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Posted date: 19 Aug 2015

THEIR CHURCH, THEIR CHANCE TO BE ACCEPTED

A football fan tells how God is at work in and around the club he supports.

Football clubs are a great mission field. At the very heart of UK sporting life and culture. Macho in the extreme, resistant to reasonable change and full of lovely ordinary people. Nowhere have I seen the natural instinct for people to worship more in evidence and to sell themselves short. Sometimes they'll sing for eg. 'I am City til I die' I can't bring myself to join in with that one cos I get too emotional. I look around me and see those people searching and I wanna say – “Ok, but what after you die hey?”

Football crowds are always bringing Jesus & God into their language. It starts during the game and carries on in the bar afterwards. It often, however, can lead to great chats about God and the meaning of Life and as a Christian, you can always say, “Well you brought the subject of Jesus up during the match, mate.”

My own club, Gosport Borough FC is a total Blessing from the Lord. It has the following moto on its badge for a start! 'God's Port Our Haven' - beautiful hey? It is a growing part of my community, just 5 mins walk from my house. I've been praying for it for nearly five years now as I love the people, the banter, the hour & a half escape when Saturday finally comes round again. The Club Treasurer is a Christian, also the Manager's wife - you couldn't get more influential than that hey?? Oh, and this might just be coincidence, but in the last five years our home crowds have more than doubled to 550 souls on a Sat, on average. New Years Day against our arch rivals we had over a 1,000. Maybe it's because we have had two promotions, an FA Trophy Final appearance at Wembley against a fully pro-club Cambridge Utd in front of nearly 20,000 and last season in the FA Cup proper, our first FA Cup 1st Round tie v Colchester Utd which was televised (all in the last 4 seasons). We're used to being the 'unheard of underdog' in most cases but the Lord is smiling on us.

Christians who meet and pray at 'Amen Corner', an adopted part of the ground with picnic tables have been praying, not that we would win, through any bending of the natural laws of physics or anything. We pray against injury, that the players will enjoy their football and express themselves and that there will be harmony in the camp - and with these things answered on a daily basis - of course they keep prospering and winning and often punching above their weight! I cannot tell you just how many chances we have had to spread the Gospel. I also started an unofficial fan club on the terraces called TheBoroBarmies. This is a small band of people like me who like to chant/sing and clap, play drums/trumpet and jump up and down with joyful abandon when we score or our defence holds strong.

Of course it's raw. Football culture is gritty like the British nation. But there's sooo much humour and fun to be had and with a quick wit and The Lord's help Christian fans can pray for these fans, distract away from the F’ing and Geffing way and even sometimes diffuse verbal or occasionally physical assaults on refs or fans or each other when things can get a bit over-heated, where maybe youngsters have drunk a bit too much or sane people kind of get that 'road rage' effect.

Hopefully I exude passion about Jesus and my poor family (wife & 2 teens) as much as I do about Boro. I have seen fans with club banners with 'One Love' printed next to their Beloved club badge. This is their church, their chance to be accepted, to feel part of something and of course to worship. The returns can be good but even alongside the other blessings of life like family etc it is pitiful compared to the amazing riches, foundations and eternal life that Jesus is offering them all, for free. I'm a Christian in a Spiritual Battle til I Die!!
I think the Rawfaith CVM initiative is the one of the best outreach vehicles I've come across for a long time and I think it will enable many blokes to hear and see for themselves what Jesus has done for them and what He is doing now in 21st century UK.

Geoff Powel, Gosport Borough FC fan
Read about Rawfaith here.



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