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Pitchside pastoral care

Several years after leaving Oak Hill, Tony Ford is now Vicar of St Mary's, Balderstone, and chaplain to Oldham Rugby League Football Club. In the tight-knit world of rugby league, Tony has plenty of opportunities to share the gospel, as well as being a very real pastoral support to the Oldham players. Says Tony...

The very first time I spoke to the lads, they came off the pitch and my introduction was, "I'm here for when bad stuff happens."

And hands went up and they told me, "It's happened today." Garry Purdham, one of the people who died in the west Cumbria shootings, was a mate of theirs.

And then came the questions: "Why is there so much evil in the world?"

It was one of those situations where you explain how this is a fallen world, and that Jesus came to correct that, through his death and resurrection, and how it's not always going to be like this.

That's the kind of community I'm working with here. Sitting on the coach with the lads and having the banter and so on, and them saying, "What the b--- hell's all this about, this Jesus thing?"

You can share on the coach in a very natural way – it's just a joy, the opportunities for opening things up to the gospel.
  Also see  
  Daf Meirion-Jones  
  Daf Meirion-Jones and Martyn Ayers work in a parish with council housing, university halls and three mosques.  
  Peter Sanlon  
  Peter Sanlon lectures at Oak Hill but also ministers in Tottenham, north London. He talks about the task of bringing the gospel to diverse people and situations.