Luton legend Alan nets 50 years for Christ

Luton legend Alan nets 50 years for Christ

It was football that brought Alan West to Luton and, eventually, the Luton Christian Fellowship. The young player transferred to Luton Town FC in 1973 for the then princely sum of £100,000 after a six-year stint at Burnley FC, and was following his lifelong dream of playing professionally.

“I spent my best days with Luton Town,” Alan says of his nine-year stint with the club. “While I played there we were promoted to the First Division, I became captain of the club and I became a Christian.”

After completing a subsequent two-season spell with Millwall and a stint as a player manager for Hitchin Town FC, Alan was left considering his next steps.

Then came an unexpected question from his church, Luton Christian Fellowship: would he consider going into ministry?

“I was shocked. I'd been thinking I’d become a football coach or manager, but I also had a passion for the local church and for people. I applied to Elim and became the assistant pastor at Luton,” he says.

For a while, Alan kept a foot in both camps. “I was still playing semi-pro football while pastoring. The church was small and didn’t have a lot of resources, so continuing to play meant we could live comfortably and church didn’t have to pay me very much, which meant we had more resources for outreach and community work.”

COMMUNITY

Community work was a huge focus for Alan. He got involved with Churches Together in Luton, Christians in Sport and football chaplaincy, and used his fame from Luton Town to organise local events such as a carol concert at his former club for 12,000 people. He also helped host events featuring Bobby Ball, Cliff Richard and Luis Palau.

Alan was also passionate about youthwork and got involved with local schools, helping with assemblies and lunchtime concerts.
He was also involved in the birth of national youthwork charity Youthscape.

“We took on a youth worker called Chris Curtis to develop this ministry, and Youthscape started in a little spare office in our church. Chris has been there for 25 years and is CEO now. They moved to a huge converted warehouse in Luton and are training and equipping youth workers nationally.”

Alan’s original goal with this local work was based on the church in Acts 2 – a church that touched its community.

“That passage talks about how they devoted themselves to these things and God added to their numbers.”

Alan saw this for himself as his church of 50 had grown to 400 by the time he retired five years ago.

“I came to Luton from Burnley thinking I’d only be here a couple of years.

“But I became a Christian, and here I am 50 years later – still in Luton and still part of the church. It was extremely hard work, but a great adventure.”

From Direction Magazine issue 235.

 

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