The Boys Who Sang a Christian Anthem at a Rugby Match

‘Oh come to the altar; the father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.’

Not the words you’d imagine being shouted by a bunch of teenage boys during the half-time break at a rugby match. But at last year’s grand final between long-time rivals St Joseph’s Nudgee College and the Southport School, that’s exactly what happened. There’s video evidence, and we guarantee it’ll give you chills!

The Nudgee Boys—Stephen, who sang, and Ben, who played keyboards—could hardly believe it either. They told Alex during a Vision180 interview that it was the culmination of a year of praying. They knew God was powerful in their school, but they couldn’t see how.

On the Wednesday before the big game, they decided to take the massive gamble of teaching a Christian song at a Catholic school. ‘Come on, boys. We’re gonna do something different this weekend. We’ll teach you a song.’

Turns out they didn’t have to. Everyone already knew the words.

‘And then come Saturday,’ Ben revealed, ‘they were all fired up and ready to go.’

To hear their whole school belting out the anthem, originally by Elevation Worship, was a triumphant moment for both of them. ‘Having teachers responding, and students responding, in such a powerful way—it’s been incredible,’ Stephen added.

For those of you wanting to step out and do something for Christ in your own school, Ben thinks prayer is the most important thing. They’d been praying over this for more than a year. And even though they were not really seeing any impact, they never lost hope. ‘So just pray into it as much as you can, and don’t hold anything back.’

‘We would do mass and full school assembly,’ Stephen said, ‘and we’d be like, yeah, that was good, but we haven’t seen anything. We want to see something. But we just kept on praying, and being faithful, and eventually, we got to play in front of the grandstand.’

The performance has kickstarted conversations with a lot of other students, including non-Christians. They talked about hearing songs on the radio, and thinking, ‘That was cool.’ ‘But then when they hear a song that Ben and I play, it touches them. It’s an emotional touch as well. It’s something that they’ve never felt before, which they want to hear more of.’

These days, even Christian music can be controversial. However out of the many thousands of people who’ve watched it, only one guy wrote a negative comment about the video. Unusually, Stephen decided to reach out to the hater. ‘So I sent him a message, and had a bit of a chat. I haven’t yet converted him, but close to it, I’d like to think.’

Converting a keyboard warrior into a believer? A bit far-fetched, you might think. Well wait until you hear Ben’s story. Believe it or not, he used to be a passionate atheist. He’d grown up in a Christian family, going to church every weekend, but he says the message just never sank in.

‘And then I started researching more into science, and around year 7, year 8, I started looking into evolution. I thought you don’t need God anymore. This is just a fairy tale.’

Ben was so passionate about his beliefs that he actually started an atheist club at his school. ‘It was me and about four other mates; we’d just sit round just talking about how crazy Christianity is. We’d even get to the point where we’d almost bully kids for being Christian. Unless you deny God, you can’t sit with us at lunchtime. Go away!’

we just kept on praying, and being faithful, and eventually, we got to play in front of the grandstand

He remembers the exact date when everything changed. On the morning of 20 July, he was walking to his next class with a friend when he heard someone saying: ‘Ben, come back.’

‘I turned to my mate, and said what do you want me to come back for? We’re walking together. He was like: “I didn’t say anything, Ben.”’

As the day went on, I kept hearing those same words, again and again and again. ‘Ben, come back.’

‘This is just weird,’ I thought. ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know what I’ve been eating.’

‘I was just walking at lunchtime, just by myself, trying to air my head from it all. And I was just looking up to the sky, and I could have sworn that what I saw was an angel, coming down from the sky. And it just reached out its right hand, and said, “Ben, come back.” I didn’t know what to think. I was almost crying. I was just shocked.’

Ben had no idea what to do. He’d literally just been making fun of kids for believing in something he’d now seen with his own eyes. He went home and started researching, but this time he was looking for proof that what he’d seen could be true. ‘I started finding a lot of evidence I didn’t think was actually there. I think I’d just ignored it in the first place.’

A couple of nights later, Ben had a dream. ‘I was looking in a bathroom mirror, and through the reflection, I saw Christ on the other side of the mirror. He was just sitting there. Didn’t say a word. And He just pointed to the top right corner of the mirror.’

Written there was Jeremiah 33:3. He knew this was a Bible verse, but he had no idea what it said. When he woke up, he rushed to look it up, and of course, the words he read were exactly what he needed to hear. ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

There’s so much we can’t know about how God will work out His plans. Who could have guessed that a passionate atheist would end up playing in a band honouring Christ? Ben and Stephen felt sometimes that their work wasn’t making a difference. But they stayed faithful and kept praying, and now we’ve seen God move through a lot of people in a big way.

The song they sang says: ‘Bear your cross while you wait for the crown, tell the world of the treasure you found.

Being that ray of light isn’t always easy, but whether you’re trying to help out a friend, or your whole school, don’t give up. God can do amazing things through you.

About the author

Jonathan Craig

MORE GREAT READS FROM

Manic Drive Go Into the Wild

Canada’s Manic Drive have been around since 2004, but recently they’ve taken a new approach to their music. Rather than just writing songs for people who are already on their Christian walk, they’re now also reaching out to people who don’t know about Christ. That decision is represented by their new album and single, both…

Songs About Our Culture

We reckon every new track Branan Murphy puts out is gold. Adopted by older parents, he grew up listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys, which taught him an old-school respect for melody. But his thoughtful reflections on living in faith really set him apart. ‘I grew up in the Southern United States,’ he…

Stand-Up and Standing Out

Being one of the few Christian comedians in Australia isn’t an easy road. ‘If you think you want to be a stand-up comedian,’ Newcastle’s Uncle Nath told Alex, ‘God’s probably calling you to do it. Or you’re insane. It’s one or the other.’ The cool thing about comedy, he says, is that unlike, say, a…

How Apollo LTD Got their Name

For Jordon Philips, the hardest part of being in a band is working out what to call it. ‘We’ve always hated naming bands,’ he admitted to Alex. ‘It’s the worst!’ Adam Stark shouted in the background. Read on for the story of how they decided on their name, or listen to the podcast of their…

More Than Conquerors

Can you preach the Gospel by bending, smashing and breaking stuff? That’s the mission of the Conquerors Strength team from the US. Each of their amazing feats has a message behind it. ‘Jesus died for U,’ they tell audiences, ‘like the shape of this horseshoe. But if you accept him into your life, He becomes…

Pastor Chef’s Tips for a Balanced Lifestyle

Mark Kujawa, the Pastor Chef, says that when it comes to cooking, everyone wants ‘quick and easy’. He says that’s partly because we live in ‘a lazy culture’. But if you’re well-prepared, ‘quick and easy’ is actually possible. ‘I can do Spag Bol in about 10 minutes,’ he said. ‘So quicker than a Friday night…

The Truth About Millennials

Millennials are just THE WORST, right? At least, that’s what our elders say. There are seemingly endless pieces in the press talking about how terrible we are. Pastor Ben Windle has spent two years researching us, and he says we aren’t as bad as all that. Next time someone starts a story with ‘back in…

Shooting for Jesus

Jeremy Kendle has played basketball for some of Australia’s best teams since he moved here from the USA in 2015. He’s part of the Toowoomba Mountaineers’ team and was named the Queensland league’s most valuable player. A great season with the Bendigo Braves earned him a spot on the Brisbane Bullets’ roster. He also played…

More Than Her Bruises: Holly Starr

‘In a world where the truth is confusing, you are more than your scars and your bruises.’ These words reflect a lesson Holly Starr has learned the hard way, through some experiences that challenged her faith and her sense of identity. ‘Bruises’, one of our favourite tracks from last year, offers hope and perspective to…

Becca Bradley on Being Happily Unmarried

Listen to the audio interview below https://getmediapoint.com/document/episode/podcast/MDAwMTQ3MzcwNi5tcDM.mp3   In Church these days, young single women are facing massive pressure to find a partner. But in a recent Facebook post, 27-year-old singer Becca Bradley wrote: ‘I’m waiting until I find a man who loves me as much as my dog does. And she loves me a…

Alex in Nepal for Miracles Day

Recent Articles

Manic Drive Go Into the Wild

Canada’s Manic Drive have been around since 2004, but recently they’ve taken a new approach to their music. Rather than just writing songs for people who are already on their Christian walk, they’re now also reaching out to people who don’t know about Christ. That decision is represented by their new album and single, both…

Jots and Tittles: Shalom

If ever you go to Israel, this ancient word will definitely be the most useful by far to know. It’s an all-purpose greeting, used for ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’—even though it doesn’t mean either of those. It’s also useful as a response. Someone says, ‘Shalom’ to you and the correct reply is ‘Shalom,’ or if you…

Brave the Wild

A testimony is not just one event in your life that defines or answers all—it is a continuous journey with uncertain terrains, challenges and obstacles. These trials build us, making us stronger and leading us in a path of faith. I grew up in a beautiful Christian home. Loving and supporting parents and an extended…

Live Different: Allegra

My name is Allegra! I’m 14 and I live in beautiful Tasmania. I am homeschooled, one of three kids, and an artist. I want my life to glorify Jesus only. I want His way, plan and will for my life to be accomplished. I’ve always wanted to get married! But I had no idea how…

Donate to vision

Over 80% of our income is from the freewill gifts of wonderful people just like you.
So thank you for helping. Your generous support is 'Connecting Faith to Life'.