There is no more physically demanding and tactically difficult event in sailing than the Laser category. The single person boat requires muscular strength, endurance and immense skill to maneuver.
And in this event Ben Johnson was national standard. Ben grew up in Canberra were he competed as a national level Laser sailor and triathlete. His competitive spirit blew him to the highest levels of sport.
However, the true inspiration to his story is not in the races Ben won or the training hours logged.
What do you worship?
Pastor and author Tim Keller often talks about, “we all worship something.” We are either worshippers of God or we find something to fill that role. For many, that “something” else could be career, financial security, family or even sport.
As an elite athlete and Christian, Ben recognized the tensions of elite sport and the call on his life towards full-time parish ministry. It was this call that saw him divert his energy from his career as a nutritionist and dietician towards training at Sydney Missionary Bible College.
Endurance through trials
This same sacrifice and dedication initiated in his sport tacked over to Bible college. And through this process he developed his endurance: not a physical endurance developed through training on the bike, but a spiritual endurance that the Bible book of James Chapter 1 explains comes through trials and challenges.
One example of this saw Ben working in an aged care home helping his elderly clients. During one of those shifts he saw on the common room TV a live national broadcast of a sailing event on Sydney Harbor. The commentators were yelling with excitement the names of competitors, deep in battle, that Ben had sailed against just years before.
The contrast between being a superstar athlete on TV to cleaning up around an age home was a lesson in the “inverted kingdom” of Heaven which saw Jesus come not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
Through sailing this life journey Ben now ministers not just to his congregation at the Warrnambool Presbyterian Church building but also to the local surf club as their chaplain. His capacity to preach the grace of God and serve his community has come from years of dedication and making Jesus Lord of all.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html