Bill Hunter was a policeman, chaplain, businessman and marathon runner. But God had even more in store for him.
Can you tell me a little about your business?
I loved the police but after 21 years I was ready for a change, and moved into first aid training. I had a lot of contacts in the industry and it took off straight away. It has become a real family business.
You were also a chaplain for the NRL’s Broncos.
I feel honoured and privileged to have been in the position. Many people are surprised to learn all NRL teams have a chaplain.
Most of our work is behind the scenes. It involves supporting players, staff and coaches—whoever needs you. It’s not just spiritual guidance, but also counselling, referrals to support groups when people need help with certain issues, and doing weddings, christenings and funerals. I was there for their spouses and families as well. There is so much a chaplain can do in major sporting clubs.
You had so much keeping you busy, so why did you pray for more to do?
Obviously I have a Christian faith, and I was reflecting on the fact I had lived such a blessed life to that point, with so many exciting opportunities. I had been very heavily involved in my Salvos church, but I had basically over time become a ‘pew warmer’ (apart from some mentoring of young sportspeople). There was no excitement and I cried out to God and said, “Do something”—and within two weeks my life turned upside down.
What happened next?
It’s a long story, but basically I could not get the idea of starting a ‘sports church’ out of my head—even though I thought through every reason this relaxed, crazy Salvos ‘sports church’ idea, near the stadium, with whistles and half-time oranges wouldn’t work.
Basically, still arguing with God in my head, I lay down and could not get up again, nor could I move any part of my body—until I said yes to God. The words “Be a history maker in sports ministry” kept going through my head and I said, “Lord, I don’t think in those words, but you have 24 hours to convince me.”
I got out my Bible for something else and out fell a little slip of yellow paper on which I had written those very words years before. Every other door then opened. It’s nuts, and it’s a crazy story, but it happened! Looking back, I think it was probably the most powerful spiritual encounter I have ever had.
Tell us about God’s Sports Arena (GSA).
As well as a church for sportspeople, after eight years it has developed into an inner-Brisbane city church with many people attending who are working through drug and alcohol recovery. We have many who have just come out of prison—some are homeless. We average about 120 often really broken people each Sunday.
We try to love people, encourage them and not judge them—our aim is to accept and love, no matter the circumstances. It is very raw church—we don’t care where they have been, what they look like, what their sexual preferences are, what their past is. We are a safe place and we simply preach Jesus.
Is life transformation real?
Transformation is 100 per cent what happens at GSA. We get so many requests for our people to speak to groups and at Red Shield Appeal launches because many have experienced such radical transformation and many have come to radical faith. They have often come back from severe addiction and everything that entails.
Programs and services are essential, but in my experience, God plays an integral part, especially in the life of so many people who are successful in recovery. It really it seems to me that the spiritual component is essential. That is why we continue to journey with people. It’s challenging, messy, raw, miraculous and incredible all at once.