It’s always important to understand why we do what we do. Knowing ‘why’ we are engaging in mission directs the ‘how’, and that can be the difference between a good short-term trip and a potentially damaging one.
Jesus’s last directive on earth was for us to go and make disciples of all the nations. Of course, not every Christian is called to be an overseas missionary, but all are called to play a role in God’s redemptive story as the gospel makes its way to the ends of the earth.
As a ministry, we believe that God’s primary means of relating to and transforming the world is His Church. Some nations are blessed that the Church is large and there is tremendous access to the gospel. But in other places around the world the Church, if she is even present, is small and struggling. Our heart is to come alongside local churches by providing training and encouragement as they seek to share God’s love with the youth and families in their communities through the powerful platform of sports.
Sports Friends is also passionate about creating opportunities for churches and individuals to take part in God’s Great Commission around the world. Short-term teams that have come and served alongside the Sports Friends ministry have been incredibly helpful in deepening the impact that the Church is making in the community. In many Sports Friends fields, coaches and volunteers face many challenges and are serving in areas where it’s difficult or even dangerous to be a Christian. The teams that come to serve alongside them have brought much joy and encouragement to our staff and volunteers as they are reminded that they are not alone as they seek to share God’s Good News. These teams have been the hands and feet of Jesus to hundreds of youth over the years, and their willingness to love and serve has made a huge impact on the youth by helping them to see the gospel in action.
As well as being a blessing, most often we find that the short-term teams are also impacted in significant ways. Experiencing God in a culture unlike their own, learning what the Church looks like in another context, and seeing what life looks like for people in other settings are all part of the experience that deeply affects those that go. Individuals have the opportunity to experience and see God at work in ways that stretch and challenge their faith. Often, when people return home we find they are re-energized and excited to be a part of what God is doing. Sometimes, that means engaging more deeply in their local church or community, but it’s not uncommon that we find individuals who desire to return to the mission field for longer service.
Consistently, we see lives changed, people encouraged, and God’s name glorified through these teams. And as a ministry, that’s why we believe in the importance of short-term missions.
By Bryan Mills | Bryan lives in Charlotte, NC and is the Coordinator of Short-Term Teams and Church Partnerships for Sports Friends. Having served with several organizations through short-term ministry, Bryan recognizes the impact that these trips can make and is passionate about creating opportunities for churches and individuals to be involved in what God is doing through global missions.