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"It matters a great deal who is going to win, but not at all who won"

Willie John McBride, Irish Rugby player

In God’s grip

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Carl Dambman, Bloomington, Westbow Press, 2022. ISBN978-1-6642-7335-1

Carl Dambman is a remarkable man. The book is effectively his autobiography, the story of how he used a passion for and great ability in wrestling to pioneer Christian ministry in sport. With great courage he and his family relocated from USA to Austria, Germany and Russia, learning two languages along the way.

The book is written with great honesty where he does not hide his disappointments at decisions about his role by leaders of Athletes in Action or Cru. He is honest about struggles with depression.

The book will be invaluable to the student of the origins and history of Christian ministry in sport – the 1989 ARENA conference, the formation of the European Christian Sports Union, the early conferences on sport and faith in Russia and beyond.

Carl worked at many Olympics both as an official chaplain and as part of an Athletes in Action “Olympic” evangelistic projects. He summarizes his philosophy as follows: “The heart of sports ministry remains using the platform of athletics to reach others with God’s love, and helping athletes and coaches grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ”.

This is enormously helpful in illuminating the tensions which have often existed between Athletes in Action’s evangelistic model and official chaplaincy which has an emphasis on serving.

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