Sports transcends boarders…geographical boarders, socio-economic boarders and theological boarders. Sports ministry is an effective ministerial tool.
Young people are very much at risk where we serve. Very few opportunities, coupled with many unhealthy distractions perpetuates an at risk environment. Through sports ministry we provide a spiritually and physically healthy environment. We ensure that God is present in everything we do and we take the opportunity to share the good news whether it be a halftime message under a tree or a team bible study in our home or on their street. Many of our current leaders were birthed from our sports ministry and are excited about what will be reaped in the future.
Play is important. On Saturday mornings we head out to the sports field to play softball, futbol, or handball. This is an informal opportunity to bond with our friends in a fun environment. We develop and strengthen our existing relationship in a casual setting that often leads to deeper study.
Soccer, or futbol in Spanish, is a huge part of the Central American culture. We sponsor a league that plays in the local community of Pantanal. By sharing a devotional and meeting the players we get exposure to 200 local men. They know who we are, where we are, and our purpose. This opportunity allows us to make contact with each one and invite them into smaller groups.
Have you ever tried to actually explain rules of baseball to someone who has never seen it? Three strikes and you’re out, foul balls are strikes, unless of course it’s the third strike then it doesn’t count…oh…and if the catcher drops the last strike then you can try to run to first base but he can try to throw you out. A lot of rules. That’s how religion here is looked at, very legalistically with a lot of rules. Playing baseball helps us build relationships while playing a complex game but juxtaposing that against the grace of God. Showing that God’s grace and sacrifice through Jesus is what really brings salvation.
Our boxing ministry is a great example of the Spirit being at work within our ministry. We had no desire or inclination to develop a boxing ministry but then God stepped in. We met a local trainer who had a very effective boxing ministry that focused on youth and positive outlets. It was a natural fit. We have land and a pavilion and he had boxing gloves, head gear, a ring and a heart for youth.
Like every other ministry, the volleyball club is relational. We do drills and play volleyball but during that time we also get to get to know these girls and love on them. The Bible study gives many of them an opportunity to share their struggles as well as their faith. They are learning what it means to love one another and finding out who Jesus really is and how He feels about each of them individually.