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Torch relay: 'is this what heaven's going to be like?'

What's it like to be a torchbearer for the Olympic flame? Jonathan Buckley provides a little insight ...

Youth worker and Inspire reader Jonathan Buckley was chosen to be a torchbearer when the Olympic flame made its way through the Rotherham area last week. This is his account of the day:

“Our God is a great and faithful God. He’s a God who loves to treat His children – those who follow Him – and this past week He treated me well.

“I woke up at 6.30am last Tuesday (26 June) as if I was an eight-year-old on Christmas morning, before nipping down to the shop to buy a copy of The Times (to make sure my name was in the list of torchbearers for the day).

“It was then a quick run across to Clifton Park next to my house to see the torch come through Rotherham just after 9am, before heading for Doncaster College for the Deaf for 10.30am where I was met by staff involved in organising the torch relay and my fellow torch bearers.

“Just before 1pm the torch came into the college – carried by none other than Sky Sports legend Chris Kamara – and then our adventure began! There were 20 of us on our relay shuttle bus, with the first runner starting out at the college. We were at the front of the convoy – where each of the torchbearers were dropped off at their starting points to a huge round of applause by everyone on the bus.

“I’ve never felt such genuine warmth towards a bunch of folk who I’d only met a couple of hours beforehand. A bunch of fantastic people who had fully deserved what was ahead of them.

“Then shortly after 1pm we approached the main street going through Armthorpe – where I was about to run. Armthorpe is a small ex-mining town on the outskirts of Doncaster. What’s made this torch relay so special I think is that it’s gone through some of the ‘forgotten’ towns, villages and cities of the country – and boy did the folk of Armthorpe respond!

“As we approached on the shuttle bus all we could see was people ... and flags ... and more people. Reflecting upon the experience I just want to cry – is that what heaven’s going to be like? People coming out to celebrate the goodness of God in their lives?

“To see my parents, friends and family – and loads of people I’d never met before – all wanting to shake my hand, touch the torch and have their photo taken – special. Very special.

“God’s called us to be bearers of good news to this earth. He’s called us to shine – to shine for Him. In one sense Tuesday was culmination of a decade of service to young people in the UK and Uganda; in another sense it was just the start of a life of service to Christ. Who knows where else that life of service might take me?”


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