This Series of Blogs provide vignettes of the early pioneers of The Muscular Christianity Era - Faith-Sport Integration who laid the foundations for the Modern Day Sports Outreach Movement
ROBERT ROSS MCBURNEY INSPIRATIONAL ANECDOTES
TRANSFORMATIONAL ENCOUNTER: From its inception in 1852, the New York YMCA had always closed its doors for Holidays. McBurney was first employed by the Y 10 years later and made a decision to open the doors of the Y on the Christmas of 1863. He did so because he was experiencing a personal sense of loss, loneliness, homesickness and grief. He had only recently learned of his own father’s death in Ireland and his own feelings of emotional longing made him believe there may also be some other poor soul who found himself alone and in need of companionship on such a special day.
As if on cue, a young sailor from England appeared and McBurney opened the Y to the young homesick lad. He shared dinner with the young fellow who being thus embraced by McBurney proceeded to pour out his heart to his newly found friend. The young man related what a wild and wayward son he had been and he even produced a letter from his father in which the father stated how much the son had disgraced him. As could be counted on with McBurney, the conversation was steered towards the young man giving his life over to Christ and before the lad left, he had indeed determined to do so. This new Christian came to the Y every day his ship was in port, but after the ship sailed to its next destination and McBurney never again heard from him.
TEN YEARS LATER: During an international evangelical alliance meeting held in New York, two English delegates came to the Y for a tour. As McBurney led them through the building and came to know their names, he recognized his one guest’s name to be the same as the young sailor boy who had visited on Christmas day ten years earlier. McBurney inquired if the English delegate knew of the young lad. McBurney’s inquiry piqued the gentleman’s interest and he proceeded to ask McBurney a number of questions concerning the lad. After receiving sufficient information he finally confessed the young man in question was in fact his son. He further related to McBurney the sad news of his son’s death, having been washed over board at sea. However, he stated he would be eternally grateful to his tour guide for leading his son to Christ, because his son had never caused him another moment of grief. He further explained since that Christmas day conversion his son’s life had completely turned around. Since that decision for Christ the doors of the YMCA remained open every Holiday as a beacon to any wayfaring and lost soul.
TRANSFORMATION ENCOUNTER #2 - A similar story concerned another young man who walked into the Y just to get out of inclement weather. Upon entering, he was impressed with the overall warmth with which he was received. One of McBurney’s young assistants was the first to welcome the young man and quickly introduced him to McBurney. Before long, the young man shared that while raised in a fine Christian home in England, he had drifted away from all that he knew to be right and true. Within minutes, in typical McBurney fashion, the visitor was invited to make things right with the Lord and the three dropped to their knees, where the wayward son prayed to receive Christ.
A CHANGED LIFE LEADS TO A CHANGED WORLD - This young man left with a new found faith and purpose for his life. He stayed in touch with McBurney through the years, keeping him informed as to his progress. He completed missionary and medical school and subsequently spent the rest of his life as a career medical missionary. He never forgot McBurney, and regularly sent monthly reports of his mission work back to the man who had warmly received him on that blustery night years before. Had it not been for that night and for the invitation to bow before the Lord, an entire population would have been bereft of the medical and spiritual help they so desperately needed. Just a few days before he passed away, McBurney gratefully read the last communiqué he would ever receive from his missionary friend.
The Life of Robert McBurney by Dr. Lawrence L. Doggett, 1925. Dr. Doggett was the President of Springfield College where the YMCA training school was held.
My Life with Young Men by R. C. Morse, 1918.
Robert Ross McBurney - a Memorial, Ed. by R. C. Morse.
World Service - a History of the Foreign Work and World Service of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States and Canada by Kenneth Scott Latourette, Association Press, New York: 1957.
This blog is an excerpt from a future book: "Surrounded by Witnesses" by Dr. Greg Linville All rights reserved. For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. w. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or email@example.com
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville and other local church Sports, Rec & Fitness Ministers are archived at: http://www.csrm.org/blog/
Dr. Greg Linville was one of the founding members of CSRM and has served as the Executive Director since 2000. He served for 15 years as a local church sports and recreation minister and coached over 25 years at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels as well as 30 years in rec. leagues. Dr. Linville has consulted with churches from New Zealand, Australia, Africa, Europe and North America. He was awarded the world's first honorary Doctorate in Sports Ministry and holds an earned Doctorate as well. He is the author of Christmanship: The Theology of Competition Sport. Dr. Greg has been married for over 30 years, is the father of two married children and the grandfather of a growing number of grandchildren.