There and back again. A story of faith and football in Aberdeen
There and back again. A story of faith and football in Aberdeen

At 2am, in a Glasgow nightclub, Dougie was out with his university football team when he asked Campbell, his teammate, whether he could go to church with him on Sunday. This is where his story begins…

Faith found through football

Growing up in a Christian home, Dougie had the opportunity to play Rugby as a youngster, but that door was firmly closed as it clashed with Church. University offered him the chance to do things his own way and he loved it.

There were several Christians in the football club, all committed players, but one in particular – a guy called Campbell – would always come out with the team. One night, past two in the morning, Dougie asked if he could go to church with Campbell on Sunday, thinking it must be pretty cool if he’s there every week – the reply came:

“it’s just me, my brother, and a friend! The rest of them are quite old. To be honest it’s not about just church, it’s all about Jesus and what He’s done for us.”

He went on to explain the gospel, in front of all the football boys in the night club! The next day he called Dougie inviting him to an Alpha course. Dougie simply went out of loyalty to his friend but his journey to faith more or less started there, it was a few months before he committed his life to Christ, but, surrounded by people who persevered with him, he grew quickly. This is what we love to hear at Christians in Sport. We exist to support sportspeople like Campbell as they boldly share their faith, and new Christians like Dougie, who found faith through the witness of others in sport.

Making the connection

Not long after Dougie started attending church, he became involved with Christians in Sport, attending Sports Plus that summer as a Trainee . “I’d never experienced anything like it” he reflects:

“People were serious about their sport, but they also loved Jesus and were genuinely excited about teaching the Bible.”

At church people got alongside him, helping him to understand what living a life obedient to Christ looks like, both in sport and more generally.

Transitioning from being a university player to graduating and taking on other commitments was a testing time. At university it felt easy to share faith with friends because Dougie was alongside them all the time, but now it was a different challenge. Yet, over the last 10 years, Dougie remained committed to sport:

“I’ve really valued the training, vision, and direction I’ve had from Christians in Sport, it’s really helped me as I’ve tried persevere in my world of sport with a missional mindset.”

Don’t lose heart

Dougie’s journey to faith through sport, and continued commitment to reach the world sport for Christ is a brilliant example of how God uses sport, and sportspeople, to change lives. Dougie has now been coaching boys’ football for five years, and is a Pastor at Deeside Christian Fellowship Church, naturally the conversation with other parents and coaches at the football club often turns to work, leading to brilliant opportunity for Dougie to share Jesus with them. Three years ago, Dougie was asked to be the club chaplain at Cove Rangers Football Club, opportunities to speak of the gospel don’t come up every day in that environment but it’s a privilege for him to live as a Christian amongst the players and staff.

Dougie reflects on his experience:

“This year we’ve held an evangelistic dinner in February with Gavin Peacock speaking to 280 guests! All the parents I invited from the football club responded really well to it. We had a sports quiz organised for March, but it was almost the opposite response, numbers were low. So, it’s been a mixed bag. Alongside events we’ve seen sport play a vital role in long term community mission. Recently seven young men were baptised in our church. They weren’t from church backgrounds but came regularly to our youth fellowship, playing football and hearing the gospel proclaimed faithfully.”

Looking ahead, a new Local Network will be launching in September - looking to reach sportspeople in Aberdeen with the good news of Jesus. Seeing these stories of encouragement shows that the long slog is worth it despite the setbacks.

“Gospel ministry is often slow and hard, but the Bible encourages us not to lose heart. Looking back and seeing how others persevered with me as I came to faith helps me to keep going, trusting that God will continue to do the same in the lives of others.”

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