The gospel is the goal

SportsLink currently works on 352 sport fields, of which 176 are among those who may have never heard of Christ before. Through SportsLink’s growth, 9,600 people in 36 countries have decided to follow Jesus.

So much more than a form of exercise, sports are relational and deeply ingrained in almost every culture. Whether it be basketball, rugby or cricket, sports bring people together; they build friendships and community and promote comradery, teamwork and discipline. Sport is a language almost everyone can speak and provides a space for people from all different cultural and religious backgrounds — people who would otherwise have few opportunities to connect — to step away from everyday life and share a common interest.

With how influential sports are to so many cultures, it’s easy to see why it is an excellent avenue through which Christ can be shared. If the gospel was the centre of every football, baseball or hockey team, imagine the impact that could take place. OM is doing precisely that; bringing individuals together — bonded by their passion for team sports — to love, teach and disciple them all in the name of Jesus.

Fahad* grew up in a world where being Pakistani meant being a Muslim and questioning the Qur’an was shameful. Even so, the Lord touched Fahad, placing questions in his heart. Seeking answers, Fahad was introduced to his local sports ministry team, where he received a copy of the Bible. Soon, he found himself believing in its truth. Getting involved with a fellowship run by the OM team in Pakistan gave Fahad a community that both encouraged and walked side-by-side with him in his new faith. He’s even shared with boldness the redeeming power of Christ to his mother and younger brother.

Having suffered from epilepsy for years, Genghiz from Romania found that his medical condition made him an outcast among his peers. When he was in his teens, Genghiz’s mother became a believer and prayed for his healing, which Christ miraculously did. Even after this healing though, those around Genghiz still saw him as broken and strange. Despite not knowing how to play football, Genghiz joined a team, desperate for friendship. Through his mother’s faith and the ministry of the Jesus followers running the team, Genghiz found acceptance from his teammates, but more importantly, from his Heavenly Father.

Taonga is an orphan living along the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Zambia. Unfortunately, Taonga’s situation is not unique. Orphaned and impoverished children are alarmingly common in this part of the world, so common that most see these young people as being resigned to an inevitable life of hopelessness. OM desires to change this mindset by sharing the hope that can be found in Christ. Through sports ministry, Taonga has been developing his already impressive soccer skills while learning more about Christ and the love He has for him.

Coaches for Christ

The various sports teams themselves cannot thrive or multiply without the dedication of athletes who are passionate about making disciples. OM’s goal is to train and equip local believers who understand their community’s culture and beliefs to share the gospel effectively. These team leaders are imperative, which is why training is a priority.

Through frequent catalytic gatherings, disciple makers meet with other leaders as well as disciples. These meetings provide a space where relationship building can take place; where believers who have a shared desire to see people reached through sports can come together and learn from one another. This time is also spent strategising and identifying new individuals who are willing to become coaches themselves to continue the ministry to the next generation.

Those who express an interest in becoming a leader can attend a Multiply School, where they learn how best to lead a team physically and spiritually. By training locals in discipleship, the hope is that more people become curious about who Christ is and how they can be involved in sharing His love with others.

Through the focus that has been placed on the building up of coaches and leaders, there are 685 Christ-followers who are in the process of being trained to lead teams around the world.

One such leader is Miriam in Africa. Miriam teaches a CrossFit class every week to around six ladies. She has also made it a priority to focus on staying healthy as well as active. With the running club she leads, Miriam enjoys incorporating lessons on nutrition and how best to take care of your body through what you put into it. Hiking and sitting volleyball are two more activities that Miriam uses to disciple people she meets. Through Discovery Bible Studies, the individuals she has made relationships with are able to connect through sports, but also through the reading and studying of Scripture.

The many coaches and disciple-makers have leadership roles unique to their specific athletic abilities, but what they have in common is more significant: a longing to share the gospel, a love for sports and the desire to bring the two together.

Currently, 36 countries have sports ministry teams. Across those 36 countries are 352 sport fields, of which 176 are among those who may have never heard of Christ before. Through the ministry's growth, 9,600 people have decided to follow Jesus. Looking forwards, OM wants to direct efforts on the training of leaders and coaches. Many leaders have also started initiatives to develop agricultural and business skills to financially sustain their families while still seeking to continue and grow the teams they lead.

Whether looking at a coach’s dedication to discipleship or a player’s growing interest in Christ through sports, this ministry is a reminder that God gifts people with unique skills and passions that have the power to bring people together in His name.

Please pray for OM's sports ministry. Pray for Multiply Schools as they train disciple-makers and plant more Christ-centred sports teams among the least reached. Pray for the finances that are needed to support these schools. More specifically, pray for schools needed in the Sahel region, yet lack the funding. Lastly, pray that, through this ministry, those who are lost, ostracised and hopeless would find God speaking to them through their skills and that they would come to know Him.

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