Ahoghill man Stephen Crawford honoured with BEM in New Years Honours List
Ahoghill man Stephen Crawford has been left shocked, but feeling privileged and honoured, after hearing he has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s New Years Honours List.
Stephen (54), who is the founder and director of community-focussed organisation, Coaching for Christ, has been recognised for services to young people in County Antrim.
The BEM is awarded for a 'hands-on' service to the local community, that has made a significant difference.
At the age of 35-years-old, compelled by a deep Christian-faith, Stephen established the ministry and work of Coaching for Christ in 2004 out of a desire to impact the lives of young people in a positive manner, through the vehicle of football.
“Three years later in 2007, I left my job working in a local factory to go full time,” the local man explained.
“The ministry was established with a small team of six volunteers who grasped the vision of Coaching for Christ - to see lives and communities transform by Christ through sport.”
Talking to Love Ballymena, Stephen shared his passion to see young people living their best life. He said:
“I love seeing young people reach their full potential and watch them grow as they find hope and confidence in the gifts that God has given them.”
And it is not only here in County Antrim that lives have been impacted, but also across the world as Stephen leads teams of coaches from Northern Ireland to other countries.
“After our first missions trip to Kenya, a pastor came and said to me, “Your team have brought joy, shown love and given hope to these young people” - and this really sums up the heart of Coaching for Christ, and is the driving force for why and what we do as an organisation.
“Seeing young peoples lives impacted by dedicated and passionate coaches, with the same heart for the ministry, and seeing volunteers grow in our core values of commitment, excellence and unity as they pour out into the community and farther afield, has been so rewarding for me personally.”
But for all the hours of love and dedication to see positive change at both home and abroad, the last thing the Ahoghill man expected, was to receive Royal recognition.
“When I received the letter stating that I had received a BEM, my initial thought was that they’d got it wrong,” he said. “After I confirmed that it was indeed, for me - I felt shocked but, privileged and honoured on behalf of the organisation and everyone involved.”
17 years later, Coaching for Christ has become a much respected organisation within the local community, who both recognise and appreciate the role it plays in helping and providing hope to not only young people, but also families.
Stephen concluded: “It is a privilege for me to be involved in the Coaching for Christ ministry, as it is not only a team but a family; without every vital and dedicated team member, this mission could not be fulfilled.
“I could not be more grateful for a team with the same heart and passion for young people, willing to carry the mission on to the next generation.”
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