Chairman of Well-Being Australia Mark Tronson says it has been his privilege to have been a receiptent of wisdom from numerous such people leading up to and during his 18 years of founding the Sports and Leisure Ministry, 17 years as the Australian cricket team chaplain, and 29 years in faith financed mission.
One of these people was Ian Barkley.
Mark Tronson continues the story: Ian Barkley has ministry pedigree in Rugby League. Roy Masters, Rugby League coach and acclaimed Fairfax sports journalist lost his 14 year old son in a heart-lung operation in 1984. It was my privilege to personally minister to Roy Masters.
He later wrote a major feature article on the sports chaplaincy I was developing and, quoted the 1980's Rugby League superstar Ian Barkley on his relationship with Jesus Christ with what I consider to be the best sports evangelistic journalism I have witnessed in any Australian city daily. And I quote:
'Actually his (Mark Tronson) task may not be that difficult if he meets footballers like Manly's Ian Barkley. "In Australia, it's very hard to stand up and be counted for Christ," Barkley says. "But the more I read the Bible, the more I knew I had to stand up and be counted. The internal peace I have found can't be explained. It's like trying to explain post-game soreness to someone who hasn't played. Or describing the Mona Lisa to someone who hasn't seen it. I've become more committed to my football ….. I have been given a God-given opportunity to let others hear of my experiences and feel the power of the Holy Spirit."'
Ian Barkley came to Christ through his Newcastle girl friend Libby's strong witness, later becoming his wife.
Ian Barkley has spoken of his faith in Christ in countless churches, youth rallies, teenage groups, schools, service clubs…. He received huge television and media attention and always gave a wonderfully positive image. Ian Barkley's presentation style became an evangelistic model for Christian athletes. I had Ian Barkley give "how to" athlete testimony seminars at several conferences.
Over the years it has been my privilege to ask Ian Barkley to speak at many outreaches and as key-note speaker at the 1996 sports mission's annual banquet.
Ian has and continues to do Country Town Tours in sports mission. He and I did a Cootamunda Country Town Tour in 1994 where a packed Saturday night outreach heard Ian's powerful yet humourous message. He speaks across the generations.
Ian Barkley and jockey Darren Beadman did an astonishingly remarkable Country Town Tour to Goondiwindi, Queensland in 1998 that it was the most significant Christian event of the decade in that community. Its impact remains.
Ian & Libby Barkley live in Newcastle, they have two daughters. He is a businessman and enjoys his Rugby League media.
Ian Barkley is an inspiration! Ian is an illustration! Ian is a Christian athlete with the gift of "a turn of phrase" who taps so effectively into our cultural experience.