“Professional soccer was my God,” wrote Gavin Peacock in a recent article in the June 2016 edition of Christianity Today. Growing up in a secular home in Southeast London and immersed in the pervasive culture of the game, he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his father, who played for Charlton Athletic from 1962-1978, and taught him the fundamental “art of turning with a soccer ball.” So, imagine his surprise when, decades later, a call from God competely changed the course of his life.
Despite achieving his goal and signing a contract to play professional soccer at the age of sixteen, happiness still eluded him. “I was an insecure young man in the cutthroat world of professional sport,” Gavin said. “My sense of well-being depended entirely on my performance. I soon realized that [it] wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.”
A few years later, however, “God intervened.” He found himself struggling for meaning and attended a local church on a Sunday night. After the service, the pastor invited him to a Bible study for young adults. “I walked into a room full of young people as the one with money, career, and fame,” Gavin wrote in the article. “I was the in crowd, and they were not. Yet when they spoke about Jesus, they displayed a life and joy that I did not have.” Over time, Gavin discovered the same life and joy in the gospel as the young people he had met in that small group and eventually “realized that the biggest obstacle to happiness was that soccer was king instead of Jesus.”
His newfound belief, however, was met with “a mixture of mockery and intrigue” by his teammates. Yet, the biggest test of faith came in 2002, at the age of 35, when soccer no longer remained a viable career because of a chronic knee injury. Subsequently offered a prestigious broadcasting career with the BBC, Gavin began “covering weekly shows . . . for several million UK viewers.” The highlight of his second career was anchoring the 2006 World Cup watched by more than one billion people around the globe.
But God even then had other plans for Gavin, soon calling him to pastoral ministry as a preacher. “Within weeks,” he wrote, “I went from speaking on TV about David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo to writing papers” and studying theology in Alberta, Canada. Today, Gavin is a pastor in Calgary with a heart for the gospel and a passion “to build men for Christ.”
“All those years ago,” Gavin said, “my earthly father taught me the art of turning, but it was my heavenly Father who turned me first to Christ and then to preach his gospel.” Today, he continues “to turn and teach others to turn,” not with a soccer ball, but towards Jesus Christ and his kingdom.
In our Sunday message series each week, we’ve been looking at the logical basis for our belief in Christ and his divinity. One of the greatest pieces of evidence that will convince others, however, is the passion and joy his followers excude. Join us each Sunday to ignite that passion and joy for yourself.
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