Organiser: James Butcher ~ Christian Golf Society | Church Golf | National Church Golf Cup in partnership with CVM

Organiser: James Butcher

James Butcher (currently on sabbatical)
CGS Founding Team
CGS Essex Cup Organising Team
CGS National Cup Organising Team

When I was asked to write my story for the Christian Golf Society website, I suddenly became more nervous than I have ever been standing on the first tee.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to make it to the National Final of an English Golf Union competition and I was announced on to the tee over a microphone. I was shaking just taking a practice swing.

I wasn’t sure why I was nervous about what I was to write here, because it’s not like it’s a surprise to you that I am a Christian, after all I am an organiser of the CGS.

Then I realised that it was because I felt that to put down in words for all to read, people may  expect me to be perfect, or a good person. I didn’t think I was that at all, certainly not good enough to write my story on a website. This then made me laugh as recollected that in a round-about sort of way, it was thoughts like these that brought me to decide to become a follower of Jesus - a Christian 9 years ago.

As I grew up, although my Mum went to Church, my Dad’s view was that faith was something people decided for themselves and shouldn’t be imposed – like most kids, I thought Church and Sunday school was boring and I was delighted at the chance to stay at home and play football.

I started to go to Church when I was about 15 and although I got baptised around that time, I also discovered beer and that was far more exciting. I know when you look at my baby-face photo above, you’re probably wondering how I was getting served in pubs as a 15 year old, but that’s Essex for you!

Throughout my final teen years and twenties, I had what most people thought was a good life – decent exam results - beer – university – beer – going to watch Arsenal FC at home and away – beer – playing sports – beer – decent job, fairly new car, my own pad – some more beer.

Come 1999 I hadn’t been remotely sober on a Christmas Eve for well over a decade but thanks to being let down by my best mate, I ended up having to drive when I went out and I spent the evening drinking soft drinks. Worse still, I agreed to go to midnight mass!

So there I am, stone cold sober on Christmas Eve and at Church, a bit of a turn up for the books. The vicar started talking that night about how some people thought of Christians as “good people” and wouldn’t commit to Jesus because they didn’t think they could be good enough. That was me! It was like that scene in the Blues Brothers when they are in Church and this light shines on John Belushi. I felt like God was talking to me, saying – "Hey James, are you listening?"

I suddenly realised although I had been baptised all those years ago I knew nothing. But I wanted to know more. As I left Church that night I took a booklet home with me which contained Luke’s gospel from the Bible and started to read it. I attempted to go the Church the following weekend, but it was shut - very embarrassing. A few weeks later I started going to an Alpha course. If you haven’t heard of Alpha, it's a course where people from outside the Church are invited to have a meal, hear about what Christian’s believe and challenge them about that.

Alpha gave me a chance to work out what I believed. I was talking to a guy there one evening about the crucifixion. I told him that I’d seen the film Ben Hur so I believed Jesus got crucified after a chariot race! However, I wanted to know whether it was true and what happened. The next week he said if I was interested in knowing more about the events of the first Easter then I might be interested in this book he had found for me. It explored the evidence for Jesus, the crucifixion and His resurrection.

Once I made my own mind up about who Jesus was and what I believed had happened I faced that big question – what was I going to do about it? Later on during 2000, very quietly and very privately I became a Christian.

It’s difficult to describe sometimes how that’s changed my life, what's different? One thing I can say is a couple years later I realised that there hadn’t been a single week that had gone by in over 10 years when I hadn’t drunk; sometimes heavily, sometimes to excess and far too many times with damaging consequences. I decided to stop drinking for a month. It's one of the hardest things I have done and the temptations during that time were massive – but so was the sense of release.

I feel I was really lucky. I got asked to go to a service, yet no one minded if I didn’t go. The Alpha Course was the same. My friend Andy told me one night the Jesus was like chocolate. He could tell me how great Chocolate was – but really I had to unwrap it for myself if I wanted to find out. If someone had come along trying to preach to me and convert me I’d have just switched off – much like I do at work when the Trade Union Stewards get going.

That’s where my involvement with the Christian Golf Society started. I wanted to be involved in something where people knew that some of the people there believe in Jesus and go to Church, yet there was no pressure – no one had the bible shoved down their throats. Because that way if someone wants to find out more they can – and if they don’t then there’s always the golf.

I'd love to see you at one of our regional cups or national final.


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