John Brown University Rugby Travels to Northern Ireland

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Siloam Springs, Ark (June 21, 2002) - 19 John Brown University students, most of whom play rugby for the JBU rugby club, and two faculty/staff sponsors recently returned from a 15-day trip to Ballynahinch, Northern Ireland. The trip was a ministry/ missions trip, during which the students played rugby, spoke in the public schools and churches, and volunteered in several drop-in centers’ after-school programs.

“This trip allowed our students to utilize rugby as an effective ministry,” said Steve Beers, trip sponsor and JBU’s vice president for student development. “It was great to have these students representing JBU. They worked and played with integrity, respect and enthusiasm.”

During their 15 days in Northern Ireland, the JBU rugby club played three rugby games against the Ballynahinch rugby club. In order to play official games against the Northern Ireland team, JBU’s club had to receive permission from the Irish Rugby Federation. The federation finally granted this permission two days after the JBU rugby club arrived in Northern Ireland.

“After each game, our team invited the other team to pray with them in the center of the rugby pitch,” Beers said. “This opened even more doors for our ministry.”

One member of the JBU rugby club, Johnny Knox, lives in Ballynahinch and plays rugby for the Ballynahinch rugby club. Knox played against the JBU rugby club during their three games in Ballynahinch. Knox just completed his first year at JBU and will return to JBU and the JBU rugby club in the fall.

All of the team’s ministries had a continuing component after the team returned home to the United States, Beers said. “Even after they returned home from the trip, the students continued to stay in contact with the young people they met in Northern Ireland. We were also able to begin some work in Ballynahinch that the local churches there will be able to continue in the months and years to come,” Beers said.

In the 20 years since the JBU rugby club was founded, this is the first overseas ministry trip the team has taken. This is the sixth year that JBU has sent student groups on ministry trips to Northern Ireland.

The JBU rugby club regularly plays against the rugby clubs at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Arkansas, along with tournament play against teams like Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University. The JBU rugby club always invites their opponents to pray with them on the pitch and sing the doxology at the conclusion of each game.

John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of over 1,600 students from 45 states and 33 countries. JBU is a member of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

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