Rower Katrina Bass has been encouraged and built up in faith by being part of the Christians in Sport University Group at Durham. In this blog, she urges other students to get involved where they are.
I have had the privilege of leading the University Group in Durham for the last year and just want to give you a few reasons why you should join an existing one or start one in your university.
Being a Christian sportsperson has its own unique highs and lows. Whether it’s the travelling to matches, socials with questionable themes, the stupidly early mornings (rowers!), being benched for a big match or just balancing church, a social life and your academics; being a Christian in these situations matters. The University Group will connect you with other Christians doing the same and equip you to live for Jesus in your sport.
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Before I went to Durham I’d never thought about how Jesus and my love of sport could possibly match up.
Sure, I’d had a couple of chats with girls at the boat club at home, but not with any real intention or follow up.
I certainly wasn’t praying for them or thinking about how or if the way I trained and competed mattered in sharing the gospel.
When I came to university, my sport stepped up a level. I spent two weeks in the university boat club pre-season before deciding to row for college and trial for Senate boat which took the best college rowers from across Durham to BUCS.
I was in about six sessions a week, frequently travelling to Newcastle to train, often missing church and midweek Bible studies and wondering how it was all going to work when I started going to the University Group.
Katrina Bass in Durham University rowing action
There, in someone’s living room over a bowl of porridge, I met people who just got it. There, I was challenged to live for Jesus wholeheartedly whenever I was in a sports context; to train and compete in a way that honours God, to pray faithfully for my teammates and to intentionally talk to them about Jesus.
Not only that, but here was a safe space to share the challenges of being a Christian sportsperson dealing with competition, pain, socials and exhaustion amongst other things. I stopped keeping Jesus at arms’ length and invited him into the biggest part of my life.
Hebrews 12 v 1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV) For me this was the vision to pray, play, say in Durham.
The group set up varies so much between universities, but variation is great! Practice gospel conversations, get stuck into the Bible, share real examples and struggles, walk around your university sports grounds to pray and then take all you learn outside into the real sports world.
You might be the only chance your teammates get to hear about Jesus so “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. (1 Peter 3 v 15, NIV).
Katrina Bass, Durham University