A passion for Jesus on and off the field — JP Flugel

Good day from the Team Talk pavilion. This month we had the privilege of chatting to Port Elizabeth athlete, coach and evangelist Morne Redlinghuys. In the Q&W interview below he tells us a bit about his life, his family and his playing days.

Where did you grow up and tell us a bit about your family?

Born in Gelvandale, Springbok street, PE. Known as the Northern areas. The youngest of eight kids. We were four boys and four girls, but sadly in 2019 the eldest of the boys passed away. Growing up was tough, but our parents never gave up the fight. Dad was the breadwinner and mom was a “home executive” lol, house wife. Just love these new terminologies. Happily married to my beautiful wife, Shivon, since October 2014 – three kids, Liam, 20, Connor, 15, and Eryn, 12, from her first marriage, who I love like my own. Just enjoy being married and an instant dad. 

Where did you first start playing sport?

Being active and into sport was always in my blood. I suppose I was blessed with natural talent. Started at Gelvan Park Primary School playing soccer, think it was under 10, and in grade 6-7, under 13. And who was my coach? None other than former Stormers and Bok coach Allister Coetzee. Unfortunately, back then not many boys were interested in playing rugby, so soccer it was. Played for Rangers FC up until under 16. Changed sporting codes to play cricket. Bakers mini cricket was part of growing up where the likes of Ashwell Prince was also part of the mini cricket set up. Another former EP and Proteas player, Garneth Kruger was my team mate at club cricket level. I also played soccer in high school as well as cricket, volleyball, athletics, but just messed around with rugby. 2018 -2019 started playing over 35 soccer league on Wednesdays and currently playing 5-a-side independent church league for Lighthouse family church.

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Morne with Alister Coetzee

When did you know you had a passion for sport and which sport are you most passionate about?

My passion started at an early age. I was always participating no matter the code, whether in the street or in the park, school, etc. I enjoy being active and fit. Now, when it comes to real passion, that’s all dedicated to rugby which I started only playing after high school, in 1999 at the age of 21. I joined Wallabies RFC playing 1st team on the wing (14) in my second match at the club until 2007, under coach Desmond Kramer — and if you know rugby you’ll definitely know the name! In 2008 I joined PE Harlequins and my last 1st team game was in 2014 at 36 years old. Currently still involved in playing at Harlequins, but mostly 2nd team and also since 2016 part of the Legends. Just love the intensity and physicality of rugby. Retirement is not in my vocabulary yet, lol.

At what level did you compete?

My mind was never set on a sporting career, so I only competed at club level. But in 1999 had the opportunity to play against Argentina when they toured the country before the 99 World cup. I played with former provincial players. Harlequins were interested in me in 2000, but I was comfortable where I was, and at Harlequins you had guys that played EP rugby, Bulls, other provincial teams and even Springboks like Deon Kayser, Ricardo Loubsher, Allister Coetzee.

Morne with coach Peter De Villiers

What would you say was your most memorable time playing/coaching?

Playing 1st team club rugby in just my second game, having never played before. The match was against Argentina. Winning the league at both rugby clubs and then in 2006, scoring many tries. Spending time with the Boks, when Allister Coetzee was assistant coach. Coaching Wallabies U14 and St Thomas High school in 2012/13 with boys who never played rugby before and we ended up losing in the Night Series Quarter finals 5-0.

What challenges did you face on and off the field?

There were physical and mental challenges and later spiritual. Trying to establish yourself as a key player is always a challenge, especially when you are a new player at a club. But I had determination and discipline. A serious knee injury and the doubt set in of being able to get back into the team again. The real challenge started after accepting Christ as my Saviour. How my lifestyle and attitude changed and having to always remain focused on where your help and strength comes from. Living out a Christ-like character was difficult at times with all the temptations in sport.

When and how did you come to know the Lord?

In 2002 at a youth winter camp at Sumcay and after many years of not attending church or even having anything to do with God. I accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour the Friday evening and two years later became the camp co-ordinator.. GOD definitely had a plan.

Harlaquin Legends outreach.

How do you live out your faith on and off the field?

Always being humble, with a loving Christ-like attitude. Realising that there’s something far greater than your achievements. Treating others as you want to be treated. Knowing that you were called to serve and not to be served. Acknowledging God in all you do. Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people.

What struggles do you feel Christian athletes and coaches face today and how can they overcome these struggles?

With both, comes the desire to achieve and for some at any cost. If we take professional athletes and coaches, their winning percentage determines how good or great they are. So, for some, the pressures of winning is great. But I also see the pressure coaches are under at non-professional level. How they overcome this is definitely based on their relationship with God. And I think I answered that previously, many want to follow Christ, but can’t carry the cross daily, and in my opinion it’s the churches’ fault for saying to people that with God you can achieve/ you will make it the victory is yours/ but never clearly explaining what it is to carry your cross daily and follow Him. For many coaches and athletes their worth is measured in their achievements, when it’s actually found in your identity in Christ. When your identity is in HIM you don’t care about outcomes and what people say or think but what your Father thinks and says of you. Jeremiah 29:11

God uses people to disciple and mentor others. Who has been that person or even persons for you? And what sort of impact has it had on you?

After accepting Christ as my Saviour I was never discipled and got baptised about a year later. So, my walk with Jesus in my earlier years was a roller coaster ride. “Okay you are saved that’s cool, you have your ticket to Heaven,” but there was no one who nurtured me even bt saying “tell me more?” or asking “what is HE saying here?”. That all changed when my desire to know Him more grew and grew and in 2010 I just started reading God’s word and in that way built my relationship with God and I was discipled through His word. Since 2010 I have read the Bible from cover to cover 18 times and I’m five days away from finishing the New Testament again. Do I read it to know it word for word? NO – you are a slave to whatever is your master! When you eat you are no longer hungry. So, for me, why be hungry when I can be filled with His word and the Holy Spirit? God has shown, taught and revealed so much to me through His word. Also being involved in youth ministry since 2004 and men’s ministry with Word of Faith Christian Centre since 2011 has in a way discipled me. However, if someone has to be mentioned and honoured who has had an impact, it would be Pastor/ Prophet Denvar Marks, who I have known for the last 25 years as my brother is married to his sister. He has had a great impact on me, just through how his love for God and his character and identity is found in Christ have depicted real faith. Then also the senior pastor at Lighthouse Family Church, Trevor Anderson, has had a huge impact the last two years. Men after God’s own heart.  

Share with us some parting words of wisdom

God’s love never fails and we must always remember that He pursues us. He changes us, He heals us and He delivers us. We can read His word 1 000 times a day and pray 10 times a day but OBEDIENCE is key. James 1:22 — “Do not merely listen to God’s word and so deceive yourself but DO what it says.”  Knowing His word and living it are two different things as is praying and being patient. You have to seek Him with all your heart.

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