeing as a key vehicle. This involves showing up, putting our trainers on, and allowing the Holy Spirit to pave the way. 

In Esther 41:4 it says, If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place and you and your relatives will die.”

I think that there is an urgency for us to play our part, making the most of every opportunity to share God’s compassion and love, being his witnesses to the end of the age. And there are huge opportunities for us to do this through sport, fitness, and wellbeing.

"I believe there is a new call for sport and gym chaplains “for such a time as this”. (Esther 4:14)"