North, East, South, West. Everywhere you go, people love to play sports. We seem to be hard-wired to compete. Whether it is chess, tennis, basketball, football, baseball, and more; everyone is interested in competition. The universal appeal of sports of all kinds, makes it easy to use it in a church setting. How is that possible, and how is it evangelism?
By using sports, you will be tapping into the natural love people have for sports. It crosses all ages and skill levels with a unifying effect. Whether watching the World Cup on television at a church event or playing a game of soccer in a local field, people are brought together through sports. Let me tell you the true story about Devil Dog.
This big ugly dog was the most vicious dog you have ever seen. He had big, long, sharp teeth and dedicated his life to growling, barking, and escaping from his enclosure. Fortunately, his owner dedicated his life to keeping Devil Dog fenced in. Most of the time the owner won, but occasionally, Devil Dog managed to jump the fence. When that happened, things got rather chaotic.
We had the distinct honor of living across the street from Devil Dog and his family of three: a mom, a dad, and their six-year-old son. In time, we noticed that our neighbors were enjoying sitting on their porch as we were leaving for church on Sunday, and they were still there when we returned. We realized that they did not quickly go to church and then beat us home to change back into their casual clothes and take up their positions on the porch. We could pray for them, but what more could we do?
Our church had an extensive recreation ministry with a large facility that included a gym. One of the activities enjoyed by the young and the “maybe not so old” was roller skating in the gym. Our daughter, who was seven at the time, invited the six-year-old to join the skating. He loved it. Soon the dad got involved playing softball on the church team, and the mom joined a sewing class sponsored by the church. The mom and dad were slow to get involved in worship services, but their son became more and more active.
Just as it seemed they were making progress toward finding salvation through Christ, they moved to Texas. The only good thing about their move was that they were taking Devil Dog with them! We were concerned that the tiny spark of influence we had on their lives would be extinguished without follow up.
Three months later, we were surprised to hear the familiar voice of the dad. He had a big smile on his face as he crossed the street to greet us. He told us about their move to Houston and explained that he had returned to complete some unfinished business. More importantly, he wanted us to know what happed to his family after they arrived in Houston.
Very soon after their arrival, members of a local church came to their home to welcome them to the area and invite them to church. Remembering the warmth that he felt toward our church, the dad decided that he and his family would just try it out for a week or two. They heard about Jesus and His plan for their lives. He said, “My wife and I gave our hearts to Jesus and became Christians right then and there. Now we go to church every week and take our son, too.”
We were so excited to know of their victory through Christ. We huddled together with the dad and said a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. We were able to say goodbye with the full knowledge that one day we would see each other again in Heaven.
I am thankful for a ministry of recreation with activities designed to reach people. I am thankful for a church in Houston, Texas, with an outreach and sports ministry. And I am especially thankful to God for the opportunity to witness family-to-family. Praise God for a ministry of sports and recreation, with activities designed to reach people for Jesus. I am grateful that God gave us the opportunity to witness for Him as a family.
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