christian testimony


Max Wigley



THE worlds of theatre and cricket don’t always mix together automatically – but Max Wigley is one exception to the rule.

After 28 years as a theatre chaplain and a minister, he found himself at a loose end in 2003 -that was until Yorkshire County Cricket Club came calling.

“My son was a professional cricketer, and he was with Yorkshire and didn’t want me to be chaplain while he was there! But he then moved to Worcestershire, so when he was gone I went to Yorkshire and it’s been great,” says Max.

“It’s been like having a little parish all of my own, because it’s a big set up there. There’s a big office staff all-year round, so I’m not just chaplain to the players, I’m chaplain to the whole club.

I just love rubbing shoulders with ordinary people who wouldn’t normally darken the door of a church. It’s a pastoral role, a holistic role really. Very, very rewarding.”         


This kind of role is becoming more important than ever in the world of leather upon willow. As Max explains, cricketers have particular needs and vulnerabilities which need to be addressed.   

“Cricketers have the highest incidence of suicide and of marriage breakdown among sports people). I asked my son why he thought the statistics were as they are  and he said that the thing about cricket is that you start training after Christmas and after thatv you start playing from the end of March, beginning of April.

“You play until getting on for the end of September, And it’s not like football where you play a couple of hours per game, then go back home –  you’re on the road, so you eat, sleep and play with these guys 24/7.

“You might be playing in Taunton against Somerset, and then  get a coach and drive up to Chester-le-Street to play Durham, so you’re on the go all the time. You’re never away from one another. And therefore, when all of a sudden you’re released, what do you do? You’re just lost.  

The cricket season gets underway this month. We caught up with the chaplain of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Max Wigley back home – you’re on the road, so you eat, sleep and play with these guys 24/7.

“You might be playing in Taunton against Somerset, and then you get on a coach and drive up to Chester-le-Street to play Durham, so you’re on the go all the time. You’re never away from one another. And therefore, when all of a sudden you’re released, what do -you do? You’re just lost.

“My son was with Northamptonshire until 18 months ago but had to have an injection in his back for a hamstring problem he had, but they went in too far with the needle and injured his spinal cord.

He was desperately ill for about a month, and when he came round he wasn’t fit to play again that season. He got to the end of the season and he was out of contract and they just released him. No qualms, no loyalty or anything. He just drove to the club and emptied his locker, put it in the back of the car, drove out and then had ro return his sponsored car.

“So that’s the difference between cricket and other games  – it’s less predictable – so I will e-mail players if they are going through a hard time or they’re out of a game and just say, “Hope things get better, keep your head up’. So that’s the pastoral side. 

This side of max’s job was nurtured at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford where he was chaplain for 28 years. During that time, he mixed with a whole host of household names – several of whom came to faith. But one of the most notable encounters came when Cannon and Ball came to the Alhambra. The comedy duo were at the height of their fame but were barely on speaking terms. Fortunately for them, and particularly for Bobby, Max stepped in.

“Bob and Tom and I became friends, and one day I said to him: ‘I really think you and I ought to have a chat, Bob.’ So I went in, in between the matinee and evening performance,  and we sat and talked, and he came to faith.


“But it wasn’t on that night because he was so frightened. He said, ‘Can I come and see you at home on Friday?’ which was later on in the week, so he came and we had a chat in my study, and he knelt down on the floor and asked Christ into his life. And then Tommy came to faith about four years later. So that was the turning point and they’ve been going on ever since.”

And this description is an appropriate one for Max himself. Still going strong at the age of 74, he is in no mood to stop his chaplaincy work any time soon.

“One of the Yorkshire coaches once said to me: ‘Having you around is like having a steel rod go­ing through the centre of the club’, which was rather nice because you do feel you’re appreciated. At the moment, it seems to be going well and so I hope to carry on until I get too old to drive – although hopefully somebody will have the guts to tell me when they feel it’s time I drew stumps!”

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pastor’s weekly thought






Rev. Ian Williams


There are 2 core ingredients we need to fulfil our purpose as effective church:
1/ Energised Faith.
2/ A healthy perspective of who we are.

Knowing who we are means knowing who God is first.
Psalm 139 beautifully describes how fearfully and wonderfully made we are.
Our bodies are so complex and fascinating, with numerous biological intricacies. How amazing! We are made in His image. In Genesis God our Father describes His creation of man as “very good.”

Perspective means outlook; to have a good viewpoint. This term can be purely applied to our natural eye, but, as Christians, we require a spiritual outlook that is achieved through the Word of God, applied to our lives.
We do not see things as they are – we see them as we are.

The higher and deeper we go, the more our perspective changes. Our outlook needs to be based on faith and yet, is often clouded, coloured and influenced by past teaching, experiences, mindsets, upbringing, culture and even our current circumstances. All of these things affect the way we see both God and ourselves.


Read the story of the 10 spies in Numbers 13. God had already explicitly promised the land would be theirs and yet, only two had faith to see it.

40 years later, and Caleb had held on to the Word God had spoken. “Now give me this mountain!” Sometimes it takes time to see the delivery of a promise – maintain a faith filled outlook at all times. God’s timing is perfect.


See 1 Samuel 17. Amongst all the armies of Saul, David had an outlook unlike anyone else’s. Instead of being intimidated by Goliath, he ran towards the Giant that others were so scared of. David understood who he was, and, more importantly, who God was in him.

A faith filled outlook will result in increased prayer, giving and outreach involvement. It determines whether we simply spectate or actively participate. We have a privileged calling – understand that when you truly discover who you are in Christ and engage in the pursuit of relationship with Him, there is truly nothing that can thwart God’s plans concerning you.

Whatever you approach in life, it will, in one way or another, result in an outcome. And the deciding factor? Your outlook and yours alone.

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feasts of the Lord






Rev. John Willoughby


(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)



a) The Sabbath. Ex 20:8-11. The word sabbath means ‘desist’ or ‘rest’. With reference to v11 we read in Gen 2:3, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work, which God had created and made”. Coming before the Jewish law, this indicated that from the time of creation, God wanted one day in seven to be a source of blessing for all, not just the Jewish race. The following aspects are relevant:

* For Jews. Ex 23:12. We read in Ex 31:17,“the Sabbath is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever” and in v14 a warning, “Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death”. It was also described as, “a holy Sabbath to the Lord” (Ex 16:23) and, “a sign … that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Ex 31:13). We also read in Isa 56:2, “Blessed is the man who … keeps from defiling the Sabbath” and in Isa 58:13-14, “if you turn … from doing your pleasure on My holy day and call the Sabbath a delight”, you will be blessed. Each Sabbath (the seventh day) they were instructed to sacrifice two lambs, “without blemish” as a burnt offering, together with a grain and a drink offering (Num 28:9-10). It was to be a special day of rest for His people, when no work or reaping of crops was to be undertaken (Ex 35:1-3) and as a result it proved a means of trusting in God that His supply on the sixth day, would also be sufficient for the seventh. An example of God’s faithfulness is seen, when He provided manna for His people in the wilderness, which they were instructed to eat the same day on which it was gathered, but if they kept it for longer, it would be filled with maggots. However, He gave the one exception – that they could gather for two days on the day before the Sabbath and miraculously it would not go bad (Ex 16:23-26)!

* For Jesus. Mk 2:23-28. He would often teach in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Mk 6:2) and respected it as a holy day, but would not be under the Pharisaic interpretation of it. It was rather to be a time of spiritual and physical benefit to the people, rather than a burden (v27). He felt free to bless with healing and deliverance on this day – healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda (Jn 5:1-15), the man with a withered hand (Mt 12:10-13), the blind man (Jn 9:1-13) and delivering a woman from a spirit of infirmity (Lk 13:10-16).

* For Christians. Col 2:16-17. Jesus rose from the dead, “on the first day of the week” (Lk 24:1), which is the day after the Sabbath (Mt 28:1) and on the same day appeared to Mary (Mk 16:9), to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13) and to many of His disciples (Jn 20:19). On this day (Sunday) Christians started to worship together, “to break bread” (Acts 20:7) and to give their tithes (I Cor 16:1-2). As the Sabbath was a covenant sign that the Israelites were the people of God (Ex 31:16-17), so Sunday can be seen by the world as a sign that Christians belong to Christ, as they set it aside as a time of rest and a time to worship God and to celebrate the work of His Son. We read that John received revelation about present and future events from Christ, “On the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10). However, although Sunday is a day set apart in a special way for God, for Christians each day is a “Sabbath rest” in Christ (Heb 4:9. NIV).

b) The Sabbatical Year. Lev 25:1-5, 18-22. It took place on the last year of each seven years and was a year of rest for the land and for the people (v4). No work, planting or harvesting was allowed during this seventh year (v4-5), for they must rely on God to supply all their needs from a bumper harvest the previous year (v21). However, “the poor of your people may eat (from the fields) and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat” (Ex 23:11). This harvest of the sixth year would supply their needs for not only the rest of that year, but also for the Sabbatical year and for the following year, until the crops were harvested (v22). At this time all debts must be cancelled and all Jewish bond servants released with a blessing. Those bond servants who did not wish to leave their masters could remain with them as bond servants, if they so wished (Dt 15:1-3, 12-18). The Sabbatical Year taught the Jews to trust in Him to provide for their needs miraculously and for Christians not only to rest in His faithfulness for all our lives, but also that we can voluntarily become His bond servants.

c) The Year of Jubilee. Lev 25:8-17. It took place on the 50th year, following the seven Sabbatical years (49 years). No work, planting or harvesting was permitted during two years – the previous Sabbatical Year (49th year) and also the Year of Jubilee (50th year). They therefore needed to rely on God for a bumper harvest on the 48th year, for food during the 49th and 50th years and also for the following year after the year of Jubilee (51st year), until the crops were harvested. All sales and purchases during each year must take account of the 50th Year in their price structure (v15-16), for the Year of Jubilee was a time of great release from debts and slavery. Again it taught the Jews reliance on a faithful God for their needs during those years, when there was no harvest. We read in Lk 4:18-19 that Jesus encouraged Christians to trust in Him for all things and that He would release us from all bondage when He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (the Year of Jubilee).


The people were not required to go to Jerusalem for these feasts. There was a feast of the new moon, which took place on the first day the moon appeared after the change (I Chron 23:31). However, there were two other Feasts of particular importance:

a) The Feast of Purim (also known as ‘the Feast of Esther’). Esth 9:20-28. In the Book of Esther, God orchestrated a plot to deliver His people from evil, through the faith of Queen Esther and Mordecai, as they called on Him with prayer and fasting (Esth 4:16). Purim means ‘lots’ and relates to Haman (the enemy of the Jews), who chose by lot the date of 13th Adar (Esth 3:13), as the day on which to kill all the Jews (v23-24) in the empire of the Medes and Persians. The Feast is:

* For Jews. A means of celebrating the faithfulness of God in their release (in about 475 BC) from the evil schemes of Haman and is held on the 14th and 15th of the month of Adar (February or March) – a month before Passover. It is a time of great celebration, giving of gifts and the reading of the Book of Esther.

* For Christians. The Book of Esther reminds us to celebrate God’s faithfulness to all His people, no matter the circumstances or the opposition.

b) The Feast of Hanukkah (also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication). Jn 10:22-23. The word Hanukkah in Hebrew means ‘dedication’ and specifically refers to the dedication of the Temple of God. It is not specifically mentioned in the Old Testament, as the events took place just after its completion, when Israel was ruled for seven years from 171 BC by the infamous Syrian (Selucid) king, Antiochus Epiphanes (meaning ‘god in the flesh’). In 167 BC (three and a half years later) the Jewish population was forced to eat pork and Sabbath observance, circumcision of males and the reading of the Biblical scrolls were forbidden by royal decree. Amongst other desecrations, he ordered the High Priest to be murdered, a statue of Jupiter (Zeus), fashioned in his own likeness, to be erected on the brazen altar of the Temple and the daily sacrifice of a pig to be made on it. His antagonism towards God’s people was so bitter that at the statue’s dedication, he had the blood of a pig sprinkled in the Holy of Holies. However, the Jews had been forewarned of his coming and his desecration through the prophet Daniel (8:9-14). The end came in 164 BC, when Judah ‘the Maccabee’ led an uprising, which drove the Syrians from the Temple and the city, three and a half years after the Temple had been originally defiled. They rededicated the Temple on the 25th of Kislev (November to December) amidst great rejoicing and consecrated a new altar in place of the old. After the cleansing, they found that the huge ‘menora’ (golden lampstand) had sufficient oil for one day only. The lights on the golden lampstand should burn continually, according to Jewish law (Lev 24:1), but it would take eight days for the oil to be replenished. Miraculously the one day’s oil supply lasted for the full eight days (until new oil could be produced) and for this reason the eight day holiday of Hanukkah is also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’.

The Feast is:

* For Jews. A celebration, starting on the 25th of Kislev, which corresponds approximately to the time of Christmas, giving glory to God for His miraculous deliverance.

* For Christians. As we dedicate our lives (temples) to Him, “the light of the world”, He has promised that we, “shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jn 8:12) and that He would give us the Holy Spirit (represented by the oil in the golden lampstand). We can also see in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, aspects of the coming Antichrist – he will rule from Jerusalem for 7 years (Dan 9:27), three and a half years later will be worshiped as a god in the temple of God (II Thess 2:4) and will persecute God’s people (Rev 13:7). It is interesting that, “the abomination of desolation” to be set up in the Holy Place was four times referred to by the prophet Daniel (8:13. 9:27. 10:31. 12:11). It was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphenes in 167 BC, but Jesus also referred to this event as taking place in the future (Mt 24:15), which will be fulfilled a second time by the Antichrist (II Thess 2:4). However, at that time God will once again be supreme and His people will be overcomers (Rev 12:11).

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