Ian (Watto) Watson, founder of the ‘Shed Happens’ movement, died yesterday, 5 December after a long battle with cancer. He was 74.
‘Every bloke’s a champion!’ was coined by Ian as a rallying encouragement to men to be all that God called them to be. ‘I never saw any man go backwards with encouragement’ was his oft-quoted motto.
Ian and his wife Margaret were members of Petrie Lutheran Church, just north of Brisbane, and after its dissolution became founding members of Living Faith Lutheran Church at Murrumba Downs.
As a truck- and motorcycle-driver trainer, Ian spent many hours listening to men’s stories. Seeing a void in the Lutheran Church for a safe space for men to share their struggles, he established a local ministry for both church men and those disconnected or estranged from the church. These men’s gathering were always held in a non-church location, where all men could feel safe enough to be open and truthful.
After Ian sold his driving school, the original Murrumba Downs shed has moved to Living Faith church under Ian’s recommendation and guidance. The move was very successful.
Shed Happens grew into a national men’s ministry, growing well beyond the Lutheran Church. Ian was a regular speaker at Shed Happens events as they became established around Australia, at men’s camps and on talk-back radio. He spoke to Parliament and to prisoners. He wrote three books about the importance of creating non-judgemental spaces for men to share their pain and to discover that they are not alone. His ministry encouraged men to be kind, gentle and respectful husbands, fathers and sons.
Ian spent much of the last 15 years of his life travelling around Australia visiting Sheds and helping to establish others. He was relentless in his calling to bring the healing gospel of Christ to men of all walks of life, no matter who they were or what they had done. His own witness was a mirror of Christ himself, who accepted everyone as a dearly beloved child of God, whose heart’s desire was for them to know and experience the love and forgiveness of their heavenly Father.
Rest in peace, Ian (Watto) Watson – champion!