Before this trip, Fostance and I sat down and discussed what our expectations were for these newly trained sports ministry leaders. Every week we send out text messages and make phone calls to follow up and encourage these leaders but we often are unable to reach them due to the remoteness of where they are located. Because of our inability to communicate well over the phone with them, we assumed that probably not a whole lot was going on and we needed to go and encourage them to do the work that God had clearly confirmed and called them to do.
We arrived to our first meeting with 5 of the sports ministry leaders who we had trained back in June at our 1st ever Sports Friends Basic Training. The Lord was very present at that meeting and we were delightfully surprised to find out that three of the churches had already started and were continuing effective sports ministries in their villages. They were doing it! Praise God for that!
The very next morning we packed up our few belongings and headed even further down south to the village of Chipwembwe. Amazingly, we found a minibus headed right where we needed to go and I said, “We want in!” The driver was great and allowed us to squeeze in. Upon arrival at Chipwembwe, we played some volleyball with a few of our punctual trained sports ministers while we waited for the others to arrive. Just as we were hitting that ball around, God reminded me that sport is an incredible way to connect with people. It’s a language in itself and it was so great to be able to connect with 9 of our leaders in Chipwembwe and just have an amazing time laughing and playing volleyball in the scorching sun. Constantly as we played, kids from the village would beg us to allow them to join by saying, “We want in!”
|Fanny jumping (far left in blue) with the kids|
After the fun in the sun, we took them to a local restaurant to grab a bite to eat. While we were chatting and eating they shared what they’ve been up to since the Basic Training. Some have had many difficulties initiating a church centered sports ministry in their local church. Some churches don’t want to give money towards evangelistic outreaches and would rather spend it on building bigger and bigger church structures. Despite the frustrations and setbacks of these leaders, we saw a real passion in them. A passion to reach out and use the sports of soccer and netball to preach Jesus to a people who desperately need Him. Even from the discouraged leaders we got the feeling that they were crying out to us, “Don’t give up on us! We want in on this ministry and we believe God is going to use it in our churches and villages in great ways.”
|Fanny & Geography are the two crouching down|
Then we turned to our friends named Geography and Fanny. It was their turn to share what they’d been doing way out in their village. A big smile erupted from both of their faces and we knew something was coming. They went on to share of what God has done in the past few weeks through their new sports ministry.
Geography said that they initially had some difficulties getting started…so they prayed. And then God gave them a brilliant idea, “If you don’t have a ball, go to the local community sports ground and ask to join in on a game that has already started. Simply bring your team and say, ‘We want in! Can we play too?’” They did this several times and before they knew it, they were asked to share more about sports ministry with the whole community listening. Then, the ladies netball team from their local church prayed that God would provide for them too. Within a short period of time, Fanny got a ball and they found themselves practicing several times each week with many intrigued onlookers thinking to themselves, “I don’t know what this is but I know one thing: I want to be a part of this, I want in.” After a few weeks and several games where Fanny and Geography would teach the Gospel to the crowds before playing, two women wanted in. They approached Fanny and said, “We see that you are different and we’d like to play with you guys. Can we play?” Fanny said that would not be a problem and the two ladies joined them for the day. Now, these 2 ladies were not believers and they were wondering what was different about Fanny and Geography. After coming several times, the ladies then said, “We enjoy it very much when you share from the Word of God with us. Can we come to church this Sunday with you?” Again, our amazing leaders agreed and brought them to worship service that Sunday. It was there that the ladies finally made the big step and said, “We want in! We wanna follow Jesus!” And they gave their lives to Christ and joined the local church that day. Incredible! That is what this is all about. Transforming Lives, Strengthening Communities. All glory be to the Lord! He is bringing people into His kingdom through this work and we are continually amazed at His goodness in ways that we’d not expect.
Acts 11:21 says, “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” God may it be so here!
What a blessing to see such fruit! Please continue to pray that more and more would see this sports ministry and look to Christ and say, “I want in! I need you Lord!”
Love you guys,