In this fourth miracle article - I discuss how the PGA chaplaincy ministry developed.
By late 1984, I was ready to initiate the PGA chaplaincy. My first point of call was the Sydney PGA office, where Education Officer Max Garske (later to become the CEO of PGA) warmly welcomed the idea and took the chaplaincy model that I presented all the way through to final approval off his own bat.
As a result, Max was appointed by the PGA to be responsible for developing the final format of the chaplaincy in all areas of the PGA.
One of the first things Max Garske sought was to have the appointed chaplain attend the 'youth training school' program and present a paper on chaplaincy ministry.
This required an immediate PGA chaplaincy appointment. Fortunately, the Reverend Graham Lawrence, a Uniting Church minister in training, had already contacted me and explained his passion for linking golfers to the saving message of the Gospel.
Reverend Lawrence developed his ministry to the point where, over the years, he linked numerous Christian golfers to each other, thus establishing a tour 'fellowship' while remaining independent from it.
In this way, while very quietly encouraging and supporting the Christians on the golfing circuits, Graham Lawrence developed an all-encompassing ministry behind the scenes.
This was following a very important lesson that Mark Tronson had emphasised to all the chaplains of the various sports codes. The chaplain must be available to everyone; therefore he could not be seen to be part of a 'separate' group of athletes who were already committed to following the Lord Jesus Christ.
This demands some adept skills by the chaplain and supportive Christians in the sport, who recognise how important it is for the chaplain to become a true friend to all.
In this, the Australian culture is different from that in the USA sporting culture, which tends towards chapel programs and bible study sessions, even for the partners of athletes. In Australia, developing friendships with integrity takes time. Coaches, athletes and administrators want to have a good long look at you first; respect has to be earned.
The miracle of the PGA ministry was the manner in which it was adopted through the PGA and the way in which Golf Chaplains developed their ministries with integrity and care.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html