CHRISTIANS and CRICKET
I don’t like cricket, oh no, I love it
As I write this I am in Kigali, Rwanda, on a scoping visit for a regional meeting in 2018. The Consultation we are planning is exploring how to use the influence of sport and faith to motivate and educate young people around the Great Lakes region to build communities of respect, where different groups can peacefully co-exist and flourish. Some of you may be surprised to hear that Christians are passionate about people flourishing and having environments where they live life fully. But that is the message at heart of the gospel.
We are primarily here looking at football but as cricket is my real first love I cannot turn down the chance to spend a short time looking at the way a project here is using this ancient game for good.
‘I don’t like cricket no no, I love it.
Don’t you walk thru my words. You got to show some respect.
Don’t you walk thru my words ‘cause you ain’t heard me out yet’ 10CC
I’ve downloaded some 10CC to get me through the journey and what I find on the hills outside of Kigali does not disappoint. It is everything sport should be. There is laughter and shouting, running and cheering. There is even a choir singing songs of peace and hope on the make-shift side-lines around the red, dusty pitch. In a nation that only just over 20 years ago saw 1 in 10 of its population brutally murdered, there is something surreal about watching children learn how to take guard and bowl overarm, how to try to master the googly whilst learning the finer arts of the drive. The coaches take great delight in translating some of the odd field positions that cricket contains and no-one volunteers for silly mid-on.
These children know little of what has happened in the previous decades but they are being taught through sport to respect one another. To celebrate each ones gifts and abilities, as they learn to love cricket, they also know what it is to love one another whatever ethnic background or religion they belong to.
Some life lessons we could all do with remembering ring through my mind as I meander down the hill.
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
At the heart of the gospel is a call to love the other, to turn the other cheek and to run the race set before us emulating Jesus by caring for the least and the lost. May we spend our lives discovering how to do this and may we know what it is to play the game of life with all that we are and have.
Grace and Peace