By Cambie Wilson
Sports are a universal language. Whether you are a player or a fan, sports have a way of breaking down barriers and bringing people together. For our Sports Friends-trained coaches, it is an incredibly simple yet powerful tool that allows them to connect with the young people in their communities. Coaches don’t need any special skills or even a background in sports. The most important thing is that they are willing to be obedient to the mandate that Jesus gave to GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching. Coach Martin and Coach Meschek are two such coaches who have been equipped to use sports as a ministry tool and are living out this mandate.
Coach Mesheck attended a Sports Friends training one year ago and it transformed the way he saw ministry. His passion for Christ and the youth in his village is evident as you speak with him. Serving the youth and building relationships on the dusty soccer pitch makes his heart tick! He feels privileged to be a messenger of the Good News as he utilizes his childhood desire of playing soccer. Building relationships with youth and their families has been his priority and he seeks to makes use of every single moment to share his faith and hope in Christ. He has now trained an assistant coach and together they are reaching out to the youth of their community, supported by the local church. He is certain that God is up to something big and that lives will be transformed and his community strengthened through this ministry!
Coach Martin is a pastor and was excited to learn how his pulpit and the playing field could be one in the same. After Martin attended a Sports Friends training organized at his local church, he initiated a sports ministry program at the local school. The aim was to reach youth in their everyday context and try to break down the barriers that might keep them from coming to church on a Sunday morning. Now he blends sports activities with a regular Bible study program to speak into these young people’s spiritual lives and make disciples. Several young people from the school have started attending Sunday services at Martin’s local church and their parents and teachers express gratitude that he is investing in their children.
Like so many coaches, Martin sees the incredible need for the gospel and recognizes that young people are often ready to hear and receive, but just need someone to share with them in a way that they can relate to. As he likes to say, “The church doesn’t have to go far – it just needs to go.”