A “chance ”encounter on a beach in Bermuda changed the life of Arvel Lowe,fitness coach for Birmingham City Football Club,also known as “The Blues.”Now his personal blues are gone in his life and he is reaching his goal by serving Jesus Christ in the competitive world of professional sport.Arvel Lowe is a member of a Pentecostal church in Solihull,and regularly speaks about his story at churches and groups around the UK with ‘Christians in Sport.’In an interview,Lowe,42,explained how he came to faith in Christ at a low point in his life.“At the end of the football season in May, 1997,I ended a relationship with my girlfriend of three years.To try to forget my sadness,I decided to go on holiday to Florida.Then early one morning,I heard a voice inside me,which said,‘Why are you going to Florida when you have a sister in Bermuda whom you have not seen for seven years?’“After this strange experience,Lowe phoned his sister Amanda the next day and asked if he could visit her.She was delighted.“I flew from London to Bermuda and that night my sister and I caught up with all of our news from the previous seven years,”he said. “After a while,my sister told me she had become a born-again Christian,and asked me if I would like to go to church with her that coming Sunday.I agreed.”

Beachside encounter

Wishing to clear his head,he decided to go for a long walk on the beach at Horseshoe Bay.“I was feeling pretty low and saying to myself,‘There has got to be more to life than this.’It was about mid- day and,as I was walking down the path of Horseshoe Bay,I noticed it was deserted. Suddenly,a young man appeared out of the bushes and started walking towards me.As we were near each other,I said, ‘Good morning ’and he replied,‘Good morning to you.’Lowe said he was startled when the young man,whose name was Cyril,added,“You ’re from England and you are involved in football.”He wondered how he could have known that so far from home.So,he asked him, “What do you do?”and Cyril replied,“I ’m a born again Christian studying to be a pastor.”He then asked Arvel,‘Are you born again?’‘No.I don ’t know what you mean,’said Lowe.He said,‘Have you given your life to Jesus Christ.’I said that I hadn ’t and so he said,‘Let me tell you, brother,that I have given my life to Jesus. He has changed me completely and He can do the same for you.’“We shook hands.As I turned to go,he put his hand on my shoulder and said,‘Jesus can make you a different person if you will only let him.’I then began to walk away and turned around and he had disappeared. “Later that evening I shared what had happened with my sister and she said, ‘You have got to come to church tomorrow!’Lowe remembers waking up that Sunday morning feeling “really emotional ”and not knowing why.“As I got to the church early that morning,25th May 1997,I started to cry and again didn ’t know why.I hadn ’t cried for 20 years.I then saw people with their hands raised. They were praising and worshipping God. I had never seen this before and couldn ’t stop looking at them.”Soon the pastor got up to preach and his sermon was based on Ezekiel 22:30.It was on how God was looking for a man to stand in the gap.He then proceeded to talk about my life and I thought,‘How does this guy know so much about me?”

Fame, money, clubs & women

“At that time,my life consisted of fame,money,night clubs and women -in fact,fast living -and,as he talked,my heart was pounding as if I ’d just finished a race.The pastor said,‘This is what God is looking for in a man -love,honesty, righteousness,taking responsibility,and forgiveness.’When he had finished preaching,he asked the congregation to stand and he said,‘This message is for someone here and is from God.You know who you are.Come forward and give your life to the Lord.’“Lowe said that his heart was saying,“Yes ”but his mind was saying “No,”as a battle was going on in his mind.“Then,at last,I went forward and gave my life to Jesus,” he said.“The pastor prayed the prayer of repentance with me and as soon I had finished,I felt a tremendous release and felt clean and an overwhelming joy.” Later that day,Lowe discovered that the pastor had already prepared a sermon, when he felt God was prompting him to change to Ezekiel 22.He added,“Cyril, the guy I met at the beach,became good friends and I kept in touch with him.I found out that he knew my sister.We met up again in London in March 2000 and I asked him,‘Where did you come from when you appeared on the beach that day?’I was amazed with his answer.”

Divine appointment

He told me that on that day in May ‘97, he had started a new job patrolling the beach.“That morning,when he awoke, he said that God told him,‘Who ever speaks to you today,you are to tell them about Me.’“He was supposed to be patrolling the beach with five other men and he lost them.He prayed to God to put him on the right path.This God did by bringing him onto the path I was on,right in front of me.”Arvel Lowe is now a member at Renewal Christian Centre in Solihull;in fact,if you ever attend this Elim Pentecostal Church,you will proba- bly meet Arvel at the front door as he is a hospitality steward there.Since his dramatic conversion he has met and married Anne,who is 39.“I met my wife when I attended a class that she runs for new Christians at Renewal Christian Centre,” he explained.“She has been a Christian for 33 years and was raised in a Christian home.We got married at Renewal Christian Centre on March 5,2000.We enjoyed a fantastic day.God really blessed us.We had over 700 people attend our wedding,including all the players and staff from Birmingham City Football Club,and many sports personalities. “Everyone at Birmingham City F.C. knows that I am a Christian.They have seen a dramatic change in my life as I have many opportunities to share my faith with the players and staff. “It ’s not difficult to be a Christian in such a competitive arena when you are sold out to God and not to the things of this world.Jesus said we are to pick up the cross and follow Him and that ’s what I am endeavouring to do.Please pray that God will use us to win the lost,as well as to grow more in God and achieve all the things He has for me to do.”