Meet the Community » Steve Jennings- Tackling life's tough issues!

Steve Jennings- Tackling life's tough issues!

steveJ jpgAs a new addition to your local Fujairah Observer magazine we will be meeting diverse and interesting ex pats and find out what they love about Fujairah and ask who what where when why? 

 

-Who?

Pastor Steve or Coach Steve, Steve Jennings is a familiar face in Fujairah. The pastor of The Evangelical Church, Steve has an infectious smile and a warm welcome for everyone he encounters. Coach of Fujairah Bulls, an expansion team of the Emirates American Football League, I caught up with him, post SuperBowl, post the bulls debut game and on his busiest day as a pastor- Friday here in the UAE! 

 

-Tell me about your background Steve?

I was raised in a big family as a typical Texas farm boy. I was home schooled in my younger days while working on the farm and in construction as a teen. After getting married to my wife Katie, I got a BA in History from a small university and later went on to do graduate studies at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. 

 

From early on I loved the idea of travelling, but that didn’t happen much as a family. My first international trip was to India when I was eighteen.  

 

Since then, I have managed to travel to sixteen countries and my wife and I have grown our family to six kids under the age of ten! 

 

-Why and when did you arrive here? 

We first arrived in the UAE in 2009 when my wife had the opportunity to work in Fujairah as a midwife. Shortly thereafter, I started working in sports. 

 

-When did you choose the vocation of the church? 

I have always been very involved in church, especially since my teens, but the possibility of church as a vocation was first presented to me in 2012. 

 

Tell me about the church of the Evangelical Church in Fujairah? 

We are a diverse group of Christians that come from all kinds of backgrounds, ethnicities, and economic strata. That is what makes being a pastor here so beautiful. The unity we enjoy because of our shared faith, the shared hope that we have and identity in Christ, creates a unique community that is sweet to be a part of - even if we enjoy different foods, music styles, sports, etc. 

 

Our philosophy at the Evangelical Church is to know God more, know ourselves more, and to live in light of where those two things come together. We believe that we have been loved and blessed by God so that we can love and be a blessing. We hope people who know us and interact with us will see that and that we can be a blessing to this city. 

 

-What are your favourite things about Fujairah? 

With a big family? Cheaper! On a serious note, I love the tight-knit community, that you recognize people everywhere you go, that it takes ten minutes to get across town. I also think the mountains meeting the sea is a beautiful setting. I love the freedom that we have as Christians to gather and practice our faith, I am thankful to the Ruler for the kindness he has shown us. 


steveBulls jpgGetting Fujairah Bulls established took a little time, tell me how it evolved?

I have been involved with American Football in the UAE since its very beginning nearly eight years ago. When the church in Dubai sent me to Fujairah in 2013, the love of football came with me. We tried to get guys interested, but the high-turnover of people made it hard to get a team together. But every Fall, we persisted until finally we got a good core group together that made a push to recruit and make the dream become reality. We started by just running around at the beach throwing the ball and now we are kitted out and getting ready for our second match in the Emirates American Football League. 

 

-Are you pleased with the SuperBowl result? 

Very pleased. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I am not supposed to like the Eagles, but their Quarterback is a great guy, I like their coach, and their performance was stellar. It was one of the best SuperBowls I have ever seen. 

 

-If you could have dinner with one person alive or dead who would it be and which restaurant in Fujairah would you choose? 

It would be with the 18th Century American theologian / philosopher / pastor, Jonathan Edwards. The location would be Al Tarboush Restaurant near Choithram. 

 

T-he Fujairah Bulls are looking for new members; what makes a Bull and what type of character are you looking for? 

Willingness to be a team player, toughness, and teachability. 

-Is it a dangerous sport? 

Like any contact sport, there is a risk involved. However, coaching and implementing proper technique makes the game safe, though it is certainly very physical. Exercise is also essential to being prepared to safely play the game. 

 

-Do you find a relationship with religion and sport? Do they intertwine? 

They both create amazing community in the pursuit of transcendence and the joy of victory. Life is hard. No way around it. But when we rally together in complementary roles, around a shared hope and a shared objective, built on the same foundation, we become closer and we move closer as one to the objective, even through adversity. It is here that sports can be quite analogues to the biblical vision for Christianity - people running a race with confidence in God’s power to get us, together as one, to the goal. 

 

-What are your future plans? 

Keep striving to serve the Christian community faithfully through teaching, counselling, prayer, and encouragement for years to come. And to see the Fujairah Bulls become a well-established, perennial, organization that is self-sustained by sponsors and competitive. I won’t always be able to play the game, but I hope I can continue to coach and to see the team branch out to have youth teams as well. Win the EAFL Desert Bowl! That is the goal. 

 

-What advise would you give to the new and young ex pat community who have chosen Fujairah as a home from home?

Don’t be quick to leave. Spend weekends here. Make friends. There are some amazing people here. So find something to get involved in where you can get to know those people. Get to know your neighbours, learn the name of the guy who delivers your water or who runs the shop down the street. Make it home and it will start to feel that way. 

 

EJ MacManais 

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