Book Review: Every One A Winner

I decided I wanted a bit of lighter reading over Christmas and being someone who enjoys sport and hearing Christian testimonies, I picked Every One A Winner by Jonathan Carswell and Emma Newrick off my shelf.

Roger and Jonathan Carswell have published quite a few books of testimonies now and this one has a specific focus on sports people.  Some quite well-known internationals, such as Jason Robinson (Rugby) or Debbie Flood (Rowing) and some less well known.  This variation in "fame" is itself really helpful, because it helps to see that it's not just a celebrity Christian book, but a book about real people and their commitment to Christ.  In the light of sad stories of no longer Christians like Jonathan Edwards, this is wise I think.

In the book there are eighteen short, well-written and easy-to-read chapters, which give the Christian testimonies of these sports people and relate their Christian faith to their lives in sport.  It's interesting to see common themes coming through, such as how sport isn't the be all and end all for them and how being a Christian affects their attitude to things like integrity on the pitch.

Like all testimonies the book has some strengths and weaknesses.  It is brilliant to see faith grounded in life and the transformation that faith in Jesus can bring to life and that is helpful for the Christian and the non-Christian alike.  It's worth knowing that some of the stories include things like adultery, gambling, alcohol, drugs and rape, so you'll need to think about who you give it to.  However, a testimony rarely communicates the gospel clearly - it's just hard to say what you need to say in any depth.  What is good here, is that the book has an epilogue, explaining the gospel.

It's also useful to have such a good number of testimonies, so you can see the affect of the gospel on all sorts of different people's lives.  However, that does mean that you only get a very brief insight into a person's life.

One of the more controversial aspects of the book is whether professionals should be involved in sports on Sunday (Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame is the most obvious example here).  Evangelicals take different views on Sunday and Sabbath of course and I think most would view it as a secondary issue.  It is good to see professional sports people wrestling with the issue, but I wondered if it needed to be such a big issue in some of their testimonies in a book that is intended to be evangelistic.

So who would this book be for?  Well I think it's useful to give to:

  • sports-mad older Christian teenagers/twenties, to help them think about their faith and their sport.
  • sports-mad non-Christian teenagers/twenties, for whom it might be a good entry point for the gospel.
  • those involved in working in sport or who are interested in sport, but who are a bit older, again whether they are Christian or not.
We run a Christians in Sport Quiz about once a year for our men's group.  I've thought I might have a few copies of this for some of those men this year.

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