Stories

Never too old to make a difference

Date posted: 06/06/17

Dickie Bird

 

Wicket-keeper, goalkeeper, linesman, club member. Dickie Bird proves that age doesn’t matter when it comes to living out his faith in the world of sport.

“If you’ve still got a love for sport and Christ, just be your normal self and go for it. It’s not about getting up and bashing everybody with a Bible.

“Some weekends, I just go up to the club and behave in a way that honours God – cleaning the dressing room and little bits like that. That may go on for a few weeks and then someone might ask why are you doing that. There’s your opportunity to speak!

“If you are your normal self, then talking about Jesus becomes a normal part of your conversation.”

At 71, Dickie Bird’s mission field remains Alresford Colne Rangers Football Club, whom he joined in 1995 after his son started playing for them. Dickie became a Christian aged 42 as his playing career as a football goalkeeper and cricket wicketkeeper was winding down.

His son’s team needed a linesman and Dickie took up the flag, which he has held ever since. More than 20 years later, he has become a stalwart of the Essex club where he is determined to use his love of sport to share his faith.

Dickie BirdAlthough at first he found it hard to say something of his faith, Dickie (pictured right) realised the importance of simply living out what he believed.

“As you build relationships, people can see there is something a little bit different about you. You can earn their respect and then it gives you an opportunity to speak.

“Even when I go to away matches, I have built relationships with many of the other teams and they know where I’m coming from.”

Dickie added: “Being involved in football all my playing career, and only coming to Christ when my playing days, were over, I was keen, and still am, to give as many youngsters as possible the opportunities that I never had to hear the gospel, so it would have an impact at an early age.”

Sport played a part in Dickie becoming a Christian.

“Playing sport most weekends, Saturday night was ‘wahey, out with the guys’ and Sunday was my day of rest. There was never any thought about going to church to hear the gospel.”

Someone from the local church started coaching youth football and Dickie’s son began playing. This proved the initial spark for him going to church and coming to faith.

Dickie is a member of Kingsland Community Church, Lexden where his roles include sports coaching at their holiday club each summer. He has also hosted sports dinners at his club, run sports quizzes at Colchester United games and is encouraging Colchester churches to get stuck into sports ministry together.

Dickie said: “Being nearer the finishing line than others, I always pray and ask God, do I sign on for another season, or is my work finished? The answer is stay until I come, or I call you home.”

Whatever age we are, Dickie has some great encouragement for us all.

“Just be patient. It takes time. People will get to know you, watch you and see there’s something different. I’m just an ordinary, everyday guy. I’m not academic, but God has given me the one gift that I have, sport, to reach out to people.”

We’d love to hear how you are sharing life and the gospel in the world of sport where God has placed you. Email ed.mezzetti@christiansinsport.org.uk

 


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Ed Mezzetti

Ed Mezzetti, City of York Athletic Club
Ed runs for City of York Athletic Club and is Digital Content Manager for Christians in Sport. He is a member of St Thomas' Church, York