Under The Influence: Changing Lives Through Sports In Kenya

“A coach will influence more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.” – Billy Graham

Kallu was a typical teen growing up on the Kenyan coast, spending most of his time hanging out with friends and playing pick-up soccer. He had finished his primary schooling, but had no opportunity to attend high school. His future was feeling somewhat futile, and his life became one of wandering around town, using drugs, and spending lazy days on the beach, his perspectives and pursuits defined by other youth in the same situation. 

In an age of rapidly changing culture, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the global church to have an impact on young people who don’t recognize their need for a Savior. This is true for Christians in Kenya, who seek to bring the love of Christ into regions occupied by various tribal customs and religions hostile toward the gospel. The church has lost a degree of past cultural influence, but God is providing another strategic avenue to connect with communities: sports.

By God’s grace, Kallu encountered a Sports Friends coach reaching out to his coastal area. The coach recognized Kallu’s skills, and believed in his potential to be a great player, so he invested in Kallu’s life through his talent and interest. Today Kallu is in high school on a soccer scholarship, but his greatest desire is to return to his coastal town and share the hope of Jesus with his old soccer buddies. 

Sports Friends Kenya works to train coaches like Kallu’s: volunteers from local churches who are passionate about investing their time and energy in reaching out to young people in Jesus’ Name through sports. Coaching can be a fun job, but it is not always easy. Early on in Kenya we recognized the need for ongoing coaches’ training so that our coaches will be equipped with excellence in sports as well as in ministry, further developing their athletes’ skills, keeping them engaged, and helping open potential doors for their futures.

Earlier this year, we gathered Sports Friends staff from around the world and welcomed an A-License Coach from our Thailand field who came to share his skills with our Kenyan staff.  We were also privileged to have trainers from Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Malawi join us to pour into our team. It was an intense four days on the soccer field, but the result was that our Sports Friends staff are now equipped to pass this training on to coaches from the local church; making them culturally relevant and skillfully effective, as they work to reach young people with the love of God.            

Please continue to pray for the endurance, joy, and protection of our staff and coaches as they spend themselves on behalf of Kenyan youth, each one precious to God!

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal though us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:20

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