Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Working as a Motorsport Chaplain.

"God look over us today, even though so many choose to overlook you"
Garry Coleman - Bathurst Track Prayer 2014 

This is just a single line from a 90 second prayer V8 Supercar chaplain, Garry Coleman, had the opportunity to pray in front of a crowd of 195 thousand people and international TV audience of over 3 million before the Bathurst 1000 race this year.

Chaplains are ministers who work within a certain environment, usually, not governed by principles based on the faith they hold. This causes tension at times, but handled effectively gives an incredible opportunity to show people Jesus’ love and grace. There are sports chaplains in nearly every sporting code in Australia, as well as chaplains for the military, hospitals, police, fire and of course schools all over this nation.

Garry and myself are just 2 of over 40 motorsport chaplains working in Australia, and though much of our work is behind the scenes, it is amazing the public influence Garry can have on Australia’s biggest day in motor sport. However, the majority of the ministry is focused on things that happen behind the scenes, really interacting with the community at the track; not just the drivers, but the engineers, mechanics, family, marshals, firemen and medical officers. It is not overtly evangelical role, but more subtly so through a focus on pastoral care and compassion.

Motorsport is dangerous, but those involved are full of passion; people race because they love it. As chaplains we respond to all the different results that come from that risk.  We're usually based with the medical team and work closely with the track doctors in assisting with follow up, communicating with families and doing the additional things to help out like picking up from hospital and taking personal belonging back to people - or even just simply sitting with someone while they get their fluids replenished before walking them back to their job point.

Betty Klimenko, V8 Supercar team owner,
took and posted this photo of Dad & I
 on Instagram with some kind words
about our work.
Last weekend I worked the Gold Coast 600 event for V8 Supercars with Garry and my father. In all there were actually five chaplains on track for the weekend but I was based in pit lane with the medics and had a whole range of opportunities to show the love of Jesus.  I actually missed the majority of the final V8 Supercar race on the Sunday because I was picking up someone who had been injured on track from Robina Hospital - that's the job and missing the main event to help someone is certainly not an issue in my mind.

Even with that though there was plenty of time to submerse myself in my passion for motorsport. I got to chat with heaps of drivers, actually walking on the grid before the race and sharing a word of encouragement with many of them (from all driving manufacturers as well) before they jumped in their cars for the race.  Early mornings before the public is allowed in is when all the drivers and teams arrive.  They do pit stop practice, have breakfast together and there is a really warm and inviting atmosphere which is great to simply mix into - kind of lurking with intent - looking for meaningful conversation opportunities.

Like Garry's prayer said, many of these people over look God, but we can be there to show them that God still looks over them.

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