This week at UCB, the team has been asking our listeners to get in touch and tell us about ‘the hour they first believed’. We want to hear stories of how God has transformed other people’s lives, as we know stories can reach people in a very powerful way.
I have asked Warren Evans, the Chief Executive of Sports Chaplaincy UK to share how he came to faith and what God has been doing in his life and ministry since. If you would like to share your story of how you came to meet and know Jesus, please get in touch through the stories page on our website.
I hope you will be encouraged!
I was born in Manchester. I am one of four boys. In fact, I’m a twin. The doctor delivered my brother and disappeared, but was quickly called back to deliver me (it’s the only time I’ve had five minutes peace and quiet!). It was a shock because my parents weren’t expecting twins. I was always ribbed by my brothers as being the ‘bonus child’. My brother and I were premature, placed in incubators, and not held properly for six weeks. It’s funny how these things impact you; my father said as a child, I didn’t like anyone holding me. Now as an adult, I love to give big ‘Northern’ hugs.
When I was five years old, I remember sitting on my father’s knee (it was Easter of 1975), and he asked me a question which led to me making an initial commitment to Christ. Of course, I wish the Christian walk had remained that simple, but we know it’s a journey. During my late teens and early twenties, my behaviour and lifestyle didn’t always reflect the God I knew. I wouldn’t say I left or went away from God, but I didn’t pursue Him either.
Those years were interesting. I had a relatively successful career, worked hard and played hard. I was doing what most guys did, going to the gym, playing plenty of sport, nights out drinking, and everything else that went with it – nothing different from every other guy my age, but God had other plans.
The best explanation of what happened next was this: you know those extendable dog leads? It felt like God allowed me to have my own way up to a point, but now I sensed Him say ‘That’s enough, it’s time to come back in and stop ignoring me, stop doing the things you know aren’t right – the excessive going out, drinking, girls, and all that stuff.’
Why? Well, I believe that God created us and knows what’s best for us. Through all this I was learning to trust God more, confident He would never let me down.
I was single and decided to do some travelling, and on a trip, I said to God if He wanted me to stay single I would (at the time this was a massive ask). I got to the point where I was willing to let Him have it all.
Turns out, God had a plan! I met a beautiful girl, she asked me for my number, and in the second it took me to reply, it felt like I had had a five-minute conversation with God in which He said ‘If you don’t share Me with her, then who will?’
So, we exchanged numbers. I didn’t have any intentions of marriage but God did. It was clear God was pursuing Juliet, and Juliet was searching for God. In the following months, Juliet fell in love with God and me. We became inseparable (still are!) and we married within the year. We now have three wonderful boys, Jacob (16), Nathan (15), and Alexander (3). Yes, he’s our surprise blessing.
I was privileged to have been raised in a Christian family: my father was a minister on a large council estate. My career had given me the opportunity to travel and gain a good understanding of process and people. We then supported a couple of churches, and eventually I pastored a church.
Whilst there, I was approached by a friend to consider becoming the chaplain to our local professional rugby league club. After much thought and prayer, I started my journey in Sports Chaplaincy, and over the next seven years I had the privilege of serving and overseeing chaplaincy within Rugby League, and then I was asked to become the CEO of Sports Chaplaincy UK (SCUK). Here at SCUK, we believe God has given us a dream to see an expression of his love and compassion in every community called sport.
I love God, I love sport, but really it is all about loving the people. Without being too spiritual, I believe that my whole life has been preparation for this role.
Life continues to be a journey, I love John 3:16 which says: ‘God loves you so much that He sent His only son Jesus Christ to save you, that if you believe in Him you will not perish but have everlasting life.’
It’s a massive promise, and it’s too important for you or me to ignore.
I believe God has a plan and purpose for each one us; we are not an accident, and He wants us to live life and life to the full.
We are called to see with His eyes, bring the best out of each other, declare His goodness, stand up against injustice, and make a difference.
Genesis 50:20 talks about what the enemy meant for harm, God used for good. We serve a gracious, merciful and just God who loves us. My hope is that we can communicate to the local church that the community of sport is a wonderful mission field.
For more information about the work of Sports Chaplaincy, visit sportschaplaincy.org.uk