Recently I had the honour of standing with these guys. Have a listen to them first and then read how I became an honorary Fijian for a few days.
Over a few days in July 2013 it was my privilege to be involved with the Rugby League Festival of World Cups. What you might say was a rugby union man doing being involved in a league tournament? I had the honour of being invited to be a chaplain to the various Police teams playing in the tournament. Making contact with the team liaison made it possible for me to be alongside the Fijian Police Rugby League team as they trained and played matches at the grounds of Featherstone Rovers, Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos. During those few days I was also able to speak to a number of the GB Police Rugby League lads, many of who work in my own county of West Yorkshire - good on you.
To be alongside both teams when they played against each other and against the Aussies was a fascinating insight into the teams, the highs of being selected and competing and the lows of missing out on selection and sadly the impact of serious injury on players, the squad and their watching families. It was an honour to be there and be involved.
I was impressed with the way that all of the teams approached the tournament and I know from talking with the teams, coaches and players that some of the lads may be returning to the UK later in 2013 for the full Rugby League World Cup. Thanks must go to the sponsors, the Rugby League, their home an host Police Federations, to the players and their respective forces for releasing them to compete. For the Fijians they would want me to add, for sure, thanks to God - for as men of strength, courage, commitment, skill, speed and agility as all players in all of the squads were - many were also men of faith. At the close of every training session and at the end of the games; win, draw of loss, the Fijians create a huddle on the pitch and unaccompanied, sing their thanks to God. You can click on the link above and below to hear some their songs.
It is my belief that when the voices of men are raised, not in anger or threat, but in unity of purpose, in faith, in serving the community as all of the squads do in their day jobs - then the impact on those around them is evident - drawing people in to engage with them, drawing people in to join with them and stand with them, drawing people in to listen and respond to what is being said.
Many men have raised voices today - some in anger, some in protest, some in pain, some in desperation. Others feel they have no voice or cannot be heard and need others to raise a voice for them. The man's man Jesus Christ once said this; "if I am lifted up, I will draw men to me" - he was referring to the cross - lifted up to die as a substitute for all men. He was speaking of the honour of being given a place in the lives of men - through relationship being lifted past a remote impersonal entity, to an ever present friend, brother, supporter, coach, guide, leader and mentor.
When men come together to lift up Jesus Christ through their lives - other men are drawn to the reality that they both hear and see.What are our voices saying today? What sound are our lives giving off to those around us?
Enjoy these few clips and lets determine to lift our voices together and lift up and honour the cause of the man's man Jesus Christ - for the sake of others.