Training coaches is an integral and expanding part of the Sports Friends ministry. While it takes many forms and is an ongoing work, the Basic Training is the foundation. Churches send men and women who would like to voluntarily run a local sports ministry team to a Basic Training for overview and instruction in the models of Live, Lead, Minister, and Coach. They learn how to be the light of the world in the context of sports, so that many young people will see Christ in them in a real-life, daily setting.
Sports Friends partners with churches all across Nigeria, and is present even in areas of intense difficulty. There is longstanding conflict all across northern Africa, where tensions between nomadic herdsmen and landowning local farmers have fought bitterly over rights to necessary natural resources; the death toll in just the past three years is nearly 4,000 (Amnesty International).
A recurrent and terrifying event is the raiding of a village by herdsmen that have been wronged or offended, who then retaliate with brutal and widespread violence. One of our recent Basic Trainings held in the eastern state of Taraba experienced one of these attacks. After completing the first day of training, everyone expected to return for a full and productive second day. Then cell phones began to ring with the alarm: the herdsmen were attacking the town. Gunshots were heard. The coaches in the training facility did not flee; they waited. Nearby homes were burned. Our Sports Friends Nigeria Trainer, Moses, was there directing the weekend when all of these unexpected and uncontrollable events happened. He told us:
“The herdsmen entered where we were doing our training; we thought this was the end of our lives. Somehow the Lord delivered us. No one was touched. The facility was not even burned… when they entered the town, they were shooting. Here they just walked out. They did not shoot anyone; no one was injured.”
When the staff asked if the new volunteer coaches wanted to cancel the remainder of training because of the trauma, they said no. They wanted to complete the Basic Training.
“They knew this was a miracle from God Himself, and that God wanted them to continue in this ministry. They are now willing to volunteer in the larger church; it [the training] has served the church… Right now, this church is doing very well.”
Praise God with us for His miraculous protection of His people at this Basic Training! We thank Him for saving the lives of our brothers and sisters, and for His intervention: in a setting of destruction and fear at the hands of man, He delivered and strengthened these new coaches to lead new teams in confidence of His powerful presence in their lives. Pray with us for our Sports Friends staff, coaches, young people, and their families who live in these regions rife with conflict. Pray with us for Nigeria, and for the ultimate peace that comes through knowing Christ.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14:27)