In the early days of One Challenge, founder Dick Hillis and worker Norm Cook discovered the effectiveness of sports in sharing the gospel. In Taiwan, then Formosa, OC played hundreds of basketball games, sharing the Word during halftime and after the games, seeing great numbers come to Christ. Since the 50s, OC has been actively involved in sports evangelism, called Sports Ambassadors. Alex, a worker in the Philippines, has spent his ministry coaching believers and church leaders in Asia on how to effectively use sports to reach the community around them.
Training Close to Home
“Sometimes we wonder how effective our work has been as we’ve trained many in different levels of sports leadership training,” Alex says. “Most of the trained leaders came from other regions, so following up on their progress is difficult. However, the last group I trained happens to be close by, only a 100-kilometer drive from my house.”
Basketball is “king” throughout the Philippines and communities and leaders realize the effectiveness in using the sport in correlation with the gospel. In the province of Bulacan, just north of Manila, leaders have set the goal to use sports to reach teenagers in the area. “They set the number at 100 students to initiate a church plant goal,” Alex says. Alex is training leaders and provides materials for them to be effective.
Going Beyond the Church
Pastor Renato Eustaquio is using his new skill and knowledge of sports ministry to enhance his current non-sports-related ministry. He has seen great impact. Renato says: “Our church has been blessed to know that God has established a movement significant in our present time: sports and games. No one can argue that sports and games transcend language and culture. We are blessed that God led us to attend training programs on sports ministry. We are seriously considering promoting this discipline in our church to impact our ministry, our community, and our mission outreaches.”
Youth Discipleship Sports Program
Elsewhere in the Philippines, Anton, a “lay” leader, runs a weekly youth discipleship sports program. “(Anton) uses most of the materials he learned from our Level 1 training to reach the ‘out-of-school youth’ in his area,” Alex says. “The news of Anton’s program reached the Barangay captain’s (town chief) office and he was interested in knowing how to implement this with other kids.”
How to Pray
The Lord is moving through sports in the Philippines, across Asia, and the world. Sports are a common denominator among peoples that spans language and culture. Pray for these men who are using games to spread the Good News.
- Pray for the community of Bulacan and the leaders’ church planting goals.
- Pray for Pastor Renato and his church’s ministry efforts to reach their community for the kingdom.
- Pray for the youth discipleship sports ministry program and its leader Anton. Pray the town leadership will invest in the program and get many children of all ages involved.
- Pray for Alex as he continues to teach sports ministry and its leaders across Asia. “I believe there will be more churches planted in the coming months through these leaders,” Alex says. “Your prayer is the key as they engage in frontline battle.”