Sports chaplain and FCA leader Steve Jones invests much of his time in the All Ability Sport world. All Ability sport is the inclusion of all people with disabilities and encourages its coaches and athletes to participate at recreational, competitive and elite levels.
Jones, who invests much of his time in his home country of Wales, became a chaplain for the Ospreys Wheelchair Rugby team seven years ago and developed friendships with players while becoming better acquainted with the challenges they face in competition and training. He continued to delve into the All Ability world while sharing God’s truth during team time.
In 2018, Jones went to Australia as part of the chaplaincy team at the Commonwealth Games. While wandering around the Athletes Village, a couple approached Jones about the Ospreys' wheelchair rugby backpack he wore. The woman turned out to be the president of the Paralympic Committee of Kenya who invited Jones for coffee to discuss wheelchair rugby and how to start the sport. She also turned out to be a Christian, and Jones sensed a divine appointment.
Jones followed up with a visit to Kenya to meet the basketball club and learned that many of the players wanted to play rugby because of its more physical nature. There were also quite a few Christians on the team, and Jones thought about future opportunities to bring some players to Wales to share their testimonies with his team.
Their passion for the sport was evident but they lacked the necessary sport equipment. The lack of specialized chairs was the biggest obstacle because of their high cost and bulkiness to ship. Jones sensed deeper reasons for this visit, and compelled to do something, when he returned to Wales, mentioned the wheelchair predicament to the Ospreys.
“I said to head coach Paul Jenkins, ‘Surely, we can do something about this,’” Jones stated. Jenkins and a number of players agreed, and in the following weeks, players donated their older, second-hand chairs. Jones then had a conversation with RMA Sport UK, a Welch manufacturer of sports wheelchairs, who generously donated four new chairs as well as their services to refurbish the four second-hand chairs. The total of chairs came out to eight—exactly the number needed for a rugby match. Jones rejoiced in seeing God in the details and the Welsh rugby community come together, eager to see wheelchair rugby kickstarted in Kenya.
With a local church partner covering freight and shipping costs, things came together, and the chairs shipped out around Christmas. They have recently arrived in the country and the Kenyan team is eagerly awaiting their delivery to test them out.
The wheelchair procurement and distribution project slid open the doors for more opportunities to get the Gospel further to his players. “Most of our team are third-generation non-believers, and they are asking about my faith,” Jones said. “The manufacturing company is a secular company, but they are intrigued by the generous nature of our request for wheelchairs. It starts a spiritual search.”
Jones dreams of forming a cultural exchange partnership between the Welsh and Kenyan teams, one day bringing Kenyan athletes to Wales to compete and share experiences. With many Kenyan players strong in their faith, Jones is expectant for God to show up in the partnership between teams with the good news of Jesus.
These wheelchairs could be just the beginning as God opens doors and uses willing hearts like Jones’s to transform the All Ability Sport world to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes and make disciples of all peoples.
Steve Jones and partners are paving the way for All Ability Sport ministry across the world and are currently working to develop resources for the hearing and visually impaired coaches and athletes. Please pray for wisdom and direction for Jones as chaplain to rugby teams but also as ambassador to All Ability Sport.
Get involved in donating sports equipment through Operation FCA.
Click here: Operation FCA