“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2)
A big thanks to all you who prayed for the first-ever Sports Friends Basic Training that we had from June 12-16. There is a lot to say about this critical time of training and the ministry God has entrusted us with. In our prayer update email, we will give more details about the highs and lows of the training but we just wanted to share one highlight of what God did last week. I love that verse above. We pray this passage often and believe that God has shown us one of the few that He’s wanting to use in profound ways to reach the ripe harvest field of Malawi moving forward proclaiming His greatness.
The big guy wearing the orange shirt in the picture above is named Honest. Honest recently attended our Basic Training and through it, God has awoken in him a passion to make disciples through the platform of soccer. He is an answer to many of your prayers. A few months ago, Fostance and I met with the leaders of his church to cast the vision for sports ministry and he and his church showed a lot of interest. After a few weeks of prayer, he was selected by his church to start a church-centered sports ministry and so they sent him to the Basic Training to learn how to most effectively do it. Honest came with a huge smile on his face and both Fostance and I knew he was here at the training for all the right reasons. The joy of the Lord exudes from this guy and he is one of few youth here who really understands the Gospel and how the Great Commission is not an option for a select few to obey but a command for every follower of Jesus. Honest knows that he was created to show people Christ and then teach them to walk in His ways.
Through every session of the training, I would look to find Honest burning a hole in his notebook writing down everything that was taught by the Sports Friends Ethiopian leaders who came to facilitate the training. Honest was just eating it up…but only time would tell if he would put what he was learning in the classroom into practice.
On the final day of the Basic Training, we had a practical session where the participants were instructed to go out into the community and try to lead a group of kids in a sports outreach. Before even us leaders arrived at the community sports field, Honest was there rallying a group of youngsters together to play games that he’d just learned at the Basic Training. As we (the Sports Friends facilitators) approached the field, we couldn’t help but smile at the sight we saw. Honest (who is about 6 ft 2in) was standing in the middle of a huge group of little kids. They were jumping up and down chanting a praise song in Chichewa. Every one of those mud-caked faces looked at him like he was their hero. No one ever stops and plays with the kids here. The little kids are often shoved to the side and told to go away but this big guy was inviting them to play. He was loving them with a different kind of love that they had not seen.
The practical sports ministry session lasted a few hours and then all the kids begged Honest to come back the next day to teach them about God and soccer again. He looked at us and said, “Where should we meet and what time?” Now that’s the type of people we are looking for in this sports ministry! He is such an answer to prayer and God is already using him in mighty ways.
Today marks one week since that day when Honest first started using sports as a platform for the Gospel. Since then, he has met with that group of kids (which is growing rapidly) 5 more times. He loves them and is teaching them about the Lord at each training. He understands what Jesus is talking about when He says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)
Tuesday, on my way to town, I drove by the dirt field where they meet and my heart was so blessed to see Honest again with a contagious smile on his face and a huge group of kids looking up to him. The Lord is using him is profound ways already. Will you please pray for Honest and the new sports ministry that has sprung out from this Basic Training? Praise God! Things are happening. The Holy Spirit is moving in the hearts of these kids as they see their new coach live and speak out the Gospel daily to them. Pray for a few more young leaders to come alongside Honest so that he can disciple them and then they can begin their own church-centered sports ministries. He especially has a heart to reach a highly neglected group of kids about 3 miles away in a very rural area but says he’ll just start here in Blantyre now. He has the Spirit of God in his heart, a clear vision, deep passion, plenty of time, and a solid church backing him in this ministry. There is no limit to what God can do through Honest. Pray for him as the powers of darkness are probably going to work overtime to shut him down. Jesus is worthy!