Evangelism Through Sports in Action
I believe the gospel can be incorporated into every aspect of life, including sports. I also believe using sports as a tool to evangelize to our youth is one of the best ways to reach them. Why? Because even though youth do not always attend church, they won’t miss the opportunity to participate in a fun event. So, we have to meet them where they are at, in any way we can.
All those who have been to Haiti know how challenging it is for kids to stay off the streets. The more downtime they have, the higher the risk of partaking in criminal activities, especially now. With the increase in social issues and natural disasters over the last few years in Haiti, it is even more important for the kids to channel their minds and their time into healthy activities. Through the Haitian Christian Outreach Sport Evangelism program, not only are they engaging in these healthy activites, but we are providing organized social activities which provide a moment of escape and Hope. We want our youth to be surrounded by people who care deeply about them, their families, and their community. While they will spend a couple of hours on the soccer field or on the basketball court, they are surrounded by individuals who care about where they will spend eternity.
Let’s take Charlie (far left in red turkey burn shirt), for example; he is a 17-year-old boy living in Peredo. He lives with his mother, his little brother, and his step-father. Charlie’s biological father abandoned him and his mother and remarried. His step-father does not consider Charlie his son and often speaks harshly with him using words which only express discouragement. When I first met Charlie, he had low self-esteem and believed the worst things about himself; and in speaking to me, he told me that he would “never amount to anything.” This is a frequent phrase spoken to him by his step-father. Then, Charlie began getting close to me, and I took the opportunity to speak the Good Word to him, to teach him good behavior and Biblical morals. After a while, I noticed his body language began to shift from sunken shoulders and a constant gaze to the ground, to head held high and looking into my eyes when having a conversation. A few months ago, Charlie almost lost his life. He had been suffering from a fever, and his mother could not afford medical care for him. After one of his friends came to see me with the news, I connected Charlie with Peredo Community Hospital. His mother later came to find me and, in tears, expressed gratitude for saving her son’s life.
Through the Sports Through Evangelism initiative, each child I have met has an original, most often complex, life story. Each encounter is unique, soul-touching, eye-opening, and wonderful all at the same time. The sporting events give them a place to belong and spend their time instead of getting into trouble. It is a place where they can temporarily forget the problems they face at home, even if it’s for a few hours. It is a place where they feel accepted and can interact in positive ways while building character, learning skills such as team-building, sharing, leadership, and sportsmanship.
Before each game or training session, I always ask one of the young people to pray, followed by a moment for each to share their testimony and then I share a short message with them from the Gospel. After the game, we take some time to share refreshments and reflect on the time spent together. I thank God for giving me the opportunity, the knowledge, and the tools to make an impact in these children’s lives.
Please, continue to pray for all these children as we give them hope in a country where there is very little hope for our young people. Pray for Charlie, who is currently having difficulty attending school due to the lack of financial resources. Pray for his family that they would remain healthy. Pray for his step-father to see the change Christ has made in Charlie and for God to soften his heart. Pray that Charlie and his family receive Christ as their Lord and Savior and are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Associate Director of Operations in Haiti
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