Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Christian cricketer draws crowds

FORMER international cricketer Henry Olonga spoke to an audience of more than 200 people at St Mary?s Church.

FORMER international cricketer Henry Olonga spoke to an audience of more than 200 people at St Mary?s Church.

Olonga, who played 30 Test matches for Zimbabwe, shot to fame after wearing a black armband in the 2003 World Cup to protest against human rights violations by Robert Mugabe?s government.

This led to a warrant for his arrest for treason, which carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe, so he went into hiding before escaping to Britain.

Olonga was interviewed by Rev John Cook, the vicar of St Mary?s, and talked about his new career as a singer and speaker as well as his Christian faith.

Rev Cook said: ?Henry was very engaging, very interesting and spoke about both cricket and his faith.

?He told us about his career highlights and there were some really funny moments. It was a really good talk and you could have heard a pin drop. I did a Parkinson-style sit-down interview with him but he had to help me out with some of the questions!

?He spoke about when he became a Christian and made a stand against Mugabe and the effects of the government on the country. Because of that, Mugabe wanted to kill him.

?Henry said that if you love God then part of that is loving the people around you and he wanted to protect the weak.

?He would pray that he would be able to escape the country and that escape came about through Test cricket. He can?t go back and hasn?t seen his family in years, though they do speak on the phone.?

Olonga, who is a tenor, interspersed his talk with singing, performing a range of Christian songs and hymns. After the talk, he spent more than an hour answering questions outside the church.

Rev Cook said: ?There were lots of people who wanted a chat with him, especially young people. Lots of the questions were about faith, not just cricket.?

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