Seconds out... minister's boxing mission
A Baptist minister has literally put his body on the line for the gospel
The Revd Adrian Redfearn challenged his personal trainer to come to an Alpha Course – if he could knock him down in a single round of boxing sparring.
Adrian (pictured right) is the minister of Castlehold Baptist Church in Newport on the Isle of Wight, and has been working with trainer and martial arts expert Martin Dell (left) for more than a year.
Martin is not a Christian but has an interest in spirituality and was happy to accept Adrian’s friendly wager.
So earlier this year the duo went toe-to-toe in an exhibition sparring bout in front of members of Adrian’s church, who had attended a self-defence thinking seminar taught by Martin at the Island Combat and Fitness Martial Arts Academy.
The seminar raised funds for the Living Room, an ecumenically-run community café next to the Baptist church in Newport High Street, where a number of people have been listened to and received help with physical, social and spiritual needs.
Though the minister performed creditably – Martin acknowledged he had made him “see stars” three times – Adrian didn’t land the knock-down blow.
‘I recognise that not all Baptists will approve,’ said Adrian. ‘My wife doesn’t.
‘However, how else are we going to reach people like Martin? It was really really hard. After two minutes and 20 seconds I was exhausted.
‘He might not (yet) be coming to our Alpha Course, but I have won his respect.’
The bout was filmed by church’s trainee youth worker Samuel Hughes, and has been viewed more than 500 times on Youtube. It showcases what Adrian has learnt under Martin’s guidance.
‘He performed really well on the night and impressed everyone with his performance,’ said Martin.
‘Adrian initially contacted me because he was a keen fan of boxing. Over the time he has been training with me he has dramatically improved his health and fitness which has allowed him to manage his work load as a minister more effectively.
‘And though I’m not a Christian I have learned from Adrian many things about Christianity during our training sessions which I would have otherwise not have learned.
‘He didn't quite manage it on the night but we are continuing our wager throughout our sessions.’
‘My interesting in boxing is genuine,’ continues Adrian. ‘I absolutely love it. I also took it up because as a church minister I just wasn’t looking after my health properly, and I find exercising on my own so boring.
‘At this level it’s an extremely carefully regulated sport.
‘I admit it’s a controversial way of evangelism. But there’s no way Martin would go on an Alpha Course otherwise. Some church members have even said it’s “amazing”. What point of principle am I willing to bend for a greater principle?
‘I asked this of Castlehold recently: “I’m willing to take a punch in the face to get someone to an Alpha Course. What are you doing?” ’