Jumping over barriers

A MESSAGE from Jeremy Rensford, chair, Shepparton Ministers’ Association.

WHAT brilliant viewing did the recent Olympic coverage make! As a long time basketball player and fan, I was pumped to see the Aussie men finally win a medal, and then straight after this see Nicola McDermott jump as high as any Boomer in winning the silver in the women’s high jump.

Interestingly, she was very quick to thank Jesus and mention some very powerful memories from her difficult teenage years – “I was always an outcast and I got welcomed into a faith community that loved me”, “I thought of myself as a misfit” and “I remember encountering God’s love and it changed me.”

It’s sad to see the unnecessary and unfair reaction from a minority to her online. In a time that should be reserved for Australians rejoicing, keyboard warriors have turned on her as a result of open proclamation of faith: “What the hell has faith got to do with sport?” and “An atheist won gold, why didn’t Jesus give you gold? and “Don’t share your beliefs”.

Despite the bad taste of these (there were many more; by the way what happened to the tolerance that we value as a society), they provoke some great questions:
– Is faith in Jesus just so we can have everything go our way, kind of like a Santa Claus in the sky that grants our every wish?
– Where is God when life is tough?
– Do we need to keep our beliefs silent?

What I’ve come to know of this God they question is that He welcomes questioning (is not insecure), He is there for those that are going through the worst of human experiences (Nicola’s personal experience epitomises this), God doesn’t guarantee a life without problems, but rather that He will be with us in and through the problems and that Christians beliefs should not be banned from public.

As this column shows, Christian beliefs are worthy of discussion, debate and consideration in the public arena – a very practical faith as Nicola so fluently showed this week! As I observed a young lady at peace with herself (finally) and at peace with God, despite her being an athletic superstar her story is totally relatable to the common person, a person that struggled with who they were until they came to personally know their creator. Maybe her story could become yours!
May you jump over the barriers in front of you too in these most difficult of times.

BELIEFS… Jeremy Rensford, chair of the Shepparton Ministers’ Association. Photo: Steve Hutcheson