the st helen's rugby team celebrate after being crowned Champions of the European Super League

The day I landed the ‘best job in the world!’

In Articles, Direction Articles, Sport by Jamie Wreford1 Comment

Paul Johnson has found real insight in his dream role

I became a Christian in 1983 following a children’s mission in my primary school, organised by the local Anglican church. They told us that going to church didn’t make us Christians.

My older brother was part of the local Elim church at St Helens and unknown to us, had asked his home group to pray for our family to become Christians. After talking to him about it, I became a follower of Jesus at the age of seven.

Within the next year, Mum and Dad became Christians at an Eric Delve mission in St Helens. The prayers of my brother’s home group were answered.

Along with my parents, I enjoyed connecting with the Elim Church in St Helens, where my brother Darren later became part of the leadership team. After joining their youth group, I really grew in my faith and over time became senior youth leader.

Paul Johnson pictured in front of the st helen's badge on a wall

Being a supporter of St Helen’s RFC meant Paul Johnson didn’t have a difficult decision to make when asked to become club chaplain

In the summer of 2002, a small group of us including Rachel, who I later married, moved across to Warrington to plant another Elim church called King’s Church. We’ve been there ever since! My brother Darren and his wife Jacky are the senior leaders there and many of our wider family are actively involved. Rachel and I are the missional community leaders and founders of the church’s Worship Academy.

In 2012, I was working for two Anglican churches, helping them to think in a more missional way when I was approached by a friend, Rev Gaz Tracey. He was chaplain for St Helens RFC and was moving to a different part of the country. He asked if I would consider becoming a part-time chaplain there. That very day my full-time job as chaplain and learning mentor at our local college became part-time because of redundancy, so God’s timing was perfect.

I was also brought up on the same road as St Helens Rugby League stadium and had been a supporter for as long as I could remember, so it took about two seconds to think about it! After accepting the position, I became a member of Sports Chaplaincy UK as it provides professional accountability for sports chaplains.

Sports Chaplaincy UK was launched in 1991 (originally called Score) under the leadership of Rev John Buyers. He was a Baptist minister who became chaplain of Watford Football Club and later, Manchester United. Former Watford Manager, Graham Taylor, put an advert in the local newspaper to ask how the community could support the football club. John offered to provide chaplaincy and a friendship began, which continued until Graham passed away.

This article was taken from the February 2020 issue of Direction Magazine.

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